Here Is a 3D-Printed Earthquake

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When Doug McCune was shaken awake by the Napa earthquake last month, he did what any reasonable person would do in the middle of the night: He downloaded a whole bunch of earthquake data. A few more days of tinkering, and he had created this 3D-printed visualization of the quake.

If you've ever looked at earthquake data, you've probably seen the Shakemaps from the USGS. The maps are utilitarian and inelegant; the epicenter itself becomes a blur of lines. McCune took that same data—peak ground velocity, which is best correlated with earthquake damage—and created a 3D visualization of the Napa quake. The peaks are clearly defined around Napa, smoothing out where the shaking was less intense.


McCune, whose day job is at a startup that makes mapping software, printed the nine tiles that make up his quake map with his Afinia Series H printer. Over at his blog, he's experimented with 3D visualization of other natural disasters, including Oklahoma's tornados. And he's also interested in 3D printing other infamous San Francisco earthquakes of yore, 1989 and 1906. Now you just have to wonder what the Big One will look like in 3D. [Doug McCune via]


Images courtesy of Doug McCune