Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Did you feel it?

wow I can't believe so much of May has gone by already...time moves quickly!

I have 3 children who all live in different places. Two live in pretty active seismic regions (Guatemala and San Fransisco) and the third lives in a quiescent seismic area, Washington DC. So, I was very interested to read on Callan's and Tuff's blogs about the recent Washington DC earthquake and the amount of data collected from it, principally, the "Did you feel it?" information.

My wife was talking on the phone to our son when a M5.6 earthquake hit the bay area on October 31, 2007. As they I was able to get onto the National earthquake Information Center and watch their network do its thing and then start watching the map show who felt was pretty cool to watch.

Our daughter in Guatemala felt a smaller M4.8 event just last month. Now you would expect their to be fewer Internet connected computers in Guatemala especially since I am comparing them to Silicon Valley, and yes, the amount of information on the NEIC web site is minimal. But, our daughter tells us that the cell phone network of Peace Corps volunteers was busy that night as they all did their own reporting about who felt what.

However, I am not surprised that either location experienced an earthquake with far more energy than anything they experienced as a child growing up in Colorado.

Our third child holds one of those ubiquitous government jobs in DC and when I found out that she experienced an earthquake I was quite surprised. (I really shouldn't be as I have been learning about the violent geologic history of Washington and vicinity from NOVA Geoblogs.) The small M1.8 didn't slow down congress but did give her semi-geologist father something to talk about the next time she called.

What has been fun is being able to use these events to show my geology students how dynamic the earth really is and it makes for some great assignments! Currently of course the China earthquake and the eruption of Chaiten is a much more powerful reminder of how dynamic the earth can be and somehow gives more gravity to the lessons of earthquake theory.

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