PSN-L Email List Message

Subject: Dorothy Darby, the PSN Nerdess of Northridge
From: Edward Cranswick cranswick@........
Date: Mon, 01 May 2000 02:37:14 -0600

    Your comment, "Need I remind you of the role that Dorothy Darby played in
getting the PSN in Pasadena up and running or the results her actions had after
relaying critical life saving information by radio during the early hours of the
Northridge earthquake," jogged my memory of the PSN presentation that Dorothy,
her husband, Jerry, and you put together for the annual Seismological Society of
America meeting at Pasadena in April 1994 following the Northridge Earthquake of
17 January 1994. Below is the abstract of that presentation (largely written by
Ben Gardner, USGS Volunteer for Science, based on the material you all sent and
last-minute phone conversations with you all).



DARBY, D.,  DARBY, J., PSN, 841 Belvidere St., Pasadena, CA  91104, (818)
797-7509, ddarby@................. BBS (818) 797-0536; HAMMOND, S., PSN, 5847
Falon Way, San Jose, CA  95123, BBS (408) 226-0675 (Sponser: CRANSWICK, E.).

By word of mouth via HAM radio, the Public Seismic Network has reached hundreds
of people. In a crisis like the Northridge Earthquake, citizens need to play an
organized role in assistance and communications; this is a motivation behind HAM
radio networks. Linked to a PSN, HAM radio is a viable way of educating people
about earthquakes and, during a quake, of passing on vital, realtime
information. I learned of the PSN through amateur radio and contacted the
PSN/San Jose BBS. We had already built a Lehman-type seismometer and had a chart
recorder. We started operating a PSN BBS in Pasadena. I began a weekly net on
amateur radio, giving out weekly earthquake data from both regional and
world-wide events. PSN/Pasadena now has a user base of over 500. We are working
on interaction with schools; several science teachers use the BBS. When the
Northridge Earthquake struck, my role was to man the radio and take 'felt'
reports; my husband handled the chart recorder and measured the P&S waves to
calculate distances. My son, also a HAM, handled telephone calls. Within 5
minutes of taking those felt reports, we knew where the epicenter was. Those
reporting 'rolling motion' were farther away, and those reporting 'sharp jolts'
were closer. From experience of the 1991 Sierra Madre Earthquake, I knew that
those at the epicenter would not be reporting in right away; they would be busy
taking care of their own,  or checking for damage and gas leaks. When those at
the epicenter started reporting in, the reports turned to reports of fires and
help needed. We became an emergency hotline, logging hundreds of calls within 72
hours. Calls came in asking for damage reports where  relatives lived, for help
needed in fighting fires, for advice about gas leaks, etc. Even as immediate
needs were handled, we hoped to be of longterm use by putting information on the
BBS as we got it. It may be still unclear how the seismic data can be used for
research and to help us out. But the information helps the people listening. We
had news media monitoring that frequency, and we had all the Emergency Operating
Centers tuned into it. Police and fire agencies also monitor it. I may never
know how many it helped, but we received many grateful responses.

Darby, D., Darby, J., Hammond, S., 1994, The Public Seismic Network (PSN), Ham
radio, and the 17 January 1994 Northridge Earthquake: Program for Northridge
Abstracts, 89th Annual Meeting of the Seismological Society of America, 5-7
April 1994, Pasadena, California.


Steve Hammond wrote:

> Hi Ed, -- sorry, but I think we had some really excellent Nerdess's in
> the group in the early days. While Ben was correct, the original six
> (Bruce, Al, Pete, Jan, Dick, and myself) consisted largely of men
> escaping into the garage to hack on their seismographs… it would be
> incorrect to represent the PSN as being void of women involvement during
> the first few years of existence. Need I remind you of the role that
> Dorothy Darby played in getting the PSN in Pasadena up and running or
> the results her actions had after relaying critical life saving
> information by radio during the early hours of the Northridge
> earthquake. Also, remember that in 1992 Carol Taylor at Anderson
> Elementary in San Jose had her fifth grade class on-line daily to the
> BBS in San Jose as they studied seismology and plate tectonics. Carol
> spent many of her own hours getting prepared to tech that initial group
> of students.
> Regards, Steve Hammond PSN Aptos, California
> Taylor, Victor wrote:
> >
> > Go fishing, camping and trekking for your private time....Victoria
> >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: cranswick@........ [SMTP:cranswick@.........
> > > Sent: Friday, April 28, 2000 6:12 AM
> > > To:   haller@........
> > > Cc:   sbohlen@......... bpgetcetc@.......... psn-l@..............
> > > Subject:      Nerdess's in the PSN
> > >
> > > Kathy-
> > >     When I made that remark about the members of the Public Seismic
> > > Network (PSN; see, e.g., ) largely consisting of
> > > men escaping into the garage from their wives, children, and families
> > > (an observation originally made by my friend, Benjamin Gardner, a USGS
> > > Volunteer for Science who did alot of work with the PSN in the early
> > > 1990's), I was not being mindlessly sexist. Over the last decade, I have
> > > kept my eye out for the appearance of women in the international group
> > > of amateur and not-so-amateur seismologists which now numbers over 300
> > > members worldwide; but, unfortunately, most of them so far have been
> > > nerds, not nerdess's.
> > > -Edward

Edward Cranswick                Tel: 303-273-8609
US Geological Survey, MS 966    Fax: 303-273-8600
PO Box 25046, Federal Center    cranswick@........
Denver, CO 80225-0046  USA      E.M. Forster said, "Only connect".


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Larry Cochrane <cochrane@..............>