Seismic data!

As many of you are aware, there was an earthquake in Canada today that was felt on both sides of the provincial border between Quebec and Ontario in the Outaouais region as well as on both sides of our national border with the US. Shortly after the earthquake occurred, I searched for up to the minute seismic data.

I immediately went to Earthquake Canada, and sadly it was not working, and did not start working until well after the twittersphere fed many USGS links. See #earthquake.

When Earthquake Canada started to work, there was just a mention of a seismic event. At 6PM today, I accessed the following informative data:

The USGS Earthquake Hazard Program worked immediately and delivered the following information in near real time:


The Earthquake Canada data display is static, does not provide the user with much context but is aesthetically pleasing. The USGS data display was instantaneous, dynamic and was accompanied with a visual cue enabling the viewer to decipher the magnitude of the quake on a scale. The data are easy to read and the user can zoom in and out to see more precisely where the earthquake occurred.

Both services ask the public to provide information about what they felt. The Canada Felt Report wishes to assess:

the extent of shaking and damage for earthquakes in Canada. The specific details you may provide will help us determine how your area may respond to future earthquakes.

In the US the Did you Feel it? solicits the reporting of unknown events and provides a list of up to the minute data from which the user can assess whether or not their report is new.

Both sites also provide educational information. The USGS site also provides real time data feeds and KML formats as well as a Earthquake Notification Service.

Both sites also provide access to a variety of seismic data. The Geological Survey of Canada has a fully searchable Earthquake Database containing data starting in 1985, albeit the data are made accessible with a rather restrictive end-user agreement. The USGS Catalog searches a number of databases that are global or region specific, provided by different agencies and have varying date ranges. Because data are accessed from numerous databases it was difficult to assess data licensing, however, generally in the US data are a public record and are in the public domain.

Overall, the USGS fared better on timeliness, reliability, useability, interactivity, includes more data, and has at a glance the data can be used with less restrictions. I however, am partial to the cartography on the Canada GSC site.