USGS Twitter Earthquake Dispatch

During the past several years, twitter has seen an incredible spike in usage, broadcasting a number of events that cross cultural, economic, racial, & political lines.  One of thee events where Twitter sees incredible spikes in traffic is during major earthquakes.  Noting this trend, the United States Geological Service (USGS) has created an account @USGSted (USGS Twitter Earthquake Dispatch).  Per the USGS website, USGSted:

“distributes alerts for earthquakes worldwide with magnitudes of 5.5 and above. We may modify this criteria in the future to tweet alerts for more earthquakes of potential interest. @USGSted earthquake tweets contain the magnitude, location, origin time, and a link to the USGS webpage with the most recent information about the event. In addition to the seismically derived parameters, the alerts also include the frequency of tweets in a region surrounding the event that contain the word “earthquake” or its equivalent in several languages. Our observations show these tweets often originate from people who have experienced the shaking effects of the earthquake. After some significant earthquakes, @USGSted will also tweet supplementary information about the event.”

This account has been discussed and “in the works” for many months, originally expected to be online in July.  But, the account was not up for several big earthquakes including the Oklahoma and Virginia earthquakes.  Finally, about 5 days ago, the following tweet was sent out from @USGSted:

USGSted Announces Launch

What does this mean for emergency managers, crisis mappers and social & traditional media?  It means that there is now another source of information that should help to raise awareness when an exception occurs.  As you can see on the right, the tweets will include:

  • Intensity (M5.5+ only)
    • Strong – M5.5+
    • Powerful – M6.0+
    • Stronger Event (time will tell on what USGS uses to describe these stronger events – likely M7.0+)
  • Location
  • Tweets Per Minute
  • Link to More Information

This will help to supplement what USGS posts currently on their PAGER risk assessment product.  If there is more intense shaking in populated areas, this shows up on PAGER.  It will be be interesting to see what correlation there may exist between PAGER and USGSted.  It will take another large earthquake in a major populated area to find out.  That’s not what we want to see, but it will eventually happen.

More information is available from USGS via


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