Abstract

The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology Earthquake Browser (IEB; see Data and Resources) is a web‐based tool that enables anyone to query an earthquake database composed of over five million events recorded over the past 50 yr. The IEB visitor can query on earthquake magnitude, depth, timing, and location and can visually display the results in 2D map view or as an interactive pseudo 3D view. The user can toggle features such as plate tectonic boundaries, terrain or satellite mapping, and zoom to place the results in a geologic or geopolitical context and add visual appeal. To better understand who visits the IEB and why, to include information on demographics and how users perceive the IEB functionality and ability to meet their needs, we conducted a pop‐up user survey on the IEB from 25 January to 21 February 2018. We received 495 useable responses from 58 countries, with 40% of the total respondents from the United States. The largest demographic consists of interested citizens who are 55 yr of age or older and have a high school education. We also find that visitors come to the IEB to learn about earthquakes for two main reasons: for their own personal knowledge or because expanding their knowledge is important to their research or work in a professional context. We also find a dramatic increase in survey respondent activity following the 16 February 2018 M 7.2 Oaxaca, Mexico, earthquake, with many respondents interested in finding more information about recent earthquake events that affect them or their family. Our observations indicate that users are successful and satisfied with the ease of use and amount of time spent on the IEB to find answers to their questions about earthquakes. The most beneficial feature of the IEB as identified by survey respondents is the spatiotemporal visual display of real earthquake data.

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