Visualizing disasters
Visualizing the world’s worst oil spills, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions using a variety of tools and approaches.

Bubble chart showing both magnitude and geo-location relationships
Oil spills
The assignment was to illustrate the World’s 15 largest oil spills from 1967–2010. My personal goal was to see all of the various methods possible to visualize this using a limited dataset: pie chart, tree map, bubble chart and timeline/bubble chart hybrid. After the initial four approaches, I started to calculate some additional quantantative data such as dollar amounts and distances to add more interest and humanize the scale of the previous exercise—looking for a narrative and context to create a more compelling story. (See PDF →)

Tree map and pie chart showing each spill’s relationship to the total

Bubble chart / timeline hybrid showing both magnitude and chronology

Barrel quantities translated into dollar amounts

Barrel quantities translated into distances

Size of oil spills in relation to the NYC metro area

Size of oil spills in relation to the School of Visual Art’s vicinity
Visualizing earthquakes
Visualizing the 20th century’s deadliest earthquakes, both in terms of earthquake location, magnitude and loss of life. Processing code was written to take a set of information detailing 244 earthquakes to plot latitude-longitude locations on a map of the world, create proportionally-sized circles indicating magnitude and draw vertical bars representing death tolls. The resulting output was cleaned up and designed in Illustrator, with two significant outliers labelled. Interestingly, a quick glance at the final chart reveals that earthquake intensity usually is not proportional to the death toll, as some earthquakes occur either in sparsely populated areas or countries with stricter building codes. (See PDF →)

World map comparing earthquake location/magnitude with total deaths

Raw PDF of earthquakes and deathtoll generated by Processing (see PDF →)
Japan’s natural disasters
Applying the same techniques as the previous exercise to a single country, additional categories of disaster data were plotted; in this case, 100 years of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Japan was chosen due to the high frequency of all three natural hazards that occur there. (See PDF →)

100 years of Japanese earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions
Crossed paths & close calls
This final visualization illustrating the natural disasters of the world, compares the time and location of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions since 1972 with my personal travels. This map shows where I’ve been in the world before or after a natural disaster (luckily never during). Processing code visualized my travel locations and frequencies from a spreadsheet written based on recollections of all of my destinations and converted named locations to a series of latitude-longitude coordinates. (See PDF →)

A cross-section of my travels and natural world disasters
Information Visualization
Spring 2011

Nicholas Felton