Saturday, February 27, 2010

Twitter Proves Itself Again, in Chilean Earthquake

Twitter has been a valuable tool in disaster and emergency situations in the past. A good example were the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. In the wake of the massive Chilean earthquake on Saturday, it is proving itself again.

As has been shown in recent disasters, Twitter is an important resource for news coming straight out of the disaster area. As well, other events are being posted to various feeds. Twitter is tracking the Tsunami warnings with the hashtag #Tsunami. Some of the latest posts, at the time of this writing, include information that the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has announced that President Barack Obama is on the way to the White House situation room.

In addition to the #tsunami hashtag, much information is being posted using the #Chile hashtag, as well.

An example of an important tweet for those in tsunami zones, a tweet just came in saying in light of the Hawaii tsunami warning, the Hawaii tsunami evacuation maps site has been flooded with traffic.
RT @cfnoble Hey if you're not *in* Hawaii, please don't look at the evac maps. You're jamming the servers, people! #tsunami pls RT
It's not to say, however, that all the tweets are good info. Some are spamming the feed, as well.

Other online references include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which is issuing regular updates. Updates include estimated arrival times for waves in numerous countries around the Pacific Rim. Click the pink box to see the latest update. It won't self refresh, however.

The latest update says the following are under tsunami warning:
A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR

CHILE / PERU / ECUADOR / COLOMBIA / ANTARCTICA / PANAMA / COSTA RICA / NICARAGUA / PITCAIRN / HONDURAS / EL SALVADOR / GUATEMALA / FR. POLYNESIA / MEXICO / COOK ISLANDS / KIRIBATI / KERMADEC IS / NIUE / NEW ZEALAND / TONGA / AMERICAN SAMOA / SAMOA / JARVIS IS. / WALLIS-FUTUNA / TOKELAU / FIJI / AUSTRALIA / HAWAII / PALMYRA IS. / TUVALU / VANUATU / HOWLAND-BAKER / NEW CALEDONIA / JOHNSTON IS. / SOLOMON IS. / NAURU / MARSHALL IS. / MIDWAY IS. / KOSRAE / PAPUA NEW GUINEA / POHNPEI / WAKE IS. / CHUUK / RUSSIA / MARCUS IS. / INDONESIA / N. MARIANAS / GUAM / YAP / BELAU / JAPAN / PHILIPPINES / CHINESE TAIPEI
The different levels of alert run Warning, Watch, Advisory.

The epicenter of the 8.8 earthquake in Chile was, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, (USGS), 56 miles northeast of the city of Concepcion at a depth of 22 miles at 3:34 AM (1:34 AM ET). The quake was so huge that nations around the Pacific have issued tsunami alerts or advisories. For example, as noted above, there is a Hawaii tsunami alert, and California has issued a tsunami advisory (the lowest level of alert). Asian, Australian and New Zealand shores will see waves within 24 hours of the earthquake, experts said.

Compared to the January 12th Haiti quake, the Chilean earthquake was 8.8 vs. 7.0. The Richter scale is base-10 logarithmic, though, so an earthquake that measures, for example, 5.0 on the scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times larger than one that measures 4.0. In terms of energy produced by the quake, Jessica Sigala, a geophysicist with the USGS told NBC that the quake released 500 times more energy than the than the one that hit Haiti.

The largest recorded earthquake of all time was the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960 (shown above). The magnitude of that quake was 9.5.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, referring to the Hawaii tsunami warning, said the state could face its largest waves since 1964. They could start as early as 11:19 AM (4:19 PM EST). The bulletin said, "Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property. All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face."
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