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Virginia quake resulted in 5,500 tweets per second, map shows spread

virginia-earthquake-5.9Every time a major event happens in the world these days, it’s only a matter of seconds before Twitter starts fizzing as people jump online to start spreading the news and sharing experiences.

It happened just yesterday when Steve Jobs announced he was stepping down as CEO of Apple. And it happened again on Tuesday when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Mineral, Va., about 100 miles southwest of Washington, DC.

It may not have been the strongest recorded quake to hit the East Coast (there was a magnitude-7.3 shaker in Charleston, S.C. in 1886, according to the US Geological Survey), but by all accounts, Tuesday’s tremor was still enough to cause clammy hands and racing pulses for those living as far away as New England.

And when it struck, mass tweeting quickly followed. According to Twitter, within a minute of the shaking, there were more than 40,000 quake-related tweets.

“We hit about 5,500 Tweets per second (TPS). For context, this TPS is more than Osama Bin Laden’s death & on par w/ the Japanese quake,” the social networking site said in a tweet of its own.

A guy called Eric Fischer has taken the time to produce an animated map (see below) of the quake-related tweets, which he posted on photo-sharing website Flickr. The 28-second video clearly shows the increase in Twitter activity, even though it only shows tweets with geotags.

Key: Green dots are tweets about the quake. Gray dots are tweets about other topics. Each frame is one second (total of 12 minutes).