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Seismic Station Spared

A key site in the quake monitoring system, once feared lost in fires, is now back in service.

November 12, 2003|Kenneth Reich | Times Staff Writer

Inspectors from the U.S. Geological Survey have discovered that a seismic monitoring relay station feared burned in the wildfire near Lake Arrowhead was not destroyed, but merely had its power cut.

Once power was restored, 60 stations that transmit earthquake data through the Strawberry Peak relay station were brought back online to monitor seismic activity, said Egill Hauksson, a manager of the California Integrated Seismic Network.

The surprise discovery that the station was intact came after witnesses had said nearby structures were burned.

Originally, it had been feared that 66 of the 360 stations in the seismic network had been knocked down by the Southern California fires. Now, only three, near Oat Mountain in the Santa Susana Mountains, are confirmed lost, Hauksson said.

The seismic network managers had once calculated a $300,000 loss, but now losses may be only several thousand dollars.

The network has to be extensive to pick up small quakes, in the magnitude 2 and 3 range, and to pinpoint their locations so that maps can be drawn by computers within minutes of the event.

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