IIT-GN and CIT to develop early earthquake warning system

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Earthquake
Ahmedabad, Oct 3: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar(IIT-GN) have undertaken a project to develop a "slight early" earthquake warning system.

The institute has teamed up with California Institute of Technology (CIT), Pasadena, USA, to develop a system having dense network of low-cost motion sensors capable of sensing earthquake's early seismic activity.

"Goal of our project is to put in place a network of small devices called accelerometers near an active fault line which can pick up earth vibrations. They can be standalone devices transmitting data to a central server," Prof Girish Singhal, project incharge at IIT-GN told PTI.

"A mesh of very low-cost sensors in that area shall be able to pick up velocity of shock waves, issuing slight early alerts of an earthquake," Singhal claimed.

The project is expected to be of immense help to first responders (first teams to respond) during a calamity.

According to estimate of experts, an earthquake in Bhuj will take few minutes to reach Ahmedabad and an early warning system in place could help in issuing alerts to shut down big machines here, which are potential major source of secondary losses in the event of any seismic activity.

Singhal, along with two final year B.Tech students, is working on this project at IIT-GN.

"One of the students, Prathmesh Juvatkar, visited CIT as part of this project on building a community seismic network. He has brought four sensors along with him for this pilot project," Singhal said. 

"I went to CIT, Pasadena, USA and my project was on building a Community Seismic Network," Juvatkar, a third-year Electrical Engineering student at IIT-GN said.

"My project was to develop a private network of portable low-cost devices that consume minimal resources and can send the seismic data to a central server," he said.

A large number of such private networks will ensure sufficient amount of data available for the detection of earthquakes with higher accuracy, Juvatkar added.

"For building a system capable of early detection of seismic activity, we need high density arrays of spatially distributed motion sensors," he said.

He stressed that the losses due to tremors can be greatly reduced if early warnings can be issued or at least early seismic activity is detected, Juvatkar claimed.

The sensors brought from the US are currently installed at a IIT-GN laboratory and further research is underway.

"Our next target shall be to install network of 6-10 sensors in Bhuj near an active fault line over the next few months, which shall be connected to a computer," he said.

The project is expected to receive grants soon from the Government of India and the USA-based National Science Foundation for scaling up the research project.

A devastating quake in Gujarat on January 26, 2001 had killed around 20,000 people, with Bhuj, which is situated only 20 kms away from its epicentre bore the worst brunt of the calamity.

PTI

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