In this internship so far, I have been introduced to a wide variety of tools, but there is none I use so often as the Generic Mapping Tools. It's tricky maintaing a love-hate relationship with a computer program, but it's necessary when there is work to be done!
GMT, simply put, is a suite of programs used to generate maps. Given a light understanding of computer programming languages and constant access to the online GMT Cookbook, anything is possible. Here's a sample of some of the maps and plots I've created this past week alone:
The top graph is a map of the area around the Chimbote earthquake. The quake's rupture zone is shown in red, the blue lines are a very rough estimate of which events are downdip and associated with the earthquake, and the colored events are the ones that are chosen for processing. The middle graph is a distance-along-trench vs. time plot, which shows the focal mechanisms' orientations to a "straightened-out" trench, and the bottom plot is a cumulative count of events. The blue line represents the occurrence of the Chimbote event. The significance of these plots will be explored in a future update.
Okay, maybe these plots aren't the most complicated or impressive thing to be seen in these blogs, but they represent the culmination hours of completing tutorials, fiddling, tweaking and poking the program to see the display I want. I feel like whenever you learn a new skill, there's a tipping point. It's when you feel you're not working but instead you're playing! Manipulating the code and debugging the syntax isn't as much of a chore anymore.
As for the relation to my project, GMT gives the most freedom to customize your maps EXACTLY the way you want them! I used to complain about GMT's need for specificity, but it's a strength instead of a weakness. I came in with a preference for ArcGIS, but it's clear that when it comes to modeling seismic data and focal mechanisms, GMT is the way to go.
GMT also gives so much flexibility with automating the process. The series of graphs you see above represents the Chimbote megathrust earthquake, but with quick command in Unix I can generate the same graphs for any and all large earthquakes in South America! Knowing the power of Unix and Awk is important too, but the heavy lifting is done within GMT.
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