Sunday, July 1, 2012

Deadly but Beautiful

Question: When does an Earthquake become beautiful?

Answer: When someone turns the vast amount of Earthquake data available since 1898 into map.

Yet another example of Information being beautiful. Thanks go to John Nelson, manager of user experience and mapping at IDV Solution, a data visualisation company.

Earthquake Map
What I love about this map is that not only does it give a map of where the earthquakes have been and thus are most likely to occur, it clearly demonstrates key concepts underpinning theories, such as continential drift.

For instance, there are clearly areas where earthquakes are concentrated which are obviously the boundaries of Earth's tectonic plates which we know drive earthquakes, volcanoes and other related phenomena. What is particularly fascinating though, is the different activity along different plate boundaries. Not all boundaries are the same. Boundaries come in three forms being; convergentdivergent and transform.

The first two are quite intuitive and really what I find interesting about this map.

Convergent (coming together) and Divergent (spreading apart) form the basis of Continental Drift. That is as Divergent boundaries create sea floor through mid ocean ridges, the sea floor moves and pushes into another plate creating subduction at the point which become the convergent boundary.

If you can imagine the two, convergent boundaries rubbing together and divergent boundaries spreading apart, it is immediately apparent that boundaries rubbing together are going to creating more friction and thus earthquakes, which is why we see such striking areas lighting up on this map.

So not only is it pretty, it clearly highlights the fundamentals behind continental drift. A striking image and a win for Science Art. Perhaps even a great addition for those find the appearance of raw data boring and unintuitive.

Other deadly but beautiful data bellow.

Zombie concentrations

And yay for me for publishing a blog post for the first time in 16 months :D


  1. really?? is that the legend data for earthquake???
    cool...but it is really deadly.
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  2. Yes it is the true data for earth quakes. Quite remarkable isn't it.