Merkley and Wyden Announce Earthquake Early Warning System Grant for University of Oregon

Washington DC – Today, Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has awarded approximately $3.7 million to six universities, including the University of Oregon, to help advance an earthquake early warning system along the West Coast. The funding announced today will help improve the “ShakeAlert” system that would give people a precious few seconds to take action before the severe shaking from an earthquake arrives.  

“The Cascadia earthquake has the possibility of being the worst natural disaster in North American history and this funding will help make sure that our West Coast communities have the most up-to-date early warning system,” said Merkley. “We have to do everything we can to prepare for this potential disaster and it’s great knowing that the important work going on at the University of Oregon will help advance this system.”  

“Earthquakes are deadly serious business for the West Coast, which is why it’s crucial that the University of Oregon gets the funding it needs to continue its life-saving research,” Wyden said. “This funding will move the U of O closer to creating a fully developed early warning system that could save untold numbers of lives and give our communities up and down the coast and throughout the state more time to prepare for the worst.”

The $3.7 million announced today will go to California Institute of Technology, Central Washington University, University of California, Berkley, University of Oregon, University of Washington, and University of Nevada, Reno. The USGS and its six university partners will collaborate to improve the ShakeAlert system’s sensor and telemetry infrastructure across the West Coast of the United States. ShakeAlert is a new product of the USGS Advanced National Seismic System, a federation of national and regional earthquake monitoring networks throughout the country, including networks in southern California, northern California, and the Pacific Northwest.

The USGS estimates it will cost $38.3 million in capital investment to complete the ShakeAlert system on the West Coast to the point of issuing public alerts, and $16.1 million each year to operate and maintain it. This is in addition to current support for seismic and geodetic networks.