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Human behavioral response in the Ridgecrest earthquakes: Assessing immediate actions based on data from “Did You Feel It?”

July 7, 2020

Human behavioral response to earthquake ground motion has long been a subject of multidisciplinary interest and research. In most versions of seismic intensity scales, human perceptions and behavior are one component of the assignment of intensity. Public health research has shown that actions taken during earthquakes have a significant impact on the incidence of injury or the maintenance of safety. Based on this research, emergency managers and organizations promoting emergency preparedness have advocated strategies such as drop, cover, and hold on (DCHO) and promoted this safety measure through public education and annual drills. The “Did You Feel It?” (DYFI) mapping system (see Data and Resources) based on an online questionnaire developed and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey has provided opportunities for those who have experienced an earthquake to report this experience worldwide since 2004. The DYFI questionnaire, although designed to assign intensity, also contains questions regarding the behavior in which one has engaged during the earthquake. The questionnaire includes other important information that may elucidate behavioral response to earthquakes, including assigned intensity, emotional reaction, and whether damage occurred at the location where the earthquake was experienced. The very large number of people who completed DYFI questionnaires following the July 2019 Ridgecrest, California, earthquakes provides a robust dataset for analysis and suggests that as intensity and levels of fear increase, behavior becomes more active in terms of physical movement to locations of presumed safety. Among active responses including DCHO, going to a doorway, and running outside, DCHO was the least likely to be implemented. The study provides possible explanations for low participation in DCHO despite active campaigns to promote this strategy.

Publication Year 2020
Title Human behavioral response in the Ridgecrest earthquakes: Assessing immediate actions based on data from “Did You Feel It?”
DOI 10.1785/0120200159
Authors James D. Goltz, Hyejeong Park, Vince Quitoriano, David J. Wald
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Index ID 70211037
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center