“Earthquake…. earthquake…” That was the warning to scientists at the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, at 3:20 a.m. Sunday morning (Aug. 24), 10 seconds before the 6.0 magnitude temblor along the Napa Fault rattled people and buildings from wine country down to Berkeley and San Francisco. It came from the ShakeAlert system being tested by UC Berkeley, Caltech, the U.S. Geological Survey and other partners.

Richard Allen, the lab’s director, wrote in a recent issue of the journal Nature that action taken last fall by Gov. Jerry Brown to create a California earthquake early-warning system should be followed by the United States and other countries, “rather than waiting until the next big quake galvanizes political action” because of loss of life and property.