Discover the National Earthquake Info Center

About one 8-or-higher magnitude earthquake happens each year. Earthquakes that occur between 6 and 6.9 occur as often as 134 times annually, while quakes in the 4-magnitude range happen an estimated 13,000 times every year! That’s a lot of quakes – if you live near a fault line you know all too well about how frequent quakes can be.

Science has come a long way since tracking and predicting earthquakes in recent years. The USGS Earthquakes sitecollects much of this information in an interactive portal that can teach you how to best prepare for quake safety. Learn how to use these scientific resources, join the international community of earthquake trackers, and dive into the world of quake safety by spending some time at this earthquake info center! Here are several services the USGS provides for you.

Earthquake Alerts and Real-Time Tracking

Right on the homepage, the USGS gives you a list of all significant earthquakes that have occurred within the past 30 days. This list helps you identify the most damaging quakes and where seismic activity is focused around the earth. If you are more of a visual person, you may appreciate the interactive earthquake map that the organization maintains, vividly showing the latest quakes that have occurred and their magnitude, with a handy control panel you can use to change the focus.

If you are more data oriented, the site can send automatic emails right to you when an earthquake occurs in your area. This can help you notice when seismic activity begins, a frequent precursor to larger and more damaging quakes.

Searching for Seismic Activity

If you want to dig more into the history of quakes, an earthquake search engine lets you choose an area (or the entire world) and seek information on the larger, historical quakes. Beyond the interactive map, the USGS also provides maps tracking the seismicity of the United States and the world – for the past 110 years! There is also information on the Global Seismographic Network, which can help provide greater detail on quake trends, and a number of other earthquake tracking organizations that also store their results.

Preparation and Safety for Quake Dangers

The National Earthquake center dedicates a large portion of the site to proper earthquake preparation. The Prepare section identifies several different earthquake safety options. For the more family-minded, Great Shakeout Drills can help you rehearse the emergency actions you should take in a bad quake. The Handbooks section offers specific advice for different areas of the United States. The Early Warning system explains how seismic networks can provide warnings when a big quake is on its way.

For those more interested in the commercial sector, the Multi-Hazards Demonstration project focuses on the Southern California area, bringing together engineering and city planning disciplines to make such areas safer. TheSeven Steps to Earthquake Safety section, with its broad emergency tactics approach, is useful for everyone.

Read and Learn

Earthquake science is a widely recognized international field. Find out more about how the earth is constructed, what causes quakes, and how we sense them on the Research side of the site. Topics are cleanly divided into subjects like paleoseismology, regional and whole-earth structure, and strong-motion sensors. If you want further information on one particular quake or are just curious about how data collected, learn more about the PAGER process scientists use to judge the aftereffects of a bad quake.

If you are more interested in earthquake basics or are trying to find easily digestible facts for kids, the USGS has you covered with its Learn section. The page is perfect for the beginners who want to skip the heavy-science talk and master the essentials. A glossary defines quake terms, an FAQ answers your questions quickly, and numerous photos and posters add interest to education. The USGS also suggests lesson plans, science fair ideas, online games, and scientists that might be willing to help out.

Help Monitor Quakes, Contact Local Networks

To help understand how the earth works, seismologists have created an advanced monitoring network that picks up and compares quake data. The Monitoring section offers multiple networks by region of the United States; it’s also designed to help you get involved. Yes, scientists search for volunteer monitors who can form a more complete picture of quakes by hosting seismographs at their houses and reporting suspected earthquakes directly to the organization. So what are you waiting for? Get involved in quake science yourself!

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