Picture 43A medium-sized earthquake near San Jose sent social networks and real-time search aflutter this morning as micro-reports came in from up and down the Bay Area.

Google’s real-time search picked up tweets that were only 30 seconds stale. Meanwhile, Facebook’s search engine has started pulling in useful results, as more status updates have turned public since the privacy overhaul last month. Other real-time search engines like OneRiot featured media coverage from the Los Angeles Times atop their page.

The actual quake was a 4.1 on the Richter scale and was centered slightly east of Milpitas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. To the right is a Google Earth mark-up with U.S. Geological Survey data dotted over the San Francisco Bay Area. The red dot in the bottom right-hand corner is the one that triggered the tremors and tweets.

Coincidentally, the agency said it will incorporate tweets into its research in December. Paul Earle, a scientist for the Geological Survey, said the agency has developed a prototype that continuously gathers the tweets containing the word “earthquake” in multiple languages. After an earthquake is detected using seismometers, the tweets may get attached to the earthquake alert.

“For felt earthquakes in populated regions, Twitter reports often precede the USGS’s publicly-released, scientifically-verified earthquake alerts,” he said in a USGS interview. “By collecting these tweets, which are open for anyone to search and analyze, it is possible to obtain first-hand accounts, albeit short, of what people experienced during an earthquake.”

Here’s Facebook:

Picture 46
And here’s Google’s brand-new real-time search:Picture 45