June 12, 2005

First Earthquake in New House!

About forty minutes ago, we had our first earthquake in this house -- the first earthquake that we could feel, anyway: an initial sharp shock, followed by 15-20 seconds of light rolling, and finished by another, slightly stronger shock. The U.S. Geological Survey's web site says that it was a magnitude 5.6 quake centered near Anza, California, which is about 75 miles away from us here in Anaheim. (Both Shelby and I know Anza as one of those middle-of-nowhere small towns that you drive past on your way to scout camp.)

Shelby manifested a blasť-Californian that-was-nothing-special attitude toward the quake, but it was at least enough to make items on shelves rattle back and forth. (Which reminds me -- I should probably put down that earthquake putty that we bought for our curio shelves sometime soon . . . and it wouldn't hurt to put together our household earthquake-survival kit, too, for when the real earthquake comes and Southern California descends into anarchy.) And as for dogs being able to detect and react to an earthquake before humans do: forget it. One of them might have shifted their sleeping position or lightly twitched a paw, but that was the extent of the canine reacting going on in our house.

But the quake gave us a chance to use one of my favorite Web applications: the Geological Survey's "Did You Feel It?" survey, which asks you a set of simple questions (did objects fall from shelves? were picture frames set askew? was there cracking of walls?), computes an intensity based on your answers, and then records your data along with other respondents' to create a map of percieved earthquake intensity across the region. Here's the map of percieved intensities for this morning's quake.

(And may I note that one of the entities contributing to the USGS's earthquake-mapping program is UC Berkeley's Seismological Laboratory? Go Bears! I knew someone who used to work for the seismo lab; one of his standard-issue pieces of equipment was a pager that went off whenever a significant earthquake had been detected, which happened all the time, often in the middle of the night. His wife was not pleased; I think that everyone was much happier when he went off to help search for extra-terrestrial intelligence instead.)

Posted by Kevin at June 12, 2005 09:23 AM