Is there a good way to automatically generate focal mechanism (beach balls) for a shapefile with about 30.000 earthquakes and store them ideally in the attribute table.

It would be the best if I could use ArcGIS or QGIS.


It seems that there are some solution with ArcGIS as in ArcObjects VB Code for drawing 2D Earthquake Focal Mechanisms in ArcMap (but I don't use ArcGIS)

I don't know if there is a solution with QGIS, but you can use:


1) There is a special Python library ObsPy (Python framework for processing seismological data) and there are examples of what you want with Matplotlib and the Matplotlib Basemap Toolkit (20. Basemap Plot with Beachballs or Interactive Computing with IPython for GeoScientists)

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2) with Google Earth as in Easily create .kml file to plot focal mechanisms in Google Earth

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or R with the package (Seismic Focal Mechanisms in R


Maybe this Arcpy script tool can help. It draw 2D focal mechanism beach balls as Arcgis feature.

See http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_16436b7230102wci7.html for detail.

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For such a task in QGIS I would use a heatmap. Menu Raster > Heatmap.

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Picture above: 2315 earthquakes from 1950 to present.

Check this tutorial: http://www.qgistutorials.com/en/docs/creating_heatmaps.html

  • thanks for your quick response but I really need to display or at least have the pictures of the focal mechanism( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focal_mechanism ) – Basti Feb 12 '15 at 11:02
  • I have not seen this anywhere in QGIS. – Jakob Feb 12 '15 at 11:10

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