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Open-File Report 2014–1097

Technical Implementation Plan for the ShakeAlert Production System—An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

By D.D. Given, E.S. Cochran, T. Heaton, E. Hauksson, R. Allen, P. Hellweg, J. Vidale, and P. Bodin

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1 MB)Executive Summary

Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) systems can provide as much as tens of seconds of warning to people and automated systems before strong shaking arrives. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and its partners are developing such an EEW system, called ShakeAlert, for the West Coast of the United States. This document describes the technical implementation of that system, which leverages existing stations and infrastructure of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) regional networks to achieve this new capability. While significant progress has been made in developing the ShakeAlert early warning system, improved robustness of each component of the system and additional testing and certification are needed for the system to be reliable enough to issue public alerts. Major components of the system include dense networks of ground motion sensors, telecommunications from those sensors to central processing systems, algorithms for event detection and alert creation, and distribution systems to alert users. Capital investment costs for a West Coast EEW system are projected to be $38.3M, with additional annual maintenance and operations totaling $16.1M—in addition to current ANSS expenditures for earthquake monitoring. An EEW system is complementary to, but does not replace, other strategies to mitigate earthquake losses. The system has limitations: false and missed alerts are possible, and the area very near to an earthquake epicenter may receive little or no warning. However, such an EEW system would save lives, reduce injuries and damage, and improve community resilience by reducing longer-term economic losses for both public and private entities.

First posted May 12, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Earthquake Science Center—Menlo Park, Calif. Office
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 977
Menlo Park, CA 94025

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Suggested citation:

Given, D.D., Cochran, E.S., Heaton, T., Hauksson, E., Allen, R., Hellweg, P., Vidale, J., and Bodin, P., 2014, Technical implementation plan for the ShakeAlert production system—An Earthquake Early Warning system for the West Coast of the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1097, 25 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)


Executive Summary


Implementing the ShakeAlert System

Detection Algorithms and Decision Module

Ground-Motion Data Sources

Network Telemetry

Central Site Infrastructure


Warning Notification

Roles and Responsibilities

Cost Estimate



Future Work


Appendix A. Key Terms and Abbreviations

Appendix B. Budget Details

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