Seismic Sentinel

Jocelyn is a staff writer for Science magazine.

For a whole-Earth guide to our planet's rumblings--be they the two deadly earthquakes in 4 months in Turkey or the faint threat of a major tremor in the U.S. Midwest--visit the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a consortium of 91 institutions that oversees the world's seismographic data.

The IRIS site was originally set up for researchers "as a big clearinghouse" for downloading seismic data, says Web master Deborah Barnes, and its 2000-plus pages "may seem a little overwhelming," acknowledges an introduction to the site. Get oriented by clicking on the Seismic Monitor, a world map dotted with scores of circles showing seismic activity every half-hour. For data collected by over 1200 permanent monitoring stations, try the Data Management System page, where you can pick from various viewing tools depending on whether you like your info raw or massaged, historical or this very second. Other features friendly to neophytes include buttons for generating maps of quakes in specific regions and animations of fault types--they can slip up, down, or sideways. IRIS also sets up special pages for major quakes--most recently in Turkey, Mexico, Taiwan, and California--that include seismograms, a map of historical temblors in that area, links to seismology reports from that country, news sources, and other relevant Web sites.

Posted in Earth