Roorkee, 11th September 2017: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT ), Roorkee is working towards deploying the ‘Early Earthquake Warning’ system across major cities in the northern belt of India. This first of its kind project in India is part of the overall research being conducted by the institute in the field of Earthquake Engineering and is an extension to the existing pilot project being undertaken in the Himalayan region.
As a pilot, which started in 2015, IIT Roorkee was the first institute to deploy 84 sensors in seismic gap region of Garhwal Himalaya with the help of Ministry of Earth Sciences. These on-site sensors stream data in real-time to a computer server at the Institute using the networks of BSNL and SWAN network of Govt. of Uttarakhand. This data is being processed for issuing warning for Magnitude 6 and above earthquakes. Sirens, connected to the server, have been fitted within the campus of IIT Roorkee to warn of an impending high magnitude earthquake in the region. This project was successfully completed in March 2017.
After the successful completion of the pilot project, the Government of Uttarakhand sanctioned a project to IIT Roorkee earlier this year, for maintenance of present earthquake early warning system, installation of 100 additional sensors covering Kumaun region, installation of sirens in State Emergency Operation Centres (SEOC) at Dehradun and all district Headquarters of Uttarakhand and installation of 100 sirens in cities of Dehradun and Haldwani. This is the first time the ‘Early Earthquake Warning’ system is being deployed for public use.
Prof. M.L. Sharma, Department of Earthquake Engineering, IIT Roorkee and the Principal Investigator of the project said, “Looking at the seismic map of India, we know that most of the northern regions are under a constant threat of a severe or moderate earthquake. The aim of our study in the Himalayan region was to ensure a working mechanism which will be able to save lives. Predicting earthquakes is impossible, but it is possible to save people living in distant cities through a simple warning system, which will give them enough lead time to reach a safe open place in case of an impending earthquake.”
“The pilot was successfully completed and we have a working system within the IIT Roorkee campus with sirens. Now we are deploying the same for the first time for public use in Dehradun and Haldwani. Within the next couple of years, I hope to scale this project up with the support of the Government and set up the Early Earthquake Warning systems across all major cities in North India, which are prone to huge earthquakes.”, said Prof. Sharma
Recent data sets compiled over the last 2 centuries reveal that large magnitude earthquakes have occurred around various regions of the Himalayas, but one segment of the central Himalaya, knows as the central seismic gap, has potential to generate a major earthquake and researchers tend to believe that such an earthquake is overdue. The seismic sources with such potential in proximity to cities like Delhi has made this region a perfect case for the use of the Early Earthquake Warning system as one of the key disaster mitigation strategies.
The Early Earthquake Warning system works on the principle of propagation of various waves with different velocities starting together from the same point and reaching the target at different times. The Electromagnetic (EM) waves, travel much faster and will reach the target much ahead of the damaging Seismic waves giving what we call a lead time. An on-site seismic monitor near the earthquake source can quickly detect seismic waves and transmit information to processing centres, which in turn can issue an earthquake warning in real-time.