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Monday, March 31, 2014

Earthquake Expert Uses Twitter to Urge People to Be ‘Ready All the Time’

Video of Lucile Jones, a seismologist and senior science adviser to the Los Angeles mayor, talking about the importance of earthquake preparation.

As my colleague Adam Nagourney reported, the new mayor of Los Angeles and his top adviser on earthquake planning are hoping that the back-to-back earthquakes Friday night will create a sense of urgency to address concerns about the city’s lack of preparedness for a major earthquake.

Mayor Eric M. Garcetti and the seismologist Lucile M. Jones have been arguing that Los Angeles needs to do much more to minimize earthquake casualties. On Friday night, two weeks after a 4.4 earthquake, Twitter exploded with photos and posts describing the tremors and damage from the earthquake in La Habra, about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. The first, smaller earthquake was followed by a 5.1 jolt, the first time the area had been shaken by an earthquake in excess of 5.0 magnitude since 1997.

“When you have damage, it’s a lot easier to talk to people about what you need to do to avoid damage,” Ms. Jones said. “We absolutely know that there are buildings that will kill people when they collapse.”

For more than two decades, Ms. Jones, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey, has been one of the most well-known, highly regarded and visible experts in Southern California on earthquake preparation, often quoted in television and other news media reports.

After the earthquakes Friday night, she opened a Twitter account on Saturday to amplify her message, starting with a first post discussing aftershocks.

The actor William Shatner was among those who welcomed Ms. Jones to Twitter. By Monday, Ms. Jones had more than 4,000 followers.

Ms. Jones has been using Twitter to explain aftershocks, answer questions and remind people of the need to be prepared right now.

On Sunday, Ms. Jones was asked on Twitter to explain how the magnitude is felt at the surface.

In response, Ms. Jones explained that magnitude is the intensity.

For a tourist from Sweden looking for guidance on how to prepare for an earthquake for a coming trip to Los Angeles, she shared a link with preparedness advice.

And will there be bigger ones?

Ms. Jones replied:

A look at the more than 20 posts on Ms. Jones’s Twitter timeline.