Flash sourcing, or rapid detection and characterization of earthquake effects through website traffic analysis

Rémy Bossu, Sébastien Gilles, Gilles Mazet-Roux, Fréderic Roussel, Laurent Frobert, Linus Kamb


This study presents the latest developments of an approach called ‘flash sourcing’, which provides information on the effects of an earthquake within minutes of its occurrence. Information is derived from an analysis of the website traffic surges of the European–Mediterranean Seismological Centre website after felt earthquakes. These surges are caused by eyewitnesses to a felt earthquake, who are the first who are informed of, and hence the first concerned by, an earthquake occurrence. Flash sourcing maps the felt area, and at least in some circumstances, the regions affected by severe damage or network disruption. We illustrate how the flash-sourced information improves and speeds up the delivery of public earthquake information, and beyond seismology, we consider what it can teach us about public responses when experiencing an earthquake. Future developments should improve the description of the earthquake effects and potentially contribute to the improvement of the efficiency of earthquake responses by filling the information gap after the occurrence of an earthquake.


Monitoring, Seismic risk, Algorithms and implementation, Methods, Public issues

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-5265
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X