The U.S. Geological Survey is tapping a vast new source of engineering seismology data through its "Did You Feel It?" (DYFI) program, which collects online citizen responses to earthquakes. To date, more than 750,000 responses have been compiled in the United States alone. The DYFI data make up in quantity what they may lack in scientific quality and offer the potential to resolve longstanding issues in earthquake ground-motion science. Such issues have been difficult to address due to the paucity of instrumental ground-motion data in regions of low seismicity. In particular, DYFI data provide strong evidence that earthquake stress drops, which control the strength of high-frequency ground shaking, are higher in the central and eastern United States (CEUS) than in California. Higher earthquake stress drops, coupled with lower attenuation of shaking with distance, result in stronger overall shaking over a wider area and thus more potential damage for CEUS earthquakes in comparison to those of equal magnitude in California - a fact also definitively captured with these new DYFI data and maps.
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"Did you feel it?" Intensity data: A surprisingly good measure of earthquake ground motion