Ring of Fire – Animated Map of World Earthquakes (Jan 1 – Mar 12, 2011 GMT)

By Chris McDowall 13/03/2011 12


This video was made very quickly and could use some work. I post it here in case you find it interesting. I suggest you watch it full-screen, in high definition with scaling off.

The animation depicts two and half months of 2011 USGS earthquake data. Blue circles represent deep seismic activity recordings (>= 40km deep). Red circles represent shallow seismic events (<40km deep). Each event leaves behind a red dot to show the overall pattern. The animation ends the day after the 8.9 quake that hit Japan on March 11 and includes the shallow 6.3 Christchurch quake.

I am keen to spend some time improving this animation. Perhaps I will find some time in the coming weeks. I intend to release the programming code as an open source project – I would love to see the community build on this stuff.


12 Responses to “Ring of Fire – Animated Map of World Earthquakes (Jan 1 – Mar 12, 2011 GMT)”

  • I’ve noticed you’ve included seismic activity hitting areas outside the dreaded ‘ring of fire’ region. Are we seeing a new threat to other countries with an ‘unknown’ history of earthquakes?

  • Interesting video…..thanks……can’t for the life of me figure out why a country with so many earthquakes is having nuclear power….we really do live in dangerous times.

  • Thanks Chris,
    Absolutely brilliant for primary classes to see the ‘ring of fire’ in action. (instead of just reading about it)

  • Uh-oh. Looks like Alaska and the costline southwardss to California are light on the quakes. Time to line up a duffle bag with dried food and water. No kidding.

    And the other quakes shown. If the person in question did a search engine on “plate tectonics” they’ll see those points are along other plates that shift around.

    We’ve not seen the end of this unsettling phenomena yet.

  • Maybe you could add some persistence scaled by the size of the quake? They tend to pop up an then disappear, it would be easier to track them if they remained for a few seconds. Maybe start with a higher opacity and fade it out? Have more fps and divide the days up?

  • @aidan I totally agree. Consider this a rough draft. There are a lot of things that I would like to do. Your suggestions are excellent.

  • I am curious…I notice that Chch hasn’t had any aftershocks for the past 18 hours. Is this a normal pattern in earthquake behaviour (is the ring of fire calming down?) or is it just the “eye of the storm”?

  • Mr. McDowall — Very interesting concept. Headed in right
    direction. Idea: Color code continents, deepen, clarify, and
    contrast colors, make colors rep. different things, overlap
    “world ring of fire” with “world ring of tectonic plates.”
    Splice in chronology of volcanoes, and color code again
    depth and magma of each of them. Then you will have
    comething. Good luck!! Research scientist:
    atomic physics and medicine. Hannacobra1TS@yahoo.com
    Activity is increasing. 5:00 am 4-10-2011

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