Seismologists in China are planning to build the country's first "cloud image" system to enable the country to release timely and reliable warnings on earthquakes with magnitudes above 5.0, the Global Times reported.
According to the report, the communist nation is aiming to have an underground monitoring system with up to 2,000 stations that will help to detect earthquakes up to three weeks in advance. The project's lead scientist Wang Tun, told the English daily, the sensors will detect stress and energy dynamics in an area between 4 to 12 miles underground, where most destructive quakes originate.
While comparing the technology to X-ray or CT scanners, Wang said once the system is established, the real-time image generated from sensors will help the public forecast earthquakes of magnitudes above 5.0 as easily as reading a meteorological cloud image.
Forecasting earthquakes with a magnitude above 5.0 will be accurate to 0.5-magnitude, and authorities could release forecasts as early as three weeks ahead of time, Wang said.
The first monitoring station of the planned network was installed last week at the Yingxiu Earthquake Station in in Wenchuan, Southwest China's Sichuan, site of the deadly 8.0 magnitude earthquake on May 12, 2008 that killed over 87,000 people including 17,000 missing.