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November 22, 2016

Here’s what earthquake early warning looks like

Here's what earthquake early warning looks like

When a large earthquake struck the coast of Japan near Fukushima Tuesday morning, people all across the country were alerted nearly immediately–most in advance of significant shaking at their location–by the nation’s sophisticated early warning system. Early warning doesn’t predict the onset of an earthquake, but it does predict the shaking level and time of arrival at locations all around the epicenter once one has begun but before its seismic …

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November 18, 2016

Complex, compound New Zealand earthquake – Part 2: Faulting by Day

Complex, compound New Zealand earthquake - Part 2: Faulting by Day

Reeling from the massive M7.8 earthquake at midnight, its relentless aftershocks, and the continuing coastal threat of tsunami, New Zealanders awaited daylight on Monday to see the full extent of the destruction. The bizarre seismic records observed overnight had raised confusion and speculation about what faults were to blame for this earthquake. With an epicenter on land but also a several meter tsunami, it was clear that some complicated combination of on- …

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May 6, 2015

It’s 2015. We respond to earthquakes from space.

It's 2015. We respond to earthquakes from space.

The seismic waves ringing out from Nepal on April 25 reached sensors around the planet, mobilizing a vast, remote response that’s truly a sign of the times in modern seismic disaster recovery. While Kathmandu and the surrounding towns and villages stood shocked and crippled by the now-named Gorkha earthquake, satellites sweeping by overhead quickly gathered a picture of the scene, transmitting intricate detail of the disaster to the world with …

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March 11, 2015

Hollywood and the USGS both have announcements about California quakes

Hollywood and the USGS both have announcements about California quakes

The last day has been chock full of big public-facing announcements regarding earthquakes, so it’s a good time to step in and sort them out, as well as a good time for (real life) earthquake scientists to capitalize on the surge of awareness. The big real news comes from the USGS, which has finalized and released the most advanced seismic hazard model of California to date, the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture …

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October 24, 2014

California quake aftermath seen from above

California quake aftermath seen from above

As Northern Californians picked up the pieces and cooled their nerves on the afternoon of August 24th, just hours after being jostled or lurched from bed by the 3:20am magnitude 6.0 South Napa quake, a satellite an aircraft whizzing by overhead snapped a shot of the scene. Check out some of these remarkable scenes within it that show damage, response, and recovery. The image is now visible in Google Earth, and in Google Maps on …

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September 11, 2014

Lurching ground and bouncing bridges in the Napa earthquake

Lurching ground and bouncing bridges in the Napa earthquake

My rides along Amtrak California’s Capitol Corridor now include an eerie stretch where they pass the site at which the highest ground motions in the Napa earthquake were recorded mere weeks ago. Just at the south abutments of the I-80 bridges over the Carquinez Strait, where the Union Pacific tracks pass through the C&H refinery, a shallow borehole seismometer recorded an acceleration of 0.99g, nearly the full force of gravity lurching soil and …

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March 12, 2014

Tohoku tsunami maps: lessons for the Pacific Northwest

Tohoku tsunami maps: lessons for the Pacific Northwest

As we pass the three-year mark since one of the most astoundingly gargantuan earthquakes in human history, we marvel at the unprecedented opportunity it gave us to understand earthquakes, tsunamis, oceanic subduction, litho-hydro-atmospheric coupling, plate tectonics, and the Earth itself. We can also appreciate, with humble reverence, the lessons it continues to teach us about the social dimensions of disaster trauma, risk, and resilience. Japan continues to struggle, now largely …

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February 18, 2014

How hard has your zip code shaken?

How hard has your zip code shaken?

Did you feel it? …Ever? These USGS maps show the highest shaking intensity reported in every zip code throughout the U.S. (and cities of the world) in the past two decades. 1991 – 2012  The USGS’s crowd-sourced Community Internet Intensity Maps, popularly known as “Did-You-Feel-It” maps, have been collecting online surveys of seismic shaking intensity since 1997. There’ve been plenty of quakes in that time, and in 2012 researchers put together …

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January 11, 2014

New map of Hollywood fault released

New map of Hollywood fault released

Amid an atmosphere of contention and high stakes, the California Geological Survey this week released a preliminary official map of the Hollywood Fault, one of the most threatening urban earthquake faults in the U.S. The map ( available in PDF format here ) delineates the best estimate surface trace of the Hollywood fault, which forms the southern boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains in urban Los Angeles. It also defines a “special …

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December 9, 2013

AGU 2013: Earth Science-palooza

AGU 2013: Earth Science-palooza

After braving excruciating cold, ice-bound airports, and snow-covered mountain passes to get here, some 21,000 Earth Scientists have descended on San Francisco for the annual AGU Fall Meeting. They’ll all be happy to know that the National Weather Service calls for freezing temperatures in all areas except San Francisco tonight. So everyone from Back East can still pretend they’re having a balmy California vacation while we locals wrap our heads …

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