Teach the Earth > Hazards > Visualizations > Earthquakes

Earthquake Visualizations

Compiled by Mark Francek ( This site may be offline. ) at Central Michigan University, John McDaris, and Monica Bruckner at SERC.

Find animations showing seismograph operation, tsunami, P and S Waves, earthquake focus versus epicenter, and actual footage of an earthquake.

Browse the complete set of Visualization Collections. If you have comments or additional resources to add to the page, use our Feedback box to let us know.

15 October 2006, Puako, HI, USA

Theoretical P-Wave Travel Times (more info) This page from the USGS displays the predicted travel times of the P-Waves originating from the 6.7 magnitude earthquake that struck near Puako, HI on October 15th, 2006. There is a table of data as well as the map visualization.

8 October 2005, Pakistan

Seismograms for 2005 October 8 (more info) This USGS page contains seismograms from more than 25 stations around the world that recorded the waves from the October 8, 2005 Pakistan earthquake.

28 February 2001, Seattle, WA, USA

Video Taken During an Earthquake (more info) This Flash movie by Exploring Earth places a human face on what it is like to actually experience an earthquake. Security cameras record what happens before, during, and after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake near Seattle, Washington. Time stamps in the lower left corner of each movie can be used to gauge quake duration.

27 March 1964, Prince William Sound, AK, USA

1964 Quake: The Great Alaska Earthquake This eleven minute video created by the USGS highlights the impacts and effects of America's largest recorded earthquake. The video was developed in 2014 as a part of the 50th anniversary of the quake that reshaped how geologists understood massive earthquakes in the context of plate tectonics.

General Earthquake Resources

Google Earth Science Seismic Zones (more info) This selection of Google Earth and SketchUp files illustrate and model seismic zones using block models and cross-sections. Regions include Japan, Seattle, the Rockies, San Francisco, Iceland, the New Madrid fault, and I-64 (east coast of US), among others. Right-click each image to download a KMZ file for viewing with Google Earth. To examine KMZ contents, unzip and open the KML source doc with your text editor.

Southern California ShakeOut (more info) These compelling earthquake simulations show ground movement and wave propagation as an earthquake rupture propagates along the San Andreas Fault. These simulations are from the Great Southern California ShakeOut earthquake drill conducted in 2008. The animations capture the shaking at length scales larger than about 300 ft (100 m) and provide detailed animations of the shaking for this scenario earthquake. Several different views are available. The files are QuickTime and are available in three different resolutions.

Seven Days ( This site may be offline. ) A movie from the Southern California Earthquake Center showing two approximately magnitude 5 earthquakes that occurred within seven days in Southern California. The second earthquake is on or near the San Andreas fault and led to concern of a much larger earthquake (that did not happen).

IRIS: Seismic Monitor (more info) This site, developed by the IRIS Consortium, provides an interactive display of global seismic activity over the last five years. The data is supplied by the USGS.

Focus of an Earthquake (more info) This simple Flash animation by McGraw-Hill shows the relationship between earthquake focus and earthquake epicenter which is found directly above the focus. Also displayed in the animation are the fault plane, fault scarp, and fault trace.

Formation of a Tsunami (more info) This Flash animation, by McGraw-Hill, illustrates the steps involved in producing a tsunami. First, motion along a submerged fault plane causes a column of water to rise directly above the epicenter. As the wave approaches the shore, it slows, wave height grows, and wave crests grow closer together. The heightened wave then reaches the shore and can extend far inland, destroying everything in its path. Tsunami-like waves can also be caused by underwater landslides. Be sure to check out our Tsunami Visualization Collection for more.

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