A device expected to minimize, or even prevent, much of the damage associated with medium to strong earthquakes has been announced publicly.
The equipment, developed and offered by Earthquake Safety Engineering Inc. of Los Angeles, will instantaneously shut off all of a building's gas, electricity and water five to 10 seconds before the arrival of destructive earthquake waves, according to company President Paul T. Regan.
He explained to a news conference at the Greater Los Angeles Press Club that earthquake waves are produced in two forms, horizontal and vertical. The horizontal waves cause structural damage, mostly beginning at amplitudes of 3 on the Richter scale.
But the vertical waves, which activate the device, travel ahead of the horizontal waves and arrive earlier, usually by five to 10 seconds, depending on the quake epicenter's distance from the protected structure. Sensitivity of the "trigger" is set to avoid its activation by traffic or what he called micro-quakes.