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Early warning for earthquakes?

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley are closing in on an early-warning detection method for earthquakes, according to a report in Nature this week.

The researchers have developed a mathematical model to estimate an earthquake's strength by analyzing its first few seconds. Right now, seismologists look at how much energy is released after the temblor's shaking stops to do the same, according to the report. The data could feed into an early warning system that would give people in populated areas as much as tens of seconds to prepare, i.e., take cover, shut down bridges, etcera.

Still, scientists have been working on such a system for some time, and experts say that it will take years before something is in place.