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I love this U.S. Geological Survey site web site and I just have to do a blog piece about it. I guess we could use the topic of “denial of availability risk” as the computer security category. It’s kind of like the tail wagging the dog, but, what the heck.

It came to my attention when David Kennedy Manager of Risk Analysis at Verizon Business mentioned an earthquake and referred to the USGS data in a Twitter post.

I’ve been a lunatic about nearly every field of science since, oh, about the fifth grade, so I look at this every day. The map indicates quakes on a world map with color and size-coded squares. Red squares indicate quakes in the last hour, blue in the last day and yellow in the last week. Larger squares indicate stronger quakes.

I felt an Earthquake once. It was the level 4.4 April 23 quake in Lancaster County, Pa. I was working on my computer in the second floor of my in-laws home in a very rural,  very quiet place in Northeastern, Pennsylvania. The little wood-frame house seemed to flex. I went downstairs and ask if anyone else had felt it. They hadn’t. The thrilling experience was apparently covered up by sound from the television.

I found a description of it on the USGS site.

“This earthquake was centered near Marticville. It caused minor damage at Conestoga, where a garage shifted 1.3 cm off its foundation; plaster fell from a ceiling; and cracks formed in windows, concrete basement walls, and a cistern.”

“One foreshock occurred 5 days earlier and many slight aftershocks occurred. Aftershock data suggested a north-northeast fault dipping steeply east, with reverse, right-lateral slip consistent with a horizontal east-northeast axis of maximum compression. The geometry of the 1984 rupture conforms to the strike of Jurassic dikes and associated faults in the epicentral area.”

Whoa I actually lived through “the strike of Jurassic dikes!”

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The amazing thing is how MANY quakes there are on the map. Of course a lot of them are pretty minor events, like my 1984 experience. Still, the site does draw your attention to the earthquake risk that some people on Earth do face, like in nearly every point of land that the Pacific Ocean touches.

How could you use this? Since an earthquake can cause disruptions to utilities — including Internet and electrical service and maybe all life in general as we’ve seen in Haiti — if you’re looking for a location to set up shop or a company offering off-site backup services, you could double check locations with this site. USGS even has a map of all the recorded quakes that caused damage in the U.S. since 1750:


I’d say by the looks of that, if you are really paranoid about this issue, relocating to North Dakota, Wisconsin or Iowa would be a good bet.

Here at Sunbelt Software headquarters in Clearwater in the southern part of Florida we’ve been earthquake free for the last 250 years too. YESSSS!

USGS Latest Earthquakes in the World here:

Tom Kelchner