Abstract

In the minutes to hours after a major earthquake, such as the recent 2018 Mw 7.1 Anchorage event, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) produces a suite of interconnected earthquake products that provides diverse information ranging from basic earthquake source parameters to loss estimates. The 2018 Anchorage earthquake is the first major domestic earthquake to occur since several new USGS products have been developed, thus providing an opportunity to discuss the newly expanded USGS earthquake product suite, its timeliness, performance, and reception. Overall, the products were relatively timely, accurate, well received, and widely used, including by the media, who used information and visualizations from many products to frame their early reporting. One downside of the codependence of multiple products is that reasonable updates to upstream products (e.g., magnitude and source characterization) can result in significant changes to downstream products; this was the case for the Anchorage earthquake. However, the coverage of strong‐motion stations and felt reports was so dense that the ShakeMap and downstream products were relatively insensitive to changes in magnitude or fault‐plane orientation once the ground‐motion data were available. Shaking and loss indicators initially fluctuated in the first hour or two after the earthquake, but they stabilized quickly. To understand how the products are being used and how effectively they are being communicated, we analyze the media coverage of USGS earthquake products. Most references to USGS products occurred within the first 48 hr after the event. The lack of coverage after 48 hr could indicate that longer‐term products addressing what actions the USGS is taking or what early reconnaissance has revealed might be useful for those people wanting additional information about the earthquake.

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