Project Description

April 16th, 2013

Mapping Earthquakes

Our team felt today’s devastating earthquake as far away as Dubai and we were compelled to learn more about the frequency and magnitude of such events.

This large earthquake is now being reported by media throughout the world, such as the Guardian in the UK.

After our data visualization of earthquakes two months ago following the North Korean nuclear missile test, we wanted to visualize the data again, this time focusing on larger quakes. We used this great tool from the US Geological Survey, which allows you to search their database for earthquakes corresponding to certain criteria. The data catalog streches an impressive 40 years back, to January 1973.

Thanks to the USGS search tool, we created this map, which shows the earthquakes that have taken place in the past year in the region around Dubai, where we have an office. In order not to over-crowd the map, it only shows very large events: the quakes with a magnitude of 5 or more.

With a reported 7.8, today’s earthquake is the most powerful to have struck the region in a long time. It is visible on the right hand side of the map, near the border between Iran and Pakistan. Click on a bubble to get more information about a given earthquake.


Below is another interactive map, this time showing every single earthquake having happened throughout the world in the past six months (since October 17th 2012) with a magnitude of 2 or more. Based on over 9,000 earthquakes, it is striking how clearly this heatmap shows the tectonic plates, the movement of which is responsible for earthquakes.


Here is the same data set, this time visualized as a cluster map. With this view of our data, we can quickly see the precise number of earthquakes that have happened in different locations around the world. Furthermore you can click on individual clusters to interrogate the data and display the full information regarding the earthquakes considered.


Finally, the same data set again, this time as a marker map. The exact location of every single quake is displayed on the map and the data remains clickable.


Feel free to explore these data visualizations and let us know what you think on Twitter (@Mapsdata).


To create your own data visualizations in a few minutes, straight from a spreadsheet, give Mapsdata a try:

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How we created this visualization:

After downloading the data from the US Geological Survey’s Global Earthquake Search tool, we simply saved the data in Excel and uploaded it to the Mapsdata platform. A full description of how we created a similar data visualization in the past is available here.

For more ideas of where to get data to visualize, click here. To learn about how to structure the data ahead of visualization, check this section, and to understand how to use the different types of maps available on Mapsdata, click here.