Visualizing China’s Sichuan Earthquake in Google Earth

By now most of you have heard that another terrible natural disaster occurred near Sichuan, China last week. It is feared 50,000 people may have lost their lives. There have been a number of Google Earth visualizations created to help inform the public about the location of the quake and the effects. Here’s a brief list of some of the better KML files I’ve seen:

  • Sichuan Earthquake in Google EarthReal-time Quake Monitoring – The USGS earthquake monitoring tool is the first thing I turn on when I hear there has been a quake (I keep this network link in my Places folder). It shows all significant seismic activity for the past 7 days. There have been many after-shocks since the major magnitude 7.9 quake occurred.
  • Earthquake Visualization – Steven Ho from Taiwan published an excellent KML time animation showing the scale of the main quake. See a video of the animation here. You can adjust the animation speed by clicking the little clock icon to the left of the time slider. Then click the “play” button to the right of the time slider to start it.
  • Post-quake satellite imagery – On Thursday Google published a KML file showing new satellite imagery of the area of the quake. Google thanked NSPO, Taiwan’s national space agency for helping provide the imagery. It’s amazing Google managed to get this new imagery and make it available so quickly after the event.
  • Dam damage – The quakes occurred along a valley with several dams. Some of these dams have been damaged, and there is great concern about whether they will hold. OgleEarth points to a KML file which were put together by a “geo Wiki” organized by Dr. Mark Mulligan of King’s College London showing the location of the dams.

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.

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