USGS Releases Awesome 1906 Earthquake Documentary Using Google Earth

The USGS has developed a truly definitive documentary web site which uses Google Earth as the primary visualization tool in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake which devastated the San Francisco Area. The web site walks you through several segments describing various elements of the 1906 Quake and also the hazards and current conditions of the San Andreas and Hayward Faults today. Each segment includes a Google Earth KMZ file which includes a layer of visual information illustrating that segment. The USGS goal is to not only illustrate the most damaging earthquake in US History, but also to visualize and understand the causes and effects of this and future earthquakes.
Included in the visual elements are many Google Earth files, which I recommend you view along with the web site starting here. Here are sample of some of the more interesting ones: location and extent of the faults and the 1906 quake, historic photos of the 1906 quake, 3D model graphs showing the rupture length and slip , a shaking intensity map overlay, and illustrations showing the hazards of the bay area today and susceptability to conditions which might cause serious damage to structures. Also check out the real-time earthquakes network link.
This product was produced by the USGS Northern California Earthquake Hazards Program, Luke Blair, a geologist and Director of the USGS Geographic Information Laboratory, presented the new documentary at a press conference (inlcudes link to video of presentation) today.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. The Earthquake documentary was fantastic and impossible to be as good without Google Earth. Thanks for the post Paul

  2. I grew up in San Fran and this really gave me a great idea as to how huge the quake was. Thanks

  3. I am such a geek but I love all maps so of course Google Maps is the best. I actually spend a lot of time every time I fly looking at the maps in the airline magazines.

  4. I hear ya FF. I am a mapping geek myself. Ha. I do the same thing on nearly every flight myself. I recently got frustrated on an Air Tran flight as they don’t have international routes so no int’l map 🙂

  5. There are a ton of map geeks at our company. We love Google Maps and appreciate the posts and all that you guys are doing to help us to use it better. Thank you.

  6. I grew up in the Bay area and had stories for years about the great quake. The Google Maps Quake documentary was awesome. Thanks, Jimmy

  7. I saw something recently about an interview of the last living survivor of the quake. Obviously she was too young to remember the quake at the time but had some very interesting stories to tell.

  8. Cool, I wish had seen that interview. When and where was it on?

  9. Anybody know if this is going to be shown again?

  10. I agree, would love to see it.

  11. I would like to see some programs utilizing Gmaps for some of the more recent disasters.

  12. Completely agree with the most recent poster. I think there is lots to learn from studying the recent disasters to learn more about how to be more prepared for coming ones. Thanks, JT

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