Medford City Councilors approved an ordinance Thursday authorizing an agreement with the University of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network to allow access to the Roxy Ann Radio Equipment Structure for the installation of seismic recording equipment.
The equipment will be used in the development of the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system, which could eventually give people on the west coast 30 seconds notice before a major earthquake strikes.
“We could have elevator doors open at the next floor, stop and let people out, we could have warning lights that keep people from driving under the viaduct or maybe even getting on the viaduct,” Medford Emergency Management Coordinator, Larry Masterman said, “all of these are just theoretical at this point, these are things we could do with this system.”
The program is still in it’s development phase, but the idea is if all the seismographs- or sensors- on the West Coast were interconnected, a system could be in place to immediately notify the affected area when an earthquake hits.
“As a seismograph near the earthquake source or epicenter registers the earthquake, it can determine its location, depth, size and the nature of the earthquake,” geologist, and Professor Emeritus at SOU, Eric Dittmer said.
Right now the region only has one seismograph located at SOU. The council’s decision means another will go on Roxy Ann peak and a third is in the process of being added at the fire station in Ruch.
“The devices, the installation, the maintenance, all of those things are funded through the USGS and some grants,” Masterman said.
The funding for the program could be in jeopardy, though, based on initial reports of President Trump’s proposed budget. You can read more about that here.