The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded $2.2 million to Caltech for additional development on ShakeAlert, an earthquake early warning system.

The Caltech grant was part of a $12.5 million USGS commitment to seven West Coast universities, including UC Berkeley.

Caltech and the USGS have worked on ShakeAlert since 2006. The state of California signed on in 2013, directing the Office of Emergency Services to help develop the system with the USGS.

Doug Given, a USGS geophysicist who heads the organization's earthquake early warning program, said "the system performed extremely well during the (July) Ridgecrest sequence but could be improved with more sensors."

The grants, he added, support "further development to other aspects of the system, including algorithms that provide quake magnitude, impact and location information, which are undergoing improvement through the work of researchers."

The earthquake early warning system — which operates in California, Washington and Colorado — costs $28 million annually, Given said. California's OES has contributed $42 million to the program since 2016.

The system's cost is partially offset by donations from private foundations, Given said, "(but) we are dependent on private companies to develop uses for this technology. We are trying to foster an earthquake early warning industry to use this new capability."

The USGS received a $21.5 million grant from Congress earlier this year, and used part of those funds to secure an additional $1.5 million worth of earthquake monitoring equipment.

Tech reporter Samson Amore can be reached at samore@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8335. Follow him on Twitter @samsonamore.

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