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CWU Geology Alumna Helps Craft Lifesaving Earthquake Emoji

The emoji for volcanic eruptions has been getting a lot of exposure on Twitter and other social media in recent months, with Volcán de Fuego’s deadly blast in Guatemala and Kilauea’s continuing rampage on Hawaii’s Big Island. Other natural disasters, like tornadoes, cyclones and tsunamis also have emojis that communicate their essence at a glance.

“We need an emoji so we can communicate quickly with much larger groups of people,” said Sara McBride, of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). “People can process pictures faster than words, and not everybody is fluent in English.”

A native of Washington’s Tri-Cities area and a graduate of Central Washington University, McBride is helping the USGS design the ShakeAlert earthquake early-warning system. An emoji could be invaluable in crafting short, easy-to-understand alerts that arrive minutes to seconds before strong ground shaking begins, she said.

Read more of this story in the Seattle Times.

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