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GIS in Geoscience: Identifying Populated Areas of High Concern for Earthquake Occurrences

By Justin Sorensen

GIS (Geospatial Information Systems) are utilized by many fields and industries throughout the world. To highlight some of these fields, our Map Monday releases for the 2018 Fall Semester will provide examples of ways GIS can be employed within the work performed by such professionals.

For this map release, we will look at an example of GIS in Geoscience.

Identifying Populated Areas of High Concern for Earthquake Occurrences

Geoscience can be defined as the study of the Earth including its oceans, terrains, and physical features; however, it also involves the study of human interaction by incorporating biological, chemical, and physical science applications. One area a geoscience professional might employ GIS technology is the study of past Earthquake occurrences to identify areas of high concern for current populations.

To demonstrate this process, this map identifies the location of Earthquake occurrences dating from 1850 – 2016 throughout Utah. A Kernel Density Analysis is performed to generate a heat map, visualizing the density of occurrences and where Earthquakes are more often to occur. Finally, a Dot-Density Analysis is performed on municipal populations throughout the states, allowing both high Earthquake and population dense areas to be visualized and compared for determining where concerns are the highest.

When developing an example such as this, several geospatial processes are employed to depict the features being visualized within the map. These geospatial processes include:

  • Kernel Density Analysis: a tool which calculates magnitude (hot spots) from features to generate a smooth tapered surface.
  • Dot-Density Analysis: a tool which generates quantitative values for a field based on the value of each location.

Interested in additional examples of GIS in Geoscience? Check out these past Map Monday releases:

About Map Monday from GIS Services:

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will release bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics, demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into research and projects you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects, or to learn more about the geospatial services offered through the J. Willard Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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