Early detection of earthquakes has long been a focus of seismologists, and one laboratory refining such a system said its technology worked with the 6.0-magnitude quake that rocked Northern California early Sunday morning.
The University of California, Berkeley Seismological Laboratory's detection system gave about 10 seconds of early notice. Even this short amount of time, experts said, could give people enough warning to shelter themselves better.
Berkeley's ShakeAlert system gave a small group of test users 10 second of early warning before Sunday's earthquake hit. The hope is that such a system might be publicly available to warn area residents to take cover. (Image source: YouTube)
"The demonstration warning system provided 10 seconds warning at the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory [...] and more warning to users in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose," Richard Allen, director of the lab, wrote in the description of the video posted to YouTube. "The ShakeAlert system motivated the California State Legislature to pass [a] law in 2013 mandating that the state should complete the system to provide warning to the public. But funding for the system has not yet been found."
Check out the demonstration of warning that went out Sunday:
According to KPIX-TV, a group of test subjects involved with the laboratory's system received the warning shortly before the 10 to 2o-second earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country at 3:20 a.m. PDT. This was the first time the warning system was engaged, the news station reported.
"If we were to turn this into a public system, then everybody could get it on their cellphones and duck, cover and hold on, and reduce the amount of damage and injuries that occur during an earthquake," Allen told the news station.
Watch Allen talk more about the system in KPIX's report:
Dozens were injured as the temblor that originated just outside of Napa. It knocked out power to thousands, caused gas and water lines to rupture and sparked fires.
"While it was bad, it wasn't as bad as it could be and it was very manageable from a regional perspective," Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, said.
A carport is seen collapsed onto vehicles Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. Officials say an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 has been reported in California's northern San Francisco Bay area. (AP/Ben Margot)
Sunday's quake was the largest to shake the San Francisco Bay Area since the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta quake struck in 1989.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.