Saturday, May 23, 2009

Seismology By Text Message

Now here's something I would have shoved everything else out of the agenda to post - had my internet not been down all week. It is so great having it back, let me tell you!

Anyway. I have a well-deserved reputation among my friends for being the geekiest of the geeky when it comes to earthquakes. As a result, a lot of my friends send me text messages whenever they feel a shake - even if it turns out to be a false alarm. After the quake in San Bernardino this January, I received messages from five different people within the first two minutes.

Some of those five people were out of town this past Sunday, but I still got two texts immediately following the M4.7 on the Newport-Inglewood Fault. I did feel the quake quite distinctly here in Riverside (it right after the conclusion of an orchestral and choral concert in which I'd played - if it had been five minutes sooner, it would have been a very interesting climax to the piece!); it started fairly sharply but was mostly rolling after that. It lasted long enough that I figured it was of a decent size but not particularly close.

The first text message came from a friend in Burbank. It came so soon after the shaking had stopped in Riverside that I immediately knew the source had to be closer to there than to here, since even the most intrepid of texters can't go that fast on tiny cell phone buttons. Within a minute, I got another message from a friend who lives down the street from me in Riverside. Both of them asked me whether or not I felt it, and how big it was. I told them I didn't know how big yet (and didn't find out until over an hour later, due to my stupid internet being down), but that I at least had some travel time information!

I also felt the M4.0 aftershock on Tuesday. It came during the midterm for the class I'm TAing, and while the urge was great to shout, "Did you feel that?" to an audience of several hundred, I didn't want to be a bad proctor and disrupt any test taking. When polled after everything was handed in, about half the class said they felt a wiggle. When I encouraged my discussion sections two days later to fill out the Did You Feel It? questionnaire, one student asked if the quake is why I'd practically skipped down the aisle of the lecture hall to talk excitedly with the professor. D'oh!

As I said, I have a reputation.


Erik said...

If you want to get accurate text messages about earthquakes then sign up there.

Julian said...

Erik: I actually am signed up for those text message alerts, but the quakes last week fell outside of the area I'd specified. It is pretty silly that I get alerted to 3-pointers in the Mojave and not to 4.7s in LA, though! Time to adjust the settings.

Kim said...

one student asked if the quake is why I'd practically skipped down the aisle of the lecture hall to talk excitedly with the professor.
I love it. :D

Lockwood said...

According to the sidebar at The Accretionary Wedge, you have participated in this geology carnival in the past. We have a new edition going up soon, around the theme of "When and where would you most like to visit in person to witness something first-hand?" Are you going to be able to join our time warp? (more details at the link) We're trying to get The AW back on it's feet, and would love to have you participate. Sorry for the short notice, but late submissions will be added on as they arrive.

Lockwood said...

Absolutely! I don't really know exactly when I'll cut off new additions, but it'll be on the order of a week or two rather than a day or two.

Piero said...