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Real-time earthquake detection and alerting behavior of PLUM ground-motion-based early warning in the United States

July 28, 2022

We examine the real‐time earthquake detection and alerting behavior of the Propagation of Local Undamped Motion (PLUM) earthquake early warning (EEW) algorithm and compare PLUM’s performance with the real‐time performance of the current source‐characterization‐based ShakeAlert System. In the United States (U.S.), PLUM uses a two‐station approach to detect earthquakes. Once a detection is confirmed, observed modified Mercalli intensity (MMI) distributions are forecast onto a regular grid, in which the preferred alert regions are grid cells with MMI 4.0+ forecasts. Although locations of dense station coverage allow PLUM to detect small (M < 4.5) earthquakes typically not considered for EEW in the U.S., a PLUM detection on a small earthquake does not always generate an alert. This is because PLUM alerts are determined by current shaking distributions. If the MMI 4.0+ shaking subsides prior to detection confirmation by shaking at a second neighboring station, the prior MMI 4.0+ information will not be in the alert forecasts. Of the 432 M 3.0+ U.S. West Coast earthquakes in 2021, 33 produced ground motions large enough to be detected by PLUM. Twenty‐four generated MMI 4.0+ PLUM alerts, whereas ShakeAlert issued public EEW alerts for 13 of these earthquakes. We compare PLUM and ShakeAlert alert regions with ShakeMap and “Did You Feel It?” intensity distributions. Because PLUM alert regions surround stations observed to have strong ground motions (regardless of earthquake magnitude), PLUM alerts reliably include locations that experience significant shaking. This is not necessarily the case for ShakeAlert alert regions when there are large errors in magnitude or epicenter estimates. For two of the largest earthquakes in our real‐time dataset, the M 6.0 Antelope Valley and M 5.1 Petrolia earthquakes, the inclusion of PLUM would have improved real‐time ShakeAlert performance. Our results indicate that incorporation of PLUM into ShakeAlert will improve the robustness of the EEW system.

Publication Year 2022
Title Real-time earthquake detection and alerting behavior of PLUM ground-motion-based early warning in the United States
DOI 10.1785/0120220022
Authors Jessie Kate Saunders, Sarah E. Minson, Annemarie S. Baltay, Julian J Bunn, Elizabeth S. Cochran, Deborah L. Kilb, Colin T O'Rourke, Mitsuyuki Hoshiba, Yuki Kodera
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Index ID 70237103
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center