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I live in Cascadia, a section of the Pacific northwest stretching from Washington down to California along the Cascadia subduction zone.

That's the area where experts expect to see the big one in the next century.

A few weeks ago I went looking for a text or Twitter notification service from USGS for earthquakes in this area. What I found was that they didn't have any for only this particular region. They have plenty of earthquake alerts for larger areas though.

So I started poking around and found a number of real-time APIs for earthquakes. I thought it might be cool to build an alert for just Cascadia earthquakes.

To do this I looked at several maps of the Cascadia region online and made a rough geofence around the area to focus on. In other words, any earthquake with a lat/long within those coordinates will be sent as a notification.


  • Create working Twitter bot for Cascadia earthquakes (Bonus: SMS alerts)
  • Sign up for AWS, spin up my first EC2 (Bouns: Try out SNS for the first time)
  • Learn something new and make something useful

Local set up

brew install python3 # If not installed
mkvirtualenv cascadiaquakes --python=python3
(cascadiaquakes) pip install -e .

Create secrets.json file with your twitter credentials. To make a new Twitter app, go to You'll also need to set up an AWS SNS topic and get an arn.

    "twitter-example": {
        "consumer_key": "asdf",
        "consumer_secret": "asdf",
    "aws-arn": "arn:aws:sns:us-east-1:123456789012:asdf"


  • I'm not going to walk through all the steps to deploy to AWS, but I will say that I had to increase my default spend limit to more than $1 during testing because I was sending multiple texts a day. This article also came in handy.
  • At time of research, this page, labeled "API Documentation - Earthquake Catalog" says that the real-time GeoJSON feeds are the best for any automated applications. "...they will have the best performance and availability for that type of information."
  • Would be cool to write earthquakes into RDS but not going to do that right now...

Prelim plan

  1. Get geoJSON from USGS. More info.
  2. Test to see if there are any new events.
  3. Test to see if events are near CSZ. +/- 100 miles from coast from BC to CA? Might need to ask an expert about this.
  4. Send tweet/text alert? TEXT ALERTS WOULD BE COOL