Share this:
06/23/2006 07:00:00

Media to Learn Newest Ways to Report on Earthquakes at Open House and Workshop

PASADENA, Calif.- The California Institute of Technology will unveil its newly renovated Earthquake Media Center to the news media at 9:30 a.m. June 29. This Open House event will include a free "Earthquakes 101" Workshop for the media where Caltech and U.S. Geological Survey scientists will discuss a wide range of topics to help new and veteran earthquake reporters cover the next major earthquake.

The event, which is for the news media only, will be in the Media Center of the Caltech Seismological Laboratory in the Seely G. Mudd Building of Geophysics and Planetary Science, second floor, room 269, at the northeast corner of Wilson Avenue and California Boulevard, Pasadena.

Upon entering the room, members of the media who have been there in the past will notice that the seismographic drums have disappeared.

"The drums represent outdated technology," said Jeroen Tromp, director of the Caltech Seismological Lab and McMillan Professor of Geophysics. "In fact, we have not used their data for decades. We had maintained them solely as a visual aid for the media.

"Seismological technology has vastly improved to the point that within less than an hour we can now create a 2-D animation of seismic waves radiating out from the epicenter on a topographical map. We call these animations 'ShakeMovies' and they will be one of the new offerings that the Caltech Seismo Lab is introducing to the media at this event," Tromp said.

The Media Center has a new nine-panel 10-by-6-foot video wall that can display any number of simultaneous images. It can display video, websites, PowerPoint presentations, and graphics. In place of the seismographic drums, the screens will display a variety of images after an earthquake including ShakeMovies, ShakeMaps, "Did You Feel It?" maps, and seismic waveforms (the traditional zigzag images we all recognize as the graphic representation of an earthquake) in real time.

The technology behind the screens was donated by Dell and a portion of the Open House will be devoted to thanking Dell for its generosity.

Speakers will discuss earthquake basics, the new Geosciences Computational Facility at Caltech, what will happen to L.A.'s tall buildings in a major quake, real-time Earth science, and how Caltech can provide the media with information and graphics immediately after a quake. The program is from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Presenters include Tromp; Lucy Jones, scientist in charge, USGS; Kate Hutton, staff seismologist, Caltech; Egill Hauksson, senior research associate in geophysics, Caltech; and Swaminathan Krishnan, postdoctoral scholar, geophysics, Caltech.

Attendees may conduct interviews with the speakers from noon to 1 p.m.

Tours of the Caltech Geosciences Computational Facility will be from noon to 1 p.m.

Attendees will receive an updated "Earthquake Coverage Survival Guide" with essential facts about earthquakes, websites, and expert contacts at Caltech and the USGS.

RSVP by June 26 by calling Deborah Williams-Hedges, Caltech Media Relations, at (626) 395-3227 or emailing her at or contacting Margaret Vinci, Caltech Office of Earthquake Programs, (626) 395-3298 or

Parking is available in the underground structure at 1200 E. California Boulevard across the street from the Seismological Lab. Free parking passes will be handed out at the structure until 10 a.m.

Plan to arrive 15 minutes early in order to register.


Contact: Jill Perry (626) 395-3226

Visit the Caltech Media Relations website at

Written by Jill Perry