Greek Professor of Natural Disasters Konstantinos Synolakis from the Technical University of Crete said in an interview that Japan’s early detection system for earthquakes could be useful if implemented in Greece.

Explaining how the system works, Synolakis said that if the epicenter of an earthquake was in Heraklion, Crete, for example, it would not help the people of the city but could provide enough of a warning for citizens located further away. This is because the warning systems rely on the measurement of seismic waves through tools called accelerometers, which assess how quickly the seismic waves are travelling and trigger notifications once the waves reach a certain distance from the epicenter of the quake.

The further away a person is from the epicenter of the quake, the more time they will have to prepare.  For example, if a person is 300 km away and the wave propagation speed is 5.5 km per second, a person would have about 1 minute ahead of them. Those located closer to the epicenter would have less time.

Seeing as Greece is a highly seismic country, Synolakis says the system could and should be implemented in the country as well, pending more seismographs are installed.

Commenting on another topic related to the structural integrity and resilience of Greek architecture to earthquakes, Synolakis added that the traditional Greek apartment buildings that are based on ground-level support columns are essentially “death traps” because they are “buildings made of brick that are propped up by some toothpicks.”

The interview was conducted by ERT and in reaction to the recent 7.6 Richter earthquake in Japan which has sparked concerns within Greece about the risk of a large earthquake in the country and measures that can be taken to prevent loss of life.