(Installing a Titan accelerometer / Ocean Networks Canada)

Hot off the heels of B.C.’s largest earthquake drill, ShakeOut, UVic announced that its Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) program just completed its installation of early warning underwater earthquake sensors.

ONC is a University of Victoria initiative that monitors the waters off both the west and east coast of Canada, and the Arctic.

The ONC gives real-time data to researchers across the country, and now with the installation of early warning earthquake sensors complete, it will help alert authorities and add to public safety measures.

“Ocean Networks Canada’s earthquake early warning technology has the potential to provide the time needed to take critical, life-saving actions—like Drop, Cover and Hold On—before the shaking starts,” says Dave Cockle, president of the BC Earthquake Alliance and Oak Bay fire department chief.

The system will be able to send a warning of roughly twenty seconds to two minutes in the event of a major earthquake. Two minutes may not seem like much, but it could give enough time for people to find cover, to stop a delicate medical surgery, to slow trains and transit, and more.

Like the recent ShakeOut B.C. Drill, the ONC will conduct a similar earthquake warning drill, and will simulate major earthquake procedures for the Canada Line transit system in Vancouver, which will involve steps like slowing down trains and stopping them at stations.

“A simulated exercise—as if responding to a megathrust earthquake affecting the Canada Line—will demonstrate how the network will help data end-users such as transit authorities respond to emergencies,” said UVic in a press release.

B.C. sits in the vulnerable Cascadia subduction zone, which stretches from here down to California. The subduction zone is capable of producing a 7+ magnitude megathrust earthquake in the region.

“ONC’s earthquake early warning system positions Canada and BC as a world leader in seismic and tsunami research and science,” said Teron Moore, ONC business analyst.