Google Earth A to Z: Earthquakes

When earthquakes occur, tools like Google Earth can be very helpful for visualizing the affected areas and working to help those in need of assistance. Relief organizations use Google Earth and Google Maps to lay out the area and determine safe routes to travel, make notes of available medical facilities and things of that nature. Some good examples of that from the past few years include Japan, Haiti and Christchurch.


While rapidly constructed resources are invaluable for situations like these, there are also a handful of tools that work 24/7 to monitor worldwide earthquake activity. The easiest to access is the built-in layer provided by the USGS. Simply select the [Earthquakes] layer inside of the [Gallery] to turn it on. Once you zoom down to an altitude of roughly 1500 miles, the icons will begin to appear and will show every earthquake for the past few decades. Click on any of the icons for details.

For real-time monitoring, the USGS also has an earthquake monitoring tool that shows all activity for the past seven days and is quite detailed.

The USGS has quite a few other files available to view and download and we encourage you to check them out on their Earthquake Feeds & Data page.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Terrain”, you get the new 3D imagery. If you turn them both off, of course, you get a flat (but very responsive) earth.

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