USGS gives virtual tour of the 1906 San Francisco quake

The United States Geological Survey is giving people a chance to relive the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake - without getting shook up or hurt. The agency is offering Google Earth compatible files that show how the rupture traveled and the severity of the ground tremors.

The KMZ files and Google Earth are available for free. Users will be able to animate the devastating earthquake in several ways. Perhaps the most interesting is what the USGS calls their 'Tour of the Rupture' which animates the fault line rupture from its starting point just west of San Francisco to northwestern California. The northern speed of the rupture was 8,300 miles per hour.

In order to view the animations, user must download and install Google Earth. Afterwards, people can click on the KMZ files on the USGS website and they will automatically animate inside Google Earth. Google Earth has a free and commercial version and some people may recognize the program from when the program was known as Keyhole.

Earthquakes are what the USGS specializes in and additional material is presented on why the San Francisco quake was devastating. The guided tour is part of a larger centennial commemoration of the 1906 quake.