Monday, June 10, 2013

Church and science as co-workers

Vancouver archdiocese takes on earthquakes through modern technology

Mark Hume's article draws attention to infrastructure upgrades necessary to increase protection against earthquake threats on the West Coast.

All structures built before 1990 will undergo examination and renovation (if needed) to fit the new earthquake codes. Also, the archdiocese, in cooperation with the University of British Columbia's civil engineering department, will install P-wave sensors in over 30 schools and 50 churches in Metro Vancouver. The upgrade program is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. In the past 20 years, the archdiocese has spent $250 million on various building projects.

With the use of the sensors, the archdiocese becomes "a leader in Canada when it comes to seismic preparedness," said Archbishop Michael Miller.

Its churches may be watched over by patron saints and guardian angels, but the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver has decided to turn to engineers for increased protection from earthquakes that have long threatened the West Coast. 
In a statement that was released on the weekend, Archbishop Michael Miller announced that all the parishes in Metro Vancouver have been asked to “renew or rebuild their schools, churches and other buildings to meet the latest earthquake codes.”

For full story, visit the Globe and Mail website.  


  1. I wonder how the sensors will differ from these:

    long available for around $40.

  2. I doubt if it actually detects P-waves. My guess — based on customer reviews noting that they had to change the machine’s sensitivity because it went off when large trucks drove by, or when the washer went on spin cycle — is that it detects a shaking motion. That could help in a big quake, or even a small one, but I highly doubt it will give the amount of warning that Ventura’s machine does. Some of the other reviews extol the machine because it detected quakes that were miles away. One person noted he received a 3-5 second warning for a 5.3 quake in San Diego. Three seconds is okay, but 30 seconds is a life-saving eternity in a quake.

    In Japan, authorities spent $500 million on early warning systems (5,000 of quake alarms are only $200,000) and they reckon millions of lives were saved. Quake alarms could probably help in some cases, but I wouldn't count on them to give a decent warning.

    Malin Jordan

    P.S. The Japanese Meteorological Agency uses 4,235 seismometres to warn of earthquakes. They need at least two machines to pick up possible P-waves to triangulate an epicentre before they send out warnings.


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