The earth moved for me

The earth moved for me. It moved for Mr Bee too. And for lots of other people in the lower North Island of New Zealand at 7am this morning. The earthquake was a long way from where we live, and about 200km deep, so even though it measured 5.7 on the Richter scale, we experienced as a small jolt and a jiggle, a mere frisson of excitement.

What I have found interesting about this earthquake is watching it being reported on GeoNet. A few minutes after the quake, I opened up the NZ Quakes app on my iPad, and got the details of scale and depth and distance. I refreshed the screen 15 minutes or so later, and as well as the earthquake being marked with an orange pin, there were orange dots appearing around it, representing reports being sent it. GeoNet asks people to fill out a report recording their experience of the quake: how they felt it, did it cause any damage, and so on. Just before 8am, the NZ Quakes app looked like this:

Earthquake reports

Description: Map of New Zealand, orange pin in the sea in the South Taranaki Bight about halfway between New Plymouth and Nelson, orange dots all along the coastline and inland from New Plymouth down to Wellington in the North Island, and across the top of the South Island from Blenheim to Takaka.

One of those orange dots is the report I sent in via the GeoNet site: New Zealand Earthquake Report – Feb 3 2012 at 7:00 am (NZDT). It’s a great exercise in crowd sourcing information, and involving ordinary people in the collection of data for science. But as well as serving a scientific purpose, I think it also meets a social need, of sharing our experiences with each other, and of feeling that we are part of a community.

You can find the GeoNet site here:, and the section devoted to earthquakes here:


5 comments on “The earth moved for me

  1. Annanonymous says:

    Geonet is pretty rad. I felt a bit funny about the alarmist reporting of the quake, though – it seems disrespectful to Cantabs who’ve suffered serious shakes.

  2. tigtog says:

    It’s always nice when the earth heaving itself about leads to a fascinating excursion into innovative technology usage rather than anything else!

  3. Bel says:

    I slept through it :/

  4. Ariane says:

    Glad to hear it was a wobble. That is a pretty cool use of technology. I’ll have to tell Mr 6 about it, being totally obsessed with natural disasters and all. (Noting that this was not, fortunately, a disaster, and realising for the first time what a ludicrous umbrella term that is for earthquakes/tsunamis/cyclones/floods etc.)

  5. Stephanie says:

    Oddly I didn’t feel a thing!

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