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View the documentFoot Notes

Earthquake Comments

by Adam C. Engst <ace@tidbits.com>

There certainly seems to be plenty of interest in earthquakes and the Internet. I received a number of requests to reprint last weeks article about earthquakes (TidBITS-261), along with a "Nice Timing!" note from Carl Bowser of the University of Wisconsin, who used the article as a handout about what could be done on the Internet for a class in "Computer Applications in the Earth Sciences." Here then, are some of the more interesting comments and pointers.

Stefan Kukula <kukula@news1.merl.kobelco.co.jp> writes:

Thanks for your description of what you did after your earthquake. I was reading TidBITS at work this morning, and realized I had one of the affected HP DeskWriters, then read your piece, and realized I hadn't any more. In fact, I don't have a computer or apartment any more. (Our ten story block has become a nine story block.) Having been pretty much smack on the epicentre of the Kobe earthquake at the time, and feeling lucky to be alive, I'll hope you'll forgive my comment that I think a potential shortage of LCD displays is a fairly minor problem compared to the rehousing and rebuilding tasks ahead.

Nevertheless, perhaps such industry repercussions will make people pay more attention to just how fragile our world can be. A big earthquake in the Silicon Valley part of California could mean deep trouble for the computer industry, and such a possibility might be a good argument for firms to consider relocating. I can see the PR now... "Move to Scotland's 'Silicon Glen' - the geologically stable alternative."

Still, it's nice to be able to write with something other than my usual complaints about computer support for overseas users! ("I'd like a new tectonic plate; our current one has a design flaw....")

Ian Feldman <if@random.se> suggested that we also note a Web site that's reporting on the effects of the recent terrible flooding in Holland.

http://www.hvu.nl/flood/

Although we don't want to become a disaster reporting service, I think it's interesting how the Internet, and the Web in particular, has changed the way some of us think about the world. Not all that long ago, disasters were something that happened far away, and few people heard about them until afterwards. More recently, radio and then television brought the latest news and images of disaster into many homes, with that momentary horrifying image or sound bite that squeezes forth emotion but not understanding. Now, with news travelling between individuals on the Internet faster than radio and television crews can mobilize, and Web sites springing up overnight to gather and present real data about a disaster, I think we can start to move beyond that instantaneous upwelling of human sympathy to a more rational and long-lived understanding of what these events truly mean to the inhabitants. [ACE]

Jeremy Crampton <jcrampto@gmu.edu> writes:

In reference to your earthquake experiences, some of what you did (taking USGS data and feeding it to the Xerox PARC Map Server) has been set up automatically by folks in the Department of Geography at Edinburgh.

http://www.geo.ed.ac.uk/quakes/quakes.html

Richard Smith <smith@sfu.ca> writes:

My colleague, Jim Macinnes <jmacinne@sfu.ca> has rigged up a web page that lists the latest geophysical disturbances in several regions. No knowledge of Finger or arcane reading skills are needed as the data is nicely formatted and presented. The latitude and longitude coordinates are turned into hypertext links by some more "perl-of-hand" and linked to the Xerox PARC Map Server.

All in all it is a smooth and elegant solution. The work has been undertaken as a joint effort by the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology and the David Lam Centre for International Communication, both at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. The programming credit goes to Jim, though.

http://hoshi.cic.sfu.ca/quake.html

Jozsef Urmos <jurmos@zephyr.nrlssc.navy.mil> writes:

There's no need to manually feed the earthquake coordinates info to the Xerox PARC Map Server to get a map showing the epicenter location. You might try

http://www.civeng.carleton.ca/cgi-bin/quakes

to get maps of epicentral locations generated automatically from the Xerox Map Server. When you connect to these pages they initially finger the Earthquake Information Center to get the latest list of quakes and then generate a page where you can select any of those recent quakes to give you a map showing the quake's location.

I think this is probably one of the best (and neatest) uses of the net. I'm impressed by the manner in which several different information sources can be creatively combined to give something so much greater than any of the parts.

Mary Corman <mcorman@netcom.com> wrote to pass on the URL of an earthquake information page that has links to just about everything you could want, seismologically speaking.

http://www.geophys.washington.edu/seismosurfing.html