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SDSU Helped Baja California Authorities Gauge Tsunami Response

Audio

Aired 3/14/11

A quilt of images and information knitted together by San Diego State University geologists helped Baja California authorities prepare for the tsunami generated by the earthquake in Japan.

A quilt of images and information knitted together by San Diego State University geologists helped Baja California authorities prepare for the tsunami generated by the earthquake in Japan.

Dr. Eric Frost, director of San Diego State University's Immersive Visualization Center, explains how visualizations and maps are created using images and data during a crisis, March 14, 2011.
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Above: Dr. Eric Frost, director of San Diego State University's Immersive Visualization Center, explains how visualizations and maps are created using images and data during a crisis, March 14, 2011.

Erik Frost is the geologist who runs San Diego State University's Viz Lab.

Frost said about two minutes after the quake hit, he and his colleagues rushed to load images of the disaster. The lab's walls are filled with flat-screen TVs. He said they shared these with Baja California authorities.

"They can actually look at the fact of what the damage is, the size of it and they can convey the sense of importance. And they can see when the wave is coming and they can say, 'here is the danger, there is no danger there'; when it has passed, so they can actually make valid decisions," said Frost.

Emergency authorities in Baja California are not geologists. In that sense, Frost and his team are like curators. They use their expertise to select the most reliable sources to help make sure Baja gets solid information.

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