Archive for the ‘Earthquakes & Tsunamis’ Category

Charity Bowl ’08: represent, USC & ND!

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Every Day Should Be Saturday is running a contest that gives all you college sports fans an opportunity to help the victims of the recent spate of disasters — the Burma cyclone, the China earthquake, the Midwest tornadoes — while simultaneously showing your team pride. Here’s how it works:

1) Make a donation online to the American Red Cross, CARE, or the International Rescue Committee.

2) Email the donation confirmation to and state your team affiliation by 8pm EDT on Wednesday, May 14th.

3) Results will be displayed at Every Day Should Be Saturday and Fanblogs throughout the week, with the final results shown by Thursday, May 15th.

4) The winning school will have its colors displayed at EDSBS and logo/mascot shown on every page at Fanblogs.

Things are looking dismal in the current standings for both USC and Notre Dame. Neither school shows up in the Top 10, and in fact, if EDSBS is counting ND as part of the "Big East" for purposes of their conference standings, it appears that zero dollars have been donated by fans of either school. (The Pac-10 and Big East are tied for last place with $0.)

So, pony up, Irish and Trojan fans! We can’t let freakin’ Michigan — in first place with $1,000 — win this thing.

Devastating earthquake rocks China

Monday, May 12th, 2008

As if Cyclone Nargis — which some fear could kill a million people if disease sets in — and Saturday’s devastating tornadoes in the U.S. heartland (the latest in what is becoming a historically bad year for tornadoes) weren’t enough, now a 7.8 magnitude earthquake has struck central China, causing an official, initial death toll of 107, which is expected to ultimately go much, much higher. There are reports of 5,000 dead in a single county, and 900 students buried at a collapsed school.

UPDATE: Make that almost 9,000 dead:

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated a
hilly region of small cities and towns. The official Xinhua News Agency
said 8,533 people died in Sichuan province and more than 200 others were killed in three other provinces and the mega-city of Chongqing.

When an earthquake kills almost 9,000 people (probably more, in the end), and it’s only the second-worst calamity of the month (by far), you know it’s been a bad month.

Earthquake! Earthquake!

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Via Brian Neudorff, here’s a YouTube clip of an Evansville meteorologist live on the air during the earthquake this morning:

Heh. Cool.

He remains calm, but you can tell he was flustered by the quake from the way he just reads the numbers without in any way indicating what they mean: "We’re at 73 and 50, 68 and 44 here, 87 and 26." Huh? I also like how he keeps saying the word "here." Sort of like Wolf Blitzer, Wolf Blitzer, except with a better excuse. :) All in all, though, a pretty good job of keeping his cool.

Anyway, catching the earthquake live on camera reminds me of the time, freshman year at USC, when I was awakened around 3:00 AM by the Hector Mine Earthquake, whereupon I promptly jumped out of bed and called Hillary Clinton rushed over to my camcorder in hopes of getting it started while the room was still shaking. I didn’t quite succeed, but I did get footage of the lights flickering while I, looking rather wide-eyed, announced to the camera, "Earthquake! Earthquake!"

Hector Mine was a strong but distant quake; it had a magnitude of 7.1, but was centered out in the desert and caused little damage, none to speak of in the Los Angeles area. My scarier earthquake experience came two years later, with a much smaller tremor that was much nearer by: a magnitude 4.2 quake centered in Beverly Hills on September 9, 2001. (Yeah – far worse things were less than 48 hours away.) It was a Sunday afternoon, the second week of the semester, and I was all alone in the library (!), two floors below ground level. To be precise, I was in the stacks of Doheny Library — which, coincidentally enough, had just reopened after being earthquake-retrofitted — sitting near the far wall, with several long, tall rows of books between me and the exit. All of a sudden, everything, including the overhead lights and the bookstacks, started to shake.

Having taken a geology class about earthquakes the previous semester, I knew this was either a) a weak (or distant) earthquake, or b) the weaker P-waves of a strong earthquake, whose destructive S-waves would arrive shortly thereafter. When the shaking stopped (after maybe 15 seconds), I was momentarily paralyzed by indecision: should I make a dash for the door, in hopes of escaping before the S-waves arrive and potentially knock the bookstacks over, but putting myself in greater danger if the S-waves hit while I’m running directly past the stacks? Or should I wait it out and hope those weren’t just P-waves (and/or that the building’s earthquake retrofit was really good)? I chose the latter course, and after a couple of minutes, I concluded correctly that there would be no more shaking. I then promptly got the hell out of there. Being alone in an underground room surrounded by heavy objects during an earthquake is creepy.

I’m pretty sure I never studied in the Doheny stacks again.

P.S. I also sorta kinda experienced the 1988 Saguenay earthquake. I was seven years old, bounding around the house — as was my wont at seven years old — on a Friday evening (~6:46 PM), while my mom was sitting on a chair in the living room. (My dad was, I think, at work. It was the day after Thanksgiving, but that had been a presidential election year, so he would have been super busy working on the Statement of Vote.) We were dog-sitting for my aunt and uncle’s old dog, Rusty, at the time, which is significant because Rusty was sleeping under or behind the chair that my mom was sitting on. Suddenly my mom felt a slight but distinct shaking. At first, she figured that Rusty must be shaking the chair somehow, but then she looked and saw that he was sound asleep. (So much for animals anticipating earthquakes!) A minute or two later, one of our neighbors knocked on the door to ask if we’d felt it, too. It was then that my mom realized it was probably an earthquake. 

Alas, the reason I say "my mom felt" and "my mom realized" is because I didn’t feel a darn thing. I was so busy bounding around the house, making a ground-shaking ruckus in my own right by being a rambunctious seven-year-old boy, that I didn’t even notice the slight shaking from the earthquake. Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed when I realized that I’d missed the earthquake. Harumph.

Fear! Fire! Foes! Awake! 5.2 earthquake rattles Midwest, felt in Tennessee

Friday, April 18th, 2008

A 5.2-magnitude earthquake centered near the southern Illinois-Indiana border rattled several states this morning, including Tennessee. Becky and I didn’t feel anything; the quake happened at 5:37 AM EST, when we were still asleep, and it didn’t rouse us. But some East Tennesseeans were awakened by the distant tremor.

Here’s a map showing the epicenter, and another map showing where people have reported feeling the quake, and how strongly (close-up here):

If you’re a Californian wondering how on earth something a puny as a 5.2 quake (or "temblor," as you guys say out there) could be felt so strongly, and in places as far afield as Chicago and Knoxville, it’s because, as explained here, "seismic waves in the East travel farther and pack more destructive
punches." The exact reason for this phenomenon is a topic of much debate among scientists, but "one explanation is that eastern geology is older and simpler,
with fewer faults in the ground to slow the travel of quake waves." See also here:

Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western
U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake
can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake
on the west coast.

That point is graphically illustrated here.

Of course, this morning’s mini-quake is nothing compared to the Big One that will someday destroy Memphis and cause massive devastation all across the region.

P.S. Brian Neudorff has more, and some history.

P.P.S. Ann Althouse felt it. (Hat tip: InstaPundit, who didn’t.)

CNN Breaking News

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Two powerful earthquakes reported in Indonesia with preliminary magnitudes of 7.8 and 8.0. Tsunami alert issued.

UPDATE: There was only one earthquake, according to the USGS, and it had an initial estimated magnitude of 7.9. Details here. This is the second time in the last month that a CNN Breaking News alert has said there were multiple major earthquakes, when in fact there was just one big quake plus aftershocks.

Anyway, an "Indian Ocean-wide tsunami watch" has been issued. "SEA LEVEL READINGS INDICATE A TSUNAMI WAS GENERATED. IT MAY ALREADY HAVE BEEN DESTRUCTIVE ALONG SOME COASTS." It’s pretty much impossible to assess the strength of an active tsunami in the Indian Ocean, though, due to the lack of a comprehensive sensor network. The fact that "a tsunami was generated" could mean some people are in for a world of hurt, or it could mean there’ll be a barely noticeable increase in sea level and then things will return to normal. We’ll just have to wait and see, and hope and pray it’s the latter. Further tsunami bulletins will be posted

It should be noted that a 7.9 quake on the moment magnitude scale would be, if my calculations are correct, approximately 125 times less powerful than the 9.3 magnitude quake that caused the 2004 tsunami. It’s a logarithmic scale, y’see, and a steep one at that.

UPDATE 2: CNN is reporting that "[t]he earthquake has triggered a small tsunami."

UPDATE 3: Now the USGS is saying it was an 8.2 quake, which is three times stronger than a 7.9 and "only" 45 times less powerful than the 2004 quake.

However, the head of Indonesia’s meteorological agency says there have been no reports of tsunamis. "But we have not withdrawn the tsunami alert until we are certain that the danger has passed."

Tsunami photos found

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

The memory card from a Canadian couple’s digital camera, washed away in the tsunami, has been recovered. The photos are remarkable, compelling and horrifying. (Slideshow here.)

The couple died in the calamity.


Tuesday, January 25th, 2005

I’m not sure which is more disturbing: the awful, horrible, utterly distasteful tsunami song… or the fact that an elected official believes the FCC should fine people for things like this.

Alas, freedom of speech includes — it must include — freedom to be horribly offensive.

It just keeps getting worse

Wednesday, January 19th, 2005

The tsunami death toll is now up to 212,611.

P.S. Or maybe 226,566, depending on which count you believe.

Stylish Charity

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

Did you love the fashion at the Golden Globes? (I didn’t watch)
Are you desperate to own anything Ewan McGregor touched? (I admit nothing!)
Or perhaps a whiff of William Shatner’s shoes will make you faint (I’m not judging you- just laughing hysterically)

Stars are donating their designer duds for the tsunami relief… the list of items for sale include Terri Hatcher’s dress (of Desperate Housewives and raunchy NFL commerical fame) going for a whopping $5,000… to poor Charlize Theorn, whose dress has 0 bids.
I’d feel better about this if I didn’t know that the celebrities get these dresses for free.

This is just classic

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

Near the front door of Martin’s supermarket on Route 23:


Atlantic tsunami warning system planned

Friday, January 14th, 2005

This is very good news:

The United States will expand its tsunami warning system beyond the Pacific Ocean to include the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, the White House said Friday.

A few hours’ warning against a 100-foot-high tsunami wouldn’t prevent an unspeakable calamity on the U.S. East Coast, but it might mitigate the death toll somewhat, and given the relatively low cost, this effort is certainly worth it.

Satellite’s eye view

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

More incredible tsunami images here. (Hat tip: Andrew.)

UPDATE: More interesting stuff here. (Again, hat tip: Andrew.)

Scientists: earthquakes are good

Tuesday, January 11th, 2005

Or, Gaia, Part II. But this time with Real geologists, geochemists, geophysicists, biologists(hi Mike! – among the Quoted are two, a paleontologist & an astronomer, from the University of Washington :), etc.

OKOK so they don’t really say, nor imply, “Gaia” the Earth Mother; that was just to lure you Rationalists in, all girded up for Battle. :)

NYT Jan. 11 – emphases added: Deadly and Yet Necessary, Quakes Renew the Planet. (Hat Tip: Bob Lutts, CT Republican Force of Nature. :)

They approach the topic gingerly, wary of sounding callous, aware that the geology they admire has just caused a staggering loss of life. Even so, scientists argue that in the very long view, the global process behind great earthquakes is quite advantageous for life on earth – especially human life.

Powerful jolts like the one that sent killer waves racing across the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26 are inevitable side effects of the constant recycling of planetary crust, which produces a lush, habitable planet. Some experts refer to the regular blows – hundreds a day – as the planet’s heartbeat.

…”It’s hard to find something uplifting about 150,000 lives being lost,” said Dr. Donald J. DePaolo, a geochemist at the University of California, Berkeley. “But the type of geological process that caused the earthquake and the tsunami is an essential characteristic of the earth. As far as we know, it doesn’t occur on any other planetary body and has something very directly to do with the fact that the earth is a habitable planet.”


Incredible tsunami images

Monday, January 10th, 2005

Amazing, devastating before-and-after images from Indonesia here and here and here. (Hat tip: my mom.)

Click the images (or the button above them) to toggle between before and after. You can also click on the “NEXT” and “PREV” links to view more incredible images.

Read the whole thing

Saturday, January 8th, 2005

A harrowing, amazing first-hand account of the tsunami, here.