Scientists this week said that an earthquake warning system is not that far off, and that smart phones such as the Apple iPhone might be able to take advantage through imminent-shaker apps.

A prototype warning system plugged into 300 sensors along the San Andreas fault is already being tested, and it could someday give SoCal residents as much as a 70-second heads-up when a temblor strikes, according to the Orange County Register.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey:

An earthquake early warning system for California is feasible in coming years, according to research being presented Dec. 14-15 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. The ongoing study demonstrates that an earthquake early warning system for California is possible and lays out how such a system could be built.

Earthquake early warning systems, already successfully deployed in Mexico, Japan and Taiwan, can detect an earthquake in progress and provide notice of seconds to tens of seconds prior to actual ground shaking. Building on developments in other countries with significant earthquake risk, scientists are exploring early warning in the United States.

After a three-year earthquake early warning study funded by the U.S. Geological Survey was completed in August 2009, a second USGS-funded project was launched to integrate the previously tested methods into a single prototype warning system. When completed, this pilot system, called the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) ShakeAlert System, will provide warning to a small group of test users, including emergency response groups, utilities, and transportation agencies. While in the testing phase, the system will not provide public alerts.

LA Weekly