The Truth is Out There: Probability of Upcoming Earthquake in New York City – First Look at Data

Recently, it has been two years since August 23rd, 2011 – when a relatively strong earthquake shook New York City and surrounding boroughs. Shock was strong enough to hit major media outlets. Of course it’s nothing compared to what other regions of the world and US are getting much more often, but fellow New Yorkers were shaken – I remember rushing down the stairs of my house – I was on vacation that week. Many wondered at the time if there were any signs that an earthquake was approaching. In this day and age – data is all the rage, so in case if someone attempts a forecast, it should be based on seismic recordings, many of which are now available on the net.

So, continuing the rubric of real-world data exploration (as opposed to synthetic datasets contrived to hone analytical skills and conduct interviews), this time I’m ‘diving’ into seismic data analysis. It won’t be overly detailed, as I’m not a seismologist, but it should awaken your interest in the topic and, hopefully, motivate to go out there, ‘grab’ the data (sounds easier than it actually is) and mine it. Share with me whatever you find as well.

As for my sources, I used this:

Region 34, code 472 (New York) is narrow enough to return enough data points.

First look? Well, let’ just say August 2011-th earthquake wasn’t the first one as far as magnitude is concerned. It seems we’ve had comparable earthquakes back in April 20th, 2002 and (magnitude 5.3, depth 11 km) and August 4th, 2004 (magnitude 3.8, depth 4 km).

What is more curious is that, when I look at the count of events as registered by the seismic networks monitoring New York, the past 3 years seem to be abnormally low with the respect to the previous five years. Looking at time series plot of magnitude of earthquake registered in New York region, is seems there has been some considerable ‘slowing down’ in terms of activity.

What could that mean? Well, perhaps fellow New Yorkers are due for another earthquake soon… Or, maybe, there is a lag in data collection?



New York Region_ seismic events by year


New York Region_ maximal magnitude of seismic events by date









Attached is an ASCII tab-delimited format ready for import into Excel as a relational table.

New York Region_ earthquake data_ ASCII.txt



~ by Monsi.Terdex on September 8, 2013.

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