The Original World-Wide Earthquake Locator

The original World-Wide Earthquake Locator was an interface developed by Bruce Gittings of the Department of Geography at the University of Edinburgh in 1994-95, very much as an illustration of what is possible using the World-Wide Web and the internet. It developed the networking aspects of work we have done building an earthquake analysis system using data dynamically obtained over the internet (1992).

The system used data available from the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC), part of the US Geological Survey. This data provides basic information about earthquakes within hours of them taking place. In reponse to a query, the data was dynamically accessed from a USGS server in Golden, Colorado. The data was then processed into an appropriate format in Edinburgh and finally displayed using the Xerox PARC Map Viewer based in Palo Alto, California again in the USA.

Some interesting principles relating to internetworking were demonstrated:

Since 2003, the mapping for the site has been provided by Mapserver. This is open-source software for constructing spatially enabled Internet-web applications. It allows the current earthquake data to be displayed on a world-map, using the longitude and latitude information provided by the USGS.

In 2004, an earthquake catalogue was added to the site, allowing users to search for specific earthquake data and to display it on a map. This also allowed the introduction of an algorithm (a type of calculation) which produces predictions of where the next very large earthquake might occur.

In 2005, the source for the earthquake data was changed from the USGS's ftp data to their RSS data. RSS (which stands for Rich Site Summary) is a format in which news headlines and other information can be distributed across the internet. A dynamic earthquake animation was also added, using Scaleable Vector Graphics (SVG). The animation is produced using data extracted from the earthquake catalogue, and automatically updates each day.

Bruce M. Gittings,
The World-Wide Earthquake Locator, 1994-2012
v6.0, August 2012, created by Christian Boermel
Supervisor: Bruce M. Gittings
Previous versions: A. Story, E. Kleiser, E. Csete, R. Sui, A. Campbell