Recently, we read a couple of very interesting articles on the two recent earthquakes – a 6.4 magnitude quake that occurred on July 4, followed by a 7.1 on July 5th, both on a fault near Ridgecrest, about 125 miles away from Los Angeles – both of which really brought home the power of online media coverage.
The first story comes from the Los Angeles Times, which published an animation of several satellite photos showing the ground in the Mohave desert before and after the quakes. The dramatic images illustrate the power of the quakes, the strongest we’ve had in Southern California in two decades. Explained the Times:
“Animated slides show how the quake permanently jolted a huge block of earth northwest while the other side of the fault moved southeast.
Some of the clearest images show long scars on the surface of the Mojave Desert, indicating precisely the 30 miles of earthquake fault — oriented in a northwest-southeast direction — that moved within moments on July 5.”
Another photo from the Times shows how a dry stream bed split, with one side moving 13 feet away from the other side.
According to the Times:
“I’ve never seen this before,” said Brian Olson, engineering geologist with the California Geological Survey. “It’s really dramatic and a super-good illustrator, even for the advanced scientists, all the way down to the grade-school kids.”
The images show “the scale of movement and the permanency of movement — this ground moved in places up to 13 feet, permanently. It’s not going back,” Olson said.
Some of the most widely circulated before-and-after GIFs that have been receiving attention by California earthquake scientists were created using imagery from Google Earth and DigitalGlobe by an earthquake geologist based in Greece, Sotiris Valkaniotis, who collaborates with the National Observatory of Athens.”
Also, last week the New York Times published a story about how the two big quakes were part of a swarm of some 16,000 earthquakes that were too small for most of us to notice.
The graphics are animated too, showing the progression of the quakes over time. It’s very cool and worth checking out. And, it’s a good reminder that seismic activity is happening around us all the time.
Both of these stories are more powerful because they are rendered online. The use of animation to illustration the seismic activity is unique to digital platforms and no trees were harmed in delivering the news!
[Editor’s note: for yet another outstanding recent use of online graphics, time-lapse animation, video, video collage, 3-D perspective and more to illuminate a big news story, be sure to also see the NYT’s recent article showing how the Cathedral of Notre Dame was saved by firefighters during the recent catastrophic fire there. It’s less local, but even more ambitious!]