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April 11, 2017

Who feels earthquakes?

Who feels earthquakes?

Earthquakes are felt by people somewhere on the globe just about hourly (see this USGS list of felt earthquakes in just the last 24 hours). Some places are particularly prone to them–think Japan, Indonesia, Chile, Italy, California–while some stable parts of the continents will go generations, or even millennia, without anyone there feeling any quaking of the ground. But even in, say, California, where “felt” earthquakes occur daily, most individuals go months …

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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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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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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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August 30, 2014

Earthquake rupture through a U.S. suburb

Earthquake rupture through a U.S. suburb

In the quiet wee hours of a NorCal summer night, the ground lurched beneath the mud of the northern San Francisco Bay and sent seismic waves roaring upward and outward into the world-famous wine valley’s central city, Napa, CA. After they wreaked their havoc in Napa and nearby communities the seismic waves spread farther afield and gently rumbled most of the Bay Area and its exurbs from our weekend slumber. By the time …

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June 16, 2014

Watch buildings move during earthquakes

Watch buildings move during earthquakes

Through literal eons of Earth’s history, earthquakes have heaved the ground, shuddered the trees, and sent fauna scurrying. Yet aside from the occasional tsunami and the localized sloughing of rock faces and hillsides, they’d never really been directly injurious to the animal kingdom. …Until the animals started “sheltering” themselves under ponderous weights of precarious things. As the adage goes, “earthquakes don’t kill people; buildings do.” That edifice that so importantly protects you …

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April 18, 2014

What would the 1906 earthquake look like today?

What would the 1906 earthquake look like today?

Today is the 108th anniversary of the devastating M7.8 San Francisco earthquake. As with any “quakiversary” it’s a ripe opportunity for reflection on how earthquake knowledge and engineering have progressed since we learned from that disaster, and to consider how we would fare if faced with the same catastrophe today. One powerful way to consider how modern-day San Francisco would fare in a repeat of the 1906 quake is by …

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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 16, 2014

Two decades since L.A.’s Northridge earthquake

Two decades since L.A.'s Northridge earthquake

It’s already been twenty years since Los Angeles was last really rocked by an earthquake. The 4:31am Northridge temblor, a magnitude 6.7 that literally threw the city from its sleep, was the iconic natural disaster of the 1990s and the last in a string of quakes, fires, and mudslides to pummel Los Angeles in the early half of the decade. Though violent, destructive, and memorable, the Northridge quake struck merely …

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