BART installs quake early-warning system

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Officer of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department (r) stands outside a BART train while passengers board in San Francisco.

Officer of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department (r) stands outside a BART train while passengers board in San Francisco. (AP image)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – A new earthquake early-warning system installed by Bay Area Rapid Transit will detect earthquakes precious seconds before the ground starts shaking, allowing trains to be slowed down in an effort to prevent derailments.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that the system was designed with the help of University of California, Berkeley scientists, and is similar to a system already being used in Japan.

State and federal quake scientists have already installed a series of 200 sensors from central California to the Oregon border, and BART’s new early warning system taps into this array.

If a 5.0-magnitude-or-stronger quake hits far away, or a 4.0 closer to home, the system sends an alarm to BART’s computers, which slow trains by about 2 miles per hour per second.

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