Virginia Earthquake felt in NY!

I was having a small meeting at my desk at about 5 minutes before 2 when I felt my leg wobble. I thought at first that I was having a muscle spasm and shifted weight in my seat. It didn’t stop, and I lost track of the conversation when I noticed my monitors swaying. Mentioning it to those nearby, they all confirmed my observation and that it appeared to be an earthquake. Folks started streaming down from our second floor mezzanine claiming that there had been a very noticeable shift underfoot to the north, back to the south and north again. To me it felt like starding on a very taught water bed as what became a rolling motion was transmitted through my feet and the chair. The shaking, which was felt by nearly everyone in the building lasted about 20-25 seconds. I checked on the USGS site for the latest earthquake activity, and did not evacuate as per order when I saw that there had been a sizable quake in Virginia 5 minutes prior and knew that what we were feeling must be the transmitted shock thereof. I did report my experience on the USGS site (link below). This is a good one to bookmark – it helped us understand what had just happened pretty quickly.

from USGS

Google Earth in Ubuntu 11.04

Installing Google Earth in Ubuntu 11.04 turned out to be as easy as downloading the latest version from here and double-clicking it, but not until I had already tried to download the source and build an install package manually. I’m not sure how this would have worked, but I gave up when Ubuntu barked that it was a “bad package” and instead of continuing on, I decided to look for an official package instead. I had, by that time already installed lsb-core though, and I don’t know which version I had or if that matters. The first time Google Earth ran, the fonts looked terrible. This is a common problem (and I’ve had it before on other Linux installs, but installing the core Microsoft fonts package fixed up the problem immediately.

sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Once trying to use the program I noticed that it was running *really* slow, pausing every few seconds or so, basically unusable. I got kinda worried that maybe I wasn’t set up to use my Intel on-board graphics card correctly (that maybe I needed to use a different driver) and started poking around. Armagetron, another program I run that needs serious graphics horsepower runs fine though. glxgears gave me just under 60fps which seemed really low but was suspiciously exactly the frequency of the monitor so perhaps thats just a red herring. I was starting to get discouraged when I noticed I had a bunch of updates to do. I did those and rebooted and Google Earth was running as slick as ever (glxgears fps numbers didn’t improve). Not sure if something got updated that needed to be, or if I really just needed to reboot after installing lsb-core or google earth itself.

So I started poking around for cool things to do in Google Earth and came across:
USGS Real-Time Earthquakes KML which is just so Geo-geek awesome I had to share.

Yellowstone awakens

Time magazine reports that recent earthquakes at Yellowstone have been raising fears that the volcano at Yellowstone, which normally expresses itself only through the benign rhythmic spouting of the Old Faithful geyser, may be re-awakening. A recent check of the USGS page for earthquakes in the last 7 days at Yellowstone listed 273 earthquakes in that period in the region under Yellowstone Lake. The USGS refers to that as a ‘notable swarm’ of earthquakes, which is somewhat less than reassuring.
Continue reading “Yellowstone awakens”

Real Time Earthquake Forecast

The USGS now offers a real-time Earthquake forecast for California. You can grab a cup of java, check the weather and scores and double check that your trip to San Francisco is still low probability for imminent death and destruction. Here’s the USGS page.
How it works
(from the site)

The background probability of shaking exceeding Modified Mercalli Intensity VI is taken from the National Hazard Maps. This background probability does not change with time. The highest probabilities in California are near San Francisco and Los Angeles and reach 1 in 10,000 per day.

The system then considers all the earthquakes, large and small, that are recorded by the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN). For each event, the probability that it will be followed by an earthquake large enough to cause strong shaking is calculated from the known behavior of aftershocks. The shaking that would be produced by such an earthquake is then predicted from the known relations between earthquake size and shaking patterns and the likelihood of that shaking is added to the background probability on the map.