An Earthquake for the New Year

Just moments ago, I felt a tremor while working in my home office.  Both the ground and the walls shook.  It lasted for about 6 to 8 seconds.  Before I could react, it was over.  For those of us who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, we know exactly what we felt.  It was an earthquake.  In fact, a number of you quickly posted your reactions to FaceBook.

I guesstimated that it was no larger than a 4.5 quake.  To verify, I visited the USGS Website.  USGS rated the quake at 4.1.  On the website, USGS also provides a Did You Feel It tool that allows anyone to report an earthquake.  By answering a number of questions (6 pages worth of voluntary data), you help to define the location, duration, and the intensity of the quake.  I was among the first to submit the form for today’s quake.  But amazingly, over 10,000 people also reported the event using the tool within the first hour.

The map on the right (above) visualizes the earthquake’s intensity as defined by the thousands of people who reported the event.  The chart on the left defines the intensity relative to the distance from the quake’s epic center.  I downloaded the snapshot around 10:50am, although the original map on the USGS site continues to be updated as more people report the event.

As a long time resident in earthquake country, I think it’s pretty cool that we the community can help in gathering data for tracking and measuring earthquakes when they occur.  Maybe someday in the near future, we will be able help in predicting earthquakes as well.  So the next time you feel a tremor, first ensure yours and your family’s safety.  But don’t forget to ask yourself and others:  Did You Feel It?