Abstract

When an earthquake occurs, seismological organizations send notifications of its occurrence to emergency organizations. Most often, these notifications include only the origin time, location, and magnitude of the event. A common misconception is that all emergency coordinators can translate this information into potential impact. This assumption is especially misleading in eastern North America, where earthquake knowledge is generally low due to the decades (or more) that separate damaging events. In this paper, we present earthquake impact information that makes these earthquake notifications more useful and less subject to erroneous interpretation. An additional recommendation is to present information on a map. Emergency managers should also be made aware that damage information can be derived from automated Web-based intensity questionnaires. It is suggested that regular contacts be maintained between seismologists and users of the information, possibly via the signing of a memorandum of understanding or some contract. All these suggestions can be implemented with little additional cost and could prove very useful in earthquake emergencies.

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