How does earthquake information work

Knowing when earthquakes occur "as soon as possible" is a tricky proposition, especially for someone who is not in the effected region.

Information disseminates from the region in two ways:

  • as earthquake news
  • as earthquake data.

Regions that are well seismically monitored with a modern communication infrastructure are the fastest, most reliable earthquake information conduits (i.e; the United States, Europe, Japan, etc.). Conversely, regions that are poorly monitored with primitive lines of communication are the slowest and least reliable information streams (Indonesia, Melanesia, South Pacific Islands, Antarctica etc.).

Wire News

Wire news is often the quickest source of knowing when a significant earthquake has occurred in a modern communication infrastructure. Unfortunately, it is not always the most reliable as the relativeness of what is a "significant" earthquake may vary considerably between individual news agencies as well as the individual reporters. For example, Associated Press, with its broad reach of syndicated news reporters, will often post a wire message that a "significant" earthquake has occurred in some effected area with minutes of the quake, however, the true magnitude of the "significant"quake can vary from M8+ temblor to as little as M4.0, which is barely strong enough to topple light objects from tables or shelves. See this example here.

While there are several hazards to wire news, knowing how to incorporate it into your information stream can leverage valuable decision making time and, ultimately be the key to being first with earthquake news.

Seismic Monitoring

Fortunately, there is a definitive path of reliability through the multiple hazards of wire news and that is seismic monitoring. When an earthquake occurs, it produces seismic waves which travel both through the Earth as well as across the Earth's surface. Although it takes no more than 30 minutes for the seismic waves to travel to the opposite side of the planet, accurately measuring the waves depends upon several variables, including where are the closest sensors, how many sensors are used, who owns the sensors, and who does the data processing - all of which can be as quick as a few seconds to as long as several hours and even a few days!

Recent scientific and political advancements have allowed for a sufficient number of sensors to be deployed throughout the world by which several monitoring organizations can access the raw seismic data and perform the their analytical processes to determine a "magnitude" or a measure of how strong was any significant earthquake. Some areas of greater human interest, like Southern California, Japan and Taiwan, are literally carpeted with sensors which are patched into a local seismic network and provide near-real time access to the data along with a high degree of reliability. As tectonic action occurs away from these densely monitored areas, the data access and analytical processing time increases, sometimes delaying the information for hours to days (especially if it is a national holiday - even in the United States).

Although there has been a real push in recent years for automating the analytical process and conforming to unified processing system, is a long way off from reality. In fact, while most local monitoring institutions can access the seismic wave data within minutes of the quake, they still must rely on human interactions for determining a preliminary magnitude. This is especially true for earthquakes in significant locations as the scientists want to be sure of their results before going public. However, some regions have overcome this human bottle-neck and have recently deployed automated analytical systems which can then be mined as rapid earthquake news information sources.

There are literally dozens of local and global networks all over the world and a key to rapid access to earthquake data is having premium access to the these monitoring centers. Knowing how to be first at the "seismic data feeding trough", so to speak, is essential to early notification and this is where Seismo-Watch will give you a distinct advantage over other, less efficient information systems.\

The connections Seismo-Watch has cultivated over the years in the seismic data market are unparalleled and can be the difference between minutes or even hours of knowing when a significant earthquake has occurred, which basically translates into either gainful rewards or lost opportunities.

Seismo-Watch, your professional earthquake news and information source.

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