How Earthquake Sensors Work, Term Paper Example

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Introduction

Earthquakes are among the most devastating natural tragedies that have long been affecting the human society. In the pages recorded about human history, earthquake has become a relative condition by historians to be the deadliest kind of tragedy that has killed millions through the years. This is the reason why it is very important that the development of a device or a system that would be able to detect the occurrence of an earthquake before it happens be created to save the lives of people who might be in danger when the earthquake hits particular locations (Needham, 1999). Through the years, engineers have been trying to perfect the operations that are performed by several types of developed earthquake detectors used to identify particular conditions that might pertain to the occurrence of the said natural catastrophe (Needham, 1999). Doing so aims to create possible conditions that would lessen the impact of the earthquake especially in relation to lives that are lost to the situation along with other infrastructures that are also damaged during such occurrences.

Components Making up the Indication of an Upcoming Earthquake

Earthquakes are best defined through the occurrence of irregular intensity of the earth’s movements. These movements are called waves. As of now, there are three particular types of waves that are being measured accordingly by the currently developed earthquake detectors. These waves are namely the preliminary wave, the secondary wave and the surface wave. These waves have a strong impact on how the creation of possible safety procedures would be developed to further impose a reliable system that would not only be able to define the possibility of an incoming quake but also save the lives of the people who are likely to be affected by the upcoming tragedy. Understandably, earthquake sensors are expected to both protect the values of the people and prevent the loss of those valuables even before the occurrence of earthquakes. The precautionary reminders that the said programs provide intend to establish a clear source of distinction on whether or not a location may be prone to earthquakes. This approach would effectively define if a particular location is viable for development [proper area for establishing buildings and other infrastructures] or perhaps it needs to be avoided for such particular developmental options.

To note, the three waves are defined according to the different levels of movements that they present from the ground towards the surface. The primary wave or the P-wave is measured as the movement that is caused by the compressions on the ground. Slower than the secondary-wave and is less felt compared to the latter form of movement. It is often found to be a movement that defines the location at least 4km away from the epicenter of the developing earthquake (Richter, 1998). It is characterized to be more of a push and pull movement that could be often felt through the windows and glasses surrounding the house. This indicates that the wave could pass through liquid and solid masses therefore intensifying its effects. Nevertheless, this is not yet as devastatingly dangerous as other levels of earth movements.

The secondary movement or also known as the S-wave is characterized by stronger impacts of earth collision, which is also often referred to as the shear waves (Richter, 1998). This imposes an up and down movement which indicates vibrations affecting all direction. This type of movement could be gauged to have a velocity between primary waves and the surface waves. The surface wave is often regarded as the most destructive of all forms of earth movements as it does reach the surface where the infrastructures are established and thus can be felt directly by the human individuals above the ground. Although they are noted as the slowest (Richter, 1998), their velocity is often assumed to have a greater impact on the actual ground where humans live in.

Assuming the impact and the concentration of each wave [as to which location they are actually coming from and what impact they have to the lives of humans living above the ground] provides a clear distinction on how earthquake sensors could impose a sense of preparation for the incoming stronger intensities of earthquake. This way reducing damages that it could impose on areas it would likely affect becomes possible. Depending on the intensity of the earth’s movement as recorded in the sensor, preparations could be further imposed as needed.

Understanding the System behind the Operation          

Earthquake sensor devices often follow to basic principles. One is that of the internal mass being the focal element that the gadget or the instrument is supposed to measure and another is that the recording process should be as accurate as possible especially in relation to time and intensity measurement (Richter, 1998). Most sensors record every possible movement on the earth therefore reducing any particular shortcomings that may occur if not all movements are not assessed thoroughly by seismologists. However, to be able to indicate that a specific movement is indeed a sign of an upcoming earthquake, the intensity should be thoroughly examined and measured accordingly. The mass that is attached to the system’s operational function and setup is what makes the recording system more accurate as the magnetic system intends to separate the less alarming movements to the more indicative ones that should get attention from the ones who are assessing the recorded points of waves.

The complexity of the devices used to gauge earth movements depends on which particular assessors are expected to use them. For seismologists, who have studied the indication of earthquakes closely, the procedure of recording and assessment are usually more complex. However for other gadgets that are noted as earthquake sensors that are intended for home use are less complex, easier to understand and are embedded with immediate reaction response that could alarm the owners if they already need to vacate their homes or if there are any particular risks that they should be ready for. Such an option of operation could be better defined in the system presentation as follows:

Source of Illustration

(Source of Illustration: SOS life. http://www.lamit.ro/earthquake-early-warning-system.htm.    November 20, 2012.)

Observe from this diagram how the data acquisition process occurs in relation to the filtering of the waves that have been received and recorded in the frame of the instrument. The detection is immediately assessed by the instrument itself through measuring the intensity of the movement. The detection of disturbance is recorded however does not immediately resound alarm unless the intensity of the wavelength of the movement reaches the threshold as recorded in the instrument’s system itself (Reitherman, 2012). Through logically assessing movements according to algorithm, the measurement of wavelengths of the earth’s motion is better defined hence giving out more accurate reading that would better define whether or not the owner of the device should prepare for evacuation for an impending occurrence of an earthquake. While this particular device is helpful to families and individuals who would want to track the earth’s movements personally and thus get ready for any impending tragedies that might come, it still pays to listen intently to local guidelines and reports provided through the local stations that are giving out specific protocols for the community to follow.

Seismic sensors are also currently used to identify locations that are vulnerable to earthquakes. The regular measurement of the earth’s movements from the most subtle to the most alarming motions provide a great source of information as to which particular locations in a specific area is most likely to experience earthquake that could be devastating to particular infrastructures that are being planned to be established in the said areas (Reitherman, 2012). Relatively, this is how such earthquake sensors serve as early warning devices that could better identify the capacity of a location to gold industrial developments especially in relation to the land’s vulnerability to destructive natural catastrophes like earthquake.

Conclusion

Earthquake sensors are most often than not electronic in nature. With the advancement of technology, it is expected that further developments on the current sensors used both in weather stations and in homes would be given attention to so as to assure safety and precautionary measures against the possible occurrence of earthquakes. Being able to contend with such developments are expected to improve the manner by which earthquakes are better prepared for and lives are better put into safety [as well as that of the infrastructures that are found in specific locations where earthquakes are likely to occur]. Having these sensors ready both for general and home use does not only protect the lives and the valuables of the people but also creates a much better measurement that indicates whether or not an area is capable of handling industrial development considering its status in relation to its vulnerability to earthquakes and other general natural catastrophes.

References:

SOS-Life. http://www.lamit.ro/earthquake-early-warning-system.htm. (November 20, 2012).

Needham, Joseph (1999). Science and Civilization in China, Volume 3: Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth. Cambridge: Cambridge.

Richter, C.F. (1998). Elementary Seismology. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.

Reitherman, Robert (2012). Earthquakes and Engineers: an International History. Reston, VA: ASCE Press. pp. 122–125.

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