Nepal project troubleshoots earthquake warning systems

The overall aim of the NepalEEW project is to test the feasibility of an Earthquake Early Warning system in Nepal. If successful, the system would detect early stages of an earthquake, issue alerts, and provide critical time for users to seek cover or exit a building before the shaking arrives. During two field trips in winter 2021 and spring 2022 the team deployed 37 seismic instruments in a densely populated area in central Nepal between the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara. The network monitors earthquake activity in the region in real-time and sends data to servers that determine magnitude and location of earthquakes and issues test alerts.

Our seismic stations use local sources of electricity and internet over Wi-Fi, which seems to be the biggest challenge of the project yet. During the last 12 months the team faced many station disconnections mainly due to issues with power and internet. Therefore, one of the major goals of the April 2023 trip was to visit all sites, find out reasons for station disconnection, and try to improve the system to secure better connectivity in future. The team found that changing the Wi-Fi password of the local network was the main reason for disconnected stations. The team tried to simplify password update procedure on the station and trained project participants on how to make the change. They have also installed a new version of the sensor that connects to cellular internet to potentially bypass this issue in future.

During the fieldwork, the project team visited the region between the cities of Pokhara and Kathmandu (Lesser Himalaya), and two valleys around the Annapurna massif – the Jomsom and Manang valley. The pictures capture the sensor installation and the Upper Manang region.

During this phase of the project, the work continues seismic observations in the region and a close watch on connectivity of the stations. The project lead (PI) is also talking to their Nepali partners about the project’s continuation, during which the PI would extend the seismic network in the whole country to eventually start delivering public alerts and notifications.