Watch How The Virginia Earthquake Waves Ripple Across the US (Video)

earthquake image

Image via video screengrab

If there's one important point to take away from yesterday's east coast earthquake, it's a reminder that what happens in one part of the planet affects other parts of the planet hundreds, even thousands of miles away. This video uses data points in an animation that lets you see just how far, and fast, the waves from the quake rippled across the country. Read on to watch. Discover Magazine writes, "What you're seeing here are vertical displacement measurements from an array of detectors that are part of the USArray/EarthScope facility. These are very sensitive instruments; note the scale on the lower graph showing the motion is only about 40 microns top-to-bottom! That's less than the thickness of a human hair."

The red dots are the upward motion, the blue dots are the downward motion, and the saturation of the color represents the amplitude of the wave -- so you'll see that the waves on the data points get darker near the time of the quake, and settle down afterward.

Watching the ripples reminds us of the affect that an event can have far away from the source -- indeed, it reminds me of the map that shows the spread of trash and debris from the tsunami in Japan all the way across the Pacific.

japan tsunami flow image

This figure shows the probable pathways of the debris that entered the ocean on March 11, 2011, as estimated from historical trajectories of drifting buoys. View an animation. Credit: Nikolai Maximenko, International Pacific Research Center

The quake caused little damage up and down the east coast, and was more a surprise than anything dangerous, thank goodness. And while the news mainly revolves around the humor people are finding in the shake up, there are some interesting information items such as this visualization of the waves from the quake that are starting to appear.

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