With two major earthquakes striking Mexico in period of just two weeks, what better time to consider beefing up seismic monitoring stations?
Earthquake specialists in Baja California are seeking to reinforce the system that monitors seismic activity along the San Andreas fault, which runs along the length of the Baja peninsula and into southwestern California.
Monitoring on the Mexican side is conducted by the Scientific Research and Higher Education Center of Ensenada (Cicese) and the Geodetic Network of Northwestern Mexico (Regnom).
The latter entity has 25 monitoring stations dedicated to studying seismic activity in the region, but specialists told the newspaper Reforma that the station infrastructure must be reinforced, because communications failures are common due to the region’s geographic characteristics, and pose a challenge for data collection efforts.
An important part of the reinforcement is improving communication with remote stations.
“It is possible to link to the stations via satellite, but the process is very expensive and requires the installation of antennae,” explained Cicese specialist Alejandro González Ortega, who said that specialists have to travel to each of the stations every three to six months to collect the data stored within them.
“What’s next is to find options and overcome the technological challenge of communicating with all stations. Given the geographic characteristics and the communication capabilities, some stations are linked via internet, while some others via radio,” said González.
González is the seismologist running Regnom, a network that was created after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the peninsula in 2010.
The staff led by González has enlarged the network, with the installation this year of four monitoring stations in the Sierra Juárez region and the rehabilitation of a GPS-equipped station located on Coronado island.
“2018 will be an important year for the network, as it marks three years since the installation of the first stations,” he said.
The data will provide scientists with more information about the movements of tectonic plates.