Czech-Mexican sensors will save lives during earthquakes
Czech scientists are testing a new inexpensive seismic wave detection sensor in Nepal. This development will help save many lives in developing countries that cannot afford expensive early earthquake warning systems, according to Radio Prague International.
The sensors were developed through collaboration between Czech and Mexican scientists. They are no larger than a soapbox and less accurate than many other detection systems used worldwide. However, in Nepal, this can actually be seen as an advantage, says geophysicist Václav Kuna from the Institute of Geophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
"The sensor allows us to anticipate seismic waves, which propagate at a speed of approximately 3-4 km per second. This additional time allows people to avoid immediate danger, for example, by running out of their homes or taking cover under a table," he says.
The Himalayas are the largest mountain range in the world. They were formed as a result of the gradual sliding of the Indian Plate into Eurasia. This process is still ongoing, resulting not only in the average elevation of the mountain range increasing by 1 cm per year but also in earthquakes that can cause enormous damage, such as in Nepal in 2015, when such an event led to the deaths of nearly 9,000 people.
"There are already earthquake warning systems in several parts of the world, such as in Japan or California. Typically, they use high-quality sensors, which are often larger than ours. They are excellent for detecting earthquakes, but their cost is high, up to a million Czech crowns (approximately $45,500) for the installation of just one station. This is a problem because poorer countries, such as Nepal, often cannot afford to pay that much for the creation of a network of dozens or hundreds of such stations," explains the scientist.
The Czech-Mexican sensors are cheaper because they are assembled from ordinary electronics, which are easily accessible. They are less sensitive than their more expensive counterparts but are effective in detecting vibrations above 3.5 on the Richter scale. This is more than enough for detecting strong earthquakes, says Václav Kuna.