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Geologists Say California May Be Next

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-can-find-yourself-after-the-quake dept.

Earth 258

Hugh Pickens writes "Newsweek reports that first there was a violent magnitude-8.8 event in Chile in 2010, then a horrifically destructive Pacific earthquake in New Zealand on February 22, and now the recent earthquake in Japan. Though there is still no hard scientific evidence to explain why, there is little doubt now that earthquakes do tend to occur in clusters: a significant event on one side of a major tectonic plate is often — not invariably, but often enough to be noticeable — followed some weeks or months later by another on the plate's far side. 'It is as though the earth becomes like a great brass bell, which when struck by an enormous hammer blow on one side sets to vibrating and ringing from all over. Now there have been catastrophic events at three corners of the Pacific Plate — one in the northwest, on Friday; one in the southwest, last month; one in the southeast, last year.' That leaves just one corner unaffected — the northeast. And the fault line in the northeast of the Pacific Plate is the San Andreas Fault. Although geologists believe a 9.0 quake is virtually impossible along the San Andreas, USGS studies put the probability of California being hit by a quake measuring 7.5 or more in the next 30 years at 46 percent, and the likelihood of a 6.7 quake, comparable in size to the temblors that rocked San Francisco in 1989 and Los Angeles in 1994, at 99 percent statewide."

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258 comments

Screw you ground. (4, Funny)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541324)

Where are our floating cities, we've been promised floating cities and flying cars. I want my god damned flying car!

Re:Screw you ground. (1)

zlogic (892404) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541406)

Underwater eathquakes cause tsunamis.

Re:Screw you ground. (2)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541426)

Seasickness right in your living room.

Re:Screw you ground. (3, Funny)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542022)

On the plus side, if a tsunami occurs, it results in an instant free upgrade of your regular car to a flying model.

Also your house will be upgraded to floating parts-of-a-house.

Re:Screw you ground. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35542260)

That sounds like the latest version of Gnome.

Re:Screw you ground. (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541438)

Tsunamis don't affect anything out at sea. In fact if your in deep waters, chances are you won't even notice it.

Re:Screw you ground. (1)

happylight (600739) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541452)

How would tsunamis affect a city floating in the air?

Re:Screw you ground. (2)

Dunega (901960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541534)

Depends on how high it is.

Re:Screw you ground. (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541490)

I want my god damned flying car!

Ok, here [google.com] it is.

Re:Screw you ground. (1)

dead_user (1989356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541742)

OK, I want a goddamned flying car that DOESN'T collapse during test flights, killing all on board. ;8^)

Need superconducting materials first ... (3, Funny)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541532)

Where are our floating cities, we've been promised floating cities and flying cars. I want my god damned flying car!

Research performed by Larry Niven suggests that we need at least two unrelated forms of superconducting material to have minimal redundancy in the power distribution subsystems, preferably four unrelated forms for quad redundancy.

well CA may be come a floating state after this go (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541828)

well CA may be come a floating state after this goes off.

A broken clock... (5, Insightful)

Computer_kid (996105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541340)

...is right twice a day! If you keep saying it enough, and it inevitably happens, then you can claim that you "predicted" it.

Re:A broken clock... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541466)

Yeah, taking into account that in Chile we have a big one every 25 years (1960 was 9.5, 1985 was 8.0 and 2010 was 8.8). So, I can predict with 80% certainty that there will be an earthquake > 7.5 in Chile in the next 30 years.

Re:A broken clock... (2)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541548)

I can predict with 100% certainty that you can't read the difference between Chile and California.

Also, lol at not understanding what the numbers actually mean and why they are useful. These earthquakes are caused by stress having been built up between tectonic plates, and the predictions give you an indication of how likely that stress is to be released at a certain magnitude. Your prediction of >7.5 with 80% likelihood the next 30 years is useless because it is an intentionally low-ball figure that doesn't give us any useful information abut the estimated stresses in the fault lines.

Re:A broken clock... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542050)

Your prediction of >7.5 with 80% likelihood the next 30 years is useless because it is an intentionally low-ball figure that doesn't give us any useful information abut the estimated stresses in the fault lines.

And yet predicting California is 'next' in line for a major quake is useless as well.
1) California is always 'on the brink' of another major quake, just like Alaska, Japan and even Chile.
2) Knowing that a major quake will happen 'some day in the somewhat near future' is worthless unless everyone in California is supposed to live each day as if it is the day of the big quake.
3) California has known about the potential earthquakes for a long time and have integrated the possibilities into their building codes and other public policies. All they need to do now is wait for someone to be right about which prediction is closest to the actual day of the anticipated event.

Re:A broken clock... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541846)

Geologists also say that tonight's going to be a good night, though they say the same thing every single time.

Re:A broken clock... (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542124)

By that logic, I guess we can tell the health inspectors to knock if off because all their predictions of food poisoning outbreaks are just a statistical probability.

Seriously, people like you that suggest that these predictions aren't useful because the time frame is so long are a part of the problem. Had the Japanese heeded the warnings about nuclear reactors of that variety in an area that's subject to earthquakes, they wouldn't have spent the last week or working to avoid a major catastrophe.

I'm sitting here in WA and we're still waiting for our mega quake, we know from the energy build up that it's going to be big, but we really don't know how big or when, but because of those predictions we've at least got our building code in order, so that hopefully we'll be in a much better position when the inevitable quake comes along.

Time to fire-up your laptop, then (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541358)

Your laptop can be used to detect earthquakes:
http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2008/03/quake_network [wired.com]

Join the Quake Catcher network
http://qcn.ucr.edu/ [ucr.edu]

Bert

Re:Time to fire-up your laptop, then (4, Funny)

isorox (205688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541478)

Your laptop can be used to detect earthquakes

Yes, if it falls off the table, it's probably an earthquake.

Re:Time to fire-up your laptop, then (1)

mortonda (5175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541614)

Your laptop can be used to detect earthquakes

Yes, if it falls off the table, it's probably an earthquake.

No, it's probably one of my children running by carelessly.

Re:Time to fire-up your laptop, then (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541752)

I wasn't talking about *causing* an 8.7 earthquake with a 2" thick Dell laptop.

Bert
You wouldn't believe it, but the scientists involved have a work-around for the occasional bump-problem.

Re:Time to fire-up your laptop, then (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542138)

Your laptop can be used to detect earthquakes...

Down in the Ozarks they had a weather device for sale that determined the weather. It was a rock hanging from string. If it was swaying, it was windy. If it was wet, it was raining. If it was gone, tornado.

9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (3, Interesting)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541360)

The link doesn't explain why the San Andreas fault can't have a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Can anybody please explain what makes this fault line so special or immune to such devastation? I'm of the belief anything is possible. Especially when I have my Snake Plissken eye patch ready for some over the top action sequences.

Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (3, Funny)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541400)

I've heard of you, I heard you were dead....

Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (5, Informative)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541444)

>>>The link doesn't explain why the San Andreas fault can't have a 9.0 magnitude earthquake

Quote: "Geologists believe a 9.0 quake is virtually impossible along the San Andreas, a network of "strike-slip" faults smaller and more fragmented, than the great chasm that exists where two continent-sized plates of the Earth's crust meet along the Japanese islands."

"This subduction zone beneath the Pacific, where one tectonic plate is thrust up over another, is capable of producing the biggest quakes on Earth, on an order of magnitude higher than any recorded in California."

Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541492)

Geologists believe a 9.0 quake is virtually impossible along the San Andreas, a network of "strike-slip" faults smaller and more fragmented than the great chasm that exists where two continent-sized plates of the Earth's crust meet along the Japanese islands.

This subduction zone beneath the Pacific, where one tectonic plate is thrust up over another, is capable of producing the biggest quakes on Earth, on an order of magnitude higher than any recorded in California.

Offshore quakes generated from subduction zones, also found along Alaska's Aleutian Islands chain, can produce tsunamis because of the tremendous volume of water they suddenly displace on the sea floor.

The horizontal ruptures of California's seismic faults, even those offshore, displace little or no water, and thus pose no tsunami threat, except in cases when they trigger underwater landslides. Even those tsunamis, however, are small compared with the ones caused by subduction quakes at sea.

From the linked article.

Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (5, Informative)

heehau (1036066) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541496)

The San Andreas fault is a strike-slip fault, which means that at its location two tectonic plates rub against each other. That's fairly benign compared to the amounts of energy accumulating at a subduction zone (like in Japan), where one plate has to dive under another.

Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (4, Interesting)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541520)

> That's fairly benign compared to the amounts of energy accumulating
> at a subduction zone (like in Japan)

...or in the Pacific Northwest? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cascade_Range_related_plate_tectonics-en.svg [wikipedia.org]

Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541768)

Yes. There's a subduction plate boundary there. Along that boundary there is a potential for a M8+ earthquake, perhaps approaching 9. But the frequency of occurrence is very low -- centuries between events. That doesn't mean it can't happen, of course. The last time was in 1700 [wikipedia.org] , and the effects of a similar earthquake would probably be on par with the recent one in Japan. Hmmm... maybe worse, because the infrastructure and emergency systems probably aren't as well prepared for such a large quake as Japan is.

Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542160)

Actually, we've been expecting a magnitude 8+ for the last 30 years, and probably more, I can recall the last 25 of those years. At this point it's likely approaching a 9. We've only had a magnitude 5.3 and a 6.8 in the last 15 years or so on top of the regular minor earthquakes. So, we are very much aware that we're due for one.

OTOH, our mayor McJackass seems more concerned with killing our tunnel than with replacing the viaduct that we've known will go down in an earthquake ever since the Loma Prieta quake did the same thing to 880.

Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541854)

A bit way north is quietly rumbling "Cascadia Subduction Zone" (similar to that one of Japan) that might produce massive quake of magnitude 9 or higher with tsunami of approximately 30 meters (100 ft), but that is more of a Canucks' problem.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia_subduction_zone [wikipedia.org]

Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (1)

hailstop (638166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542106)

A bit way north is quietly rumbling "Cascadia Subduction Zone" (similar to that one of Japan) that might produce massive quake of magnitude 9 or higher with tsunami of approximately 30 meters (100 ft), but that is more of a Canucks' problem. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia_subduction_zone [wikipedia.org]

If by 'Canucks' you're starting to include people in Washington, Oregon and northern California, then yes.

will we survive without walmart, fake weather etc? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541366)

yes.

A little difference (1)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541398)

At least the San Andreas fault line runs inland, so the likelihood of getting the double whammy like the one that hit Japan is fairly remote.

Yellowstone (2)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541416)

I would think the Yellowstone caldera is a more frightening prospect and more worth mentioning than the San Andreas. They both seem to me to be pretty much closely connected and one is likely to set off the other. But it never gets mentioned, probably because the prospect of the western half of the United States going through a Krakatoa-like event is rather harrowing and would drive people away from the Northwest (which for those people wouldn't be a bad idea).

Re:Yellowstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541462)

They both seem to me to be pretty much closely connected and one is likely to set off the other.

San Andreas produces a big quake about once a century. Yellowstone blows on geological time scales (the last was 640,000 years ago). Really, they aren't connected.

Re:Yellowstone (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541518)

>>>both seem to me to be pretty much closely connected

First Yellowstone is a VOLCANO not an earthquake. It doesn't have any connection to the Japanese or California tragedies. Second, it has been mentioned multiple times on cable channels like National Geographic, Discovery, and History.

Third, it only happens once every tens-of-thousands of years. Last time it happened, Mammoths were still the dominant species in america. (Man had not yet arrived.) Fourth it makes little sense to discuss an event that is predicted to happen circa 10,000 or 20,000 A.D. By that point human beings might have self-exterminated or developed forcefields to contain the blast.

And (babylon) Five..... if it did happen tomorrow, there's nothing you could do to prepare for it (like moving away). Yellowstone blowing-up would basically exterminate everyone in the US/Canada, unless you were lucky enough to live upwind of the event, like British Columbia, Yukon, or Alaska. Therefore no reason for government to "prepare" for something that cannot be escaped. Even if you lived in Europe, you can expect a "year without a summer" like happened when Krakatoa blew up & dimmed the sun.

Yellowstone Supervolcano is one of those events, like an asteroid strike, which really cannot be avoided, or prepared for. It has global impact.

Re:Yellowstone (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541692)

>>>both seem to me to be pretty much closely connected

First Yellowstone is a VOLCANO not an earthquake. It doesn't have any connection to the Japanese or California tragedies.

That sure is some nice selective quoting you've got there. Would be a shame if something were to happen to it... :P

both seem to me to be pretty much closely connected and one is likely to set off the other.

Now I'm not saying an earthquake is capable of setting off a volcano, but your apparent avoidance of why GP thinks of San Andreas and Yellowstone as "pretty much closely connected" makes me question your motivations for posting in the first place.

Re:Yellowstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541730)

Why so many accounts Commodore64Love? Why do you cower? You are totally pathetic.

Re:Yellowstone (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542150)

Why so many accounts Commodore64Love? Why do you cower? You are totally pathetic.

Hi Tim!

Re:Yellowstone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541916)

Commodore64Love, soon you will use 10 accounts on single article. Pathetic.

Re:Yellowstone (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541968)

First Yellowstone is a VOLCANO not an earthquake. It doesn't have any connection to the Japanese or California tragedies.

No connection except the earth, you mean, multi-account troll-boy.

Re:Yellowstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35542066)

First, it is not a VOLCANO. It is a SUPER-VOLCANO.
Third, it does not "happens once every tens-of-thousands". It is in the hundreds of thousands (roughly 650,000 years).
Fourth, if it doesn't make sense to discuss it, why discuss it? Because learning about both the past and the future have current applications, plus it it fun.
Fifth, you are incorrect. You can prepare for it. In fact, there are already people living in abandoned missile silos with sufficient food and air filtering to survive for about half a decade. Not many will choose to alter their way of life based on those probabilities, but some will. If they make it, their genetic patterns are the winner.

I've already proven mine superior to many by avoiding living directly on top of a faultline, directly on a low-level shoreline, next to major industrial facility, and by moving regularly and having a half-dozen children.

Re:Yellowstone (4, Insightful)

Dunega (901960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541536)

This week's scaremongering by the media is brought to you by earthquakes. They did volcanos about a year ago.

Re:Yellowstone (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542104)

And, if that dies down, there's always the ever-popular terrorism to scare the children.

Re:Yellowstone (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541878)

I was in New Mexico when the Loma Prieta quake hit south of San Francisco. I recall watching the quake on the news. I don't recall digging trenches through meters of ashfall, which I think I would remember. So maybe Yellowstone caldera and the San Andreas fault don't have a particularly tight coupling. In fact, I glanced at the large quakes for the US, and there's no dicernable connection [wikipedia.org] at all between large earthquakes in the two regions.

What about New Nadrid (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541418)

The New Madrid fault (along the Mississippi River) is about to pop. It has a history of extremely violent earthquakes. None of the structures built near it were designed with tremors in mind. Ill bet there are Nuke plants along it.

Re:What about New Nadrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541522)

From what I have heard, the real problem for the nuke plants in Japan was the tsunami, not the earthquake itself.

Re:What about New Nadrid (3, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541626)

And the nuclear plants will be fine. If you check, there were 4 power plants, each with multiple reactors, near the site of the Japanese 9.0 quake. All of those reactors shut down normally and survived the earthquake.

Only one of those sites is having any trouble -- and it is only because an 8m tall wall of water topped their tsunami protection wall (it was designed to stop a 6m tsunami). The water knocked out their connection to the power grid, flooded their backup generators AND the backup backup generators. It also damaged many of the electrically driven pumps. Fukushima Dai-ichi is a rare case where, due to an essentially unforeseeable event, a single cause destroyed the primary power connection, primary cooling pumps and all of the backup systems simultaneously.

You can be sure that once the situation in northern Japan is stabilized, changes will be made. Now that they know an 8m tsunami is possible they will upgrade all of the tsunami barriers over the next decade or two.

Re:What about New Nadrid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541686)

You can be sure that once the situation in northern Japan is stabilized, changes will be made. Now that they know an 8m tsunami is possible they will upgrade all of the tsunami barriers over the next decade or two.

Why can I be sure? This region has been hit by 10m tsunamis before.

Re:What about New Nadrid (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541702)

i have heard some speculation from people who know a lot more about nuke plants than i do that the facilities took more damage from the quake itself then is being told, cooling should have been restored by now if the problem was powering the pumps or even getting a new pump in place, they were saying pipes may have broken either directly from the shaking or from pressure surges, rendering parts of the cooling system unrecoverable without rebuilding.

Re:What about New Nadrid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541874)

The have been reports that batteries powered the pomps for 8 hours after the tsunamis. Then batteries ran out. If that's the case, then pumps did not suffer huge damage due to the tsunami.

Re:What about New Nadrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541804)

"Fukushima Dai-ichi is a rare case where, due to an essentially unforeseeable event..."

"Now that they know an 8m tsunami is possible they will upgrade all of the tsunami barriers over the next decade or two."

"Now that they know"?? "Unforeseeable"? Tsunami of similar magnitude of the recent event have occurred along that coastline before. The best-known but not the only event is the AD869 tsunami [wikipedia.org] . They aren't some hypothetical and surprising possibility. The people that built the plant apparently thought "6m aught to be enough" -- which is ridiculous given the scale of actual historical events here and the 50-year operational time for the plant. They prepared inadequately for the *known* hazards. Period. The only conceivable excuse would be that events this big are rare, but to say they are not known here is WRONG.

Re:What about New Nadrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541858)

Tsunami is a Japanese word. They knew it was possible. They knew they were vulnerable. They knew the cost of the wall in meters and made a judgement call based on Yen/meter^3. They will do the same thing again if allowed.

Re:What about New Nadrid (2)

blue trane (110704) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541938)

They should have put more of a debt burden on their grandchildren who would at least be around to pay it or see it forgiven.

Re:What about New Nadrid (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541954)

You can be sure that once the situation in northern Japan is stabilized, changes will be made. Now that they know an 8m tsunami is possible they will upgrade all of the tsunami barriers over the next decade or two.

Yes, they will plan for a 10m tsunami and get wiped out by a 12m tsunami caused by two simultaneous quakes or something. When will you accept that putting backup generators on-site is unacceptable?

Re:What about New Nadrid (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542030)

That's a terrible way to phrase it. Having backup power on sense makes a great deal of sense.

The key is making sure that there is a good response in place if those systems fail.

(and It seems making the backup generators submersion resistant is probably a good idea to explore, rather than ever higher walls)

Re:What about New Nadrid (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542114)

That's a terrible way to phrase it. Having backup power on sense makes a great deal of sense.

All [sic]ing aside, no, it makes no sense whatsoever. The backup generators are supposed to be the backup. If you are worried about Tsunamis which are overwhelmingly likely to take out the backups if they take out the primaries then you have to be a complete fucking idiot to put the backups right next to the primaries. When you are discussing an event like a Tsunami, in the same city is "right next to". If the backup systems are necessary to the maintenance of the system then they must be located at a distance which will preserve them from an event which damages the primary system. This is not rocket science, although I imagine rocket scientists have to follow the same principle. What good is a backup that will necessarily be wiped out by the same event that wipes out the primary? Any systems administrator should be able to comprehend this simple concept.

(and It seems making the backup generators submersion resistant is probably a good idea to explore, rather than ever higher walls)

The problem then is what happens if it's a more direct seismic event? You want them at a distance. You're going to need underground cables with a high level of redundancy in the case that one link is severed. The real failure here is for such a minuscule nation to not have a national power grid. It's pathetic enough that we don't have one here in the USA where we have multiples of the land area to consider. It makes me wonder if, like us, they have been earmarking funds for infrastructure projects and then spending them on executive bonuses. That is very much the story of the USA's power and communications infrastructure. I would be shocked and amazed if it was not the same story over there.

Re:What about New Nadrid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35542148)

It's ALWAYS something unforseeable or unusual that likely won't happen elsewhere. Yet elsewhere something ELSE completely unforeseeable and unsual happens. Saying "we're safe from tsunamis, nothing will happen" is like the TSA focusing on past terror attempts: always focusing on what already happened.

Chernobyl was a freak accident due to an old design, won't happen again. Three Mile Island was a freak accident, which won't happen again. Fukushima was a freak accident that won't happen again. So on and so on. There will always be a new kind of freak accident that catches operators by surprise.

Re:What about New Nadrid (1)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542216)

So they should build the reactors like a submarine -- spot a tsunami coming, close the hatches. When the waters subside sufficiently, you can open up exhaust ports and inlet ports and whatnot, so you can run the backup generators. Seems to me to be the obvious solution.

Re:What about New Nadrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35542228)

a tsunami on japanese coast was not unforeseeable. Remember where the tsunami word comes from !

What would happen in case of earthquake followed by tsunami at Diablo Canoyon or San Isidro ?
Are the refreshment systems protected from a big wave ?

Re:What about New Nadrid (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542218)

A interesting RFI for Pre-Packaged Commercial Meals mentioned the New Madrid Fault System
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=eaea338540a0aea155a48a650a077352&tab=core&_cview=0 [fbo.gov] (Jan 20, 2011)
"...FEMA request for Information is to identify sources of supply for meals in support of disaster relief efforts based on a catastrophic disaster event within the New Madrid Fault System for a survivor population of 7M...."
36 months of remaining shelf life upon delivery.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/11/20/us-earthquake-study-idUSTRE4AJ9EV20081120 [reuters.com] from 2008
would cause "the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States."
New Madrid Seismic Zone Catastrophic Earthquake Response Planning Project (Statistics for Eight-State Region on page 28)
https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/14810/Volume%20II_Part%201.pdf [illinois.edu]

Re:What about New Nadrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35542268)

I used to live in Tennessee, right next to the Mississippi, and I can tell you all from experience that there are no nuclear power plants anywhere near that region. The vast majority of people there are still pretty committed to burning nothing but the oil Great Bush II has bestowed upon us from those filthy infidels in the middle east (this is actually an honest opinion of someone in the region, though admittedly not a common one).

No need to worry about nuke plants blowing up, just a bunch of inbred rednecks no longer perpetuating their abhorrent genes on us anymore!

Investment (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541420)

Hello!

I am currently forming an investment group that is buying land around Carson City, NV and all along the Nevada and California border. With the next earthquake, our analysts expect California to drop into the Pacific making all of our land BEACHFRONT!

Yours,

Lex

Re:Investment (1)

Mspangler (770054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542070)

"buying land around Carson City, NV and all along the Nevada and California border. With the next earthquake, our analysts expect California to drop into the Pacific making all of our land BEACHFRONT!"

You might want to check out the location of the Walker Lane first. The future beach may not be where you think it will be. But in the long run you should have beaches on both sides of the rift, which would give you double the profit, minus anything lost at the bottom of the graben.

The short version is draw a line from the Gulf of California through Death Valley to Pyramid Lake. then draw a dotted line from there to Susanville, CA. Dotted because that is a "not sure WTF is happening here" zone. Then draw a line from Susanville due west to the Mendocino Fault zone.

Re:Investment (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542156)

Hello!

I am currently forming an investment group that is buying land around Carson City, NV and all along the Nevada and California border. With the next earthquake, our analysts expect California to drop into the Pacific making all of our land BEACHFRONT!

Yours,

Lex

If I help you out, will you give me my own city? I shall call it: San Fierro!

I think one's coming in the next year (1)

danbuter (2019760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541428)

The rest of the Rim has already had quakes (South America, New Zealand, and Japan). It makes sense for either Alaska or California to get the next hit. (BTW, I am a geologist, though not a seismologist or vulcanologist).

Re:I think one's coming in the next year (1)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541796)

How does it make sense? Where's the evidence? (BTW, I too am a geologist, though not a seismologist or vulcanologist).

Big earthquakes (4, Interesting)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541432)

Geologists also believed a 9.0 earthquake virtually impossible from the location where the Japanese earthquake happened: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/03/japan-earthquake-surpise/ [wired.com]

People have been predicting a big California earthquake for many years. Yes, it'll happen at some point but if you're really worried about it then don't live in California (or the Pacific Northwest).

Re:Big earthquakes (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541998)

People have been predicting a big California earthquake for many years. Yes, it'll happen at some point but if you're really worried about it then don't live in California (or the Pacific Northwest).

And/or be prepared and don't live in a structure which will come down on you, like the one I'm in now probably will. But we could be building with shipping containers etc structures that will not come down in essentially any earthquake.

Just in case you've been living under a rock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541442)

Newsweek reports that first there was a violent magnitude-8.8 event in Chile in 2010, then a horrifically destructive Pacific earthquake in New Zealand on February 22, and now the recent earthquake in Japan.

Thanks Newsweek!

Re:Just in case you've been living under a rock (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541482)

Hey now, time travelers need that stuff. Nothing like checking the newspaper machine for the paper and looking at the date and recent major disasters.

house cat flu (3, Funny)

greenfruitsalad (2008354) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541454)

does anybody else remember the house cat flu episode from simpsons? "We're here to come up with the next phony baloney crisis to put Americans back where they belong - in dark rooms, glued to their televisions, too terrified to skip the commercials."

Economist Article (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541456)

There was an article in the Economist on this issue this week. The potential for a really big Earthquake lies further north off the cost of Washington State and British Columbia.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/03/megaquakes

Re:Economist Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541504)

For those who want to put a name to this, it's called the Cascadia Fault. Look it up.

California? It figures... (1, Funny)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541468)

Some states will do anything to get out of paying their bills....

California? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541550)

And nothing of value was lost.

Re:California? (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541648)

Hollywood? ... Um, okay, you got that right.
JPL? Google?

Possible cause. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541572)

Fat people on rollerblades.

The Question (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541662)

Are we going to be treated to a live feed of the greatest disaster movie of all time? Come on, Big Media, it'll be worth it!

Not as hard as magnets (1)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541710)

"Though there is still no hard scientific evidence to explain why, there is little doubt now that earthquakes do tend to occur in clusters"

"Fucking plate tectonics, how do they work?"

Hint: It's moving in more then one direction at any given time. Think of them as slowly spinning instead of moving linearly (though they do move gradually westward due to the rotation of the earth too).

I hereby declare war... (1)

thatbloke83 (1529851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541732)

...against the San Andreas Fault Line!

We must destroy this threat to the stability of California with all available military power!

Cascadia Subduction Zone is the most likely (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541744)

I suspect that the next 'big one' is more likely to be offshore of Washington or Oregon, on the Cascadia Subduction Zone [wikipedia.org] . The San Andreas fault zone is a strike-slip type which is more commonly associated with quakes up to about 7. The Cascadia zone is a subduction type (between three plates, just to make it interesting) where one plate is riding up over another, that is associated with quakes up to 9 or even 10. This is the same type as the one off Japan. It has historically had a big quake about every 300 years off of Oregon - 41 times in the last 10,000 years. The last one, on January 26 1700 IIRC (that would be 350 years ago - it's overdue - it's gone from 200 to 600 years in the past), resulted in some areas dropping six feet, among other things. Historically the tsunami from these quakes have been very large - 10 and up. Some people predict 30 meters.

If it happens close to Seattle, one might expect Puget sound to act like a bathtub, with the water sloshing back and forth across the sound. That part of downtown that is built on rubble fill is likely to get washed out.

Re:Cascadia Subduction Zone is the most likely (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541836)

I think people in the area are likely not prepared at all. I lived in Vancouver BC (Canada) and while its not "on" the coast, any major earthquake in the northern US especially in that magnitude is sure to have many consequences.

Re:Cascadia Subduction Zone is the most likely (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541964)

"The last one, on January 26 1700 IIRC (that would be 350 years ago...."

New math, or did I REALLY sleep in this morning?

Re:Cascadia Subduction Zone is the most likely (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541994)

Haha! Oops... :)

Re:Cascadia Subduction Zone is the most likely (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542232)

To be honest, the possible tsunami here isn't worth worrying about. Puget sound is largely isolated so unless the earthquake is somewhere in the Salish sea, it's not going to directly affect us. And if it is in that body of water, the amount of time it takes to react will be a lot more than we've got. Even if folks start runnning for high ground immediately.

Ventaxian mythology (1)

SoVeryTired (967875) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541760)

Ardra's return is imminent! It's the only way to explain the quakes!

Goodbye, you lizard scum! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541762)

When LA falls in the fuckin' ocean and is flushed away, all there will be is Arizona Bay.

Blame it on the solar cycle (2, Interesting)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541784)

There have been FIVE magnitude 8.5 or greater mega-quakes since 2004. This seems odd since there have only been two dozen of these bad boys since the 1700s.

Hmmmm. We're just coming out of the deepest solar minimum in the last century or more. Wonder if other mega-quakes happened around solar minima? Yup. November 1755 (Lisbon), November 1833 (Sumatra), August 1868 (Arica Peru), November 1922 (Valenar Chile), March 1964 (Prince William Sound Alaska), February 1965 (Rat Islands Alaska). Could there be a link between the solar cycle and plate techtonics? Think interplanetary magnetic fields and remember that we're riding big plates that float on a molten spinning magnet.

Step 1: Get a list of reaaallly big quakes since the 1700s. 8.5+. The interplate kind, not the run-of-the-mill intraplate stuff. You can find a list here. [wikipedia.org] Or get a fuller list of historical quakes at usgs.gov.

Step 2: Get the monthly sunspot numbers since records were kept. The Royal Observatory of Belgium has a data set here. [sidc.oma.be]

Step 3: Note the correlation between mega quakes and low sunspot numbers. The median sunspot number is 47, the median sunspot number at the time of 8.5+ quakes is 23. (Same when you move the hurdle down to 8.3+ and include a lot more earthquakes) Make an x-y scatter plot in OpenOffice Calc or MS-Excel. Visually note how many occur within a few months of solar minimum.

Step 4: Recall that the next solar minimum is due in ten years.

Steps 5-9: ...

Step 10: Profit!

Re:Blame it on the solar cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35541888)

It's the black holes from CERN munching away at the earth's inner core, believe me ;-)

Re:Blame it on the solar cycle (4, Insightful)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542176)

IANA Geologist, but I doubt there's any reliable data on earthquakes from the 1700's. Human settlement was much less widespread at the time as well so many earthquakes may not have affected many people or anyone at all, thus there was no one around to tell the story, and there were no seismometers so any Richter scale estimates would probably be based on damage to human settlements, which could have been far from the epicenter.

Re:Blame it on the solar cycle (4, Informative)

__roo (86767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542194)

It's very likely that there were more than eight 8.5+ magnitude earthquakes before 1900. The Wikipedia you reference says "(est)" after those quakes because reliable global earthquake monitoring only started in the last century. Those eight quakes are famous and, deadly, and most importantly, directly affected (and killed) Europeans. The magnitudes were estimated from historical records.

There were certainly many more large earthquakes between 1700 and 1900, but they weren't recorded.

A little more info on large quakes (including references to the sources for the data on large earthquakes since 1900) here, if you're interested: USGS list of 8.5+ magnitude earthquakes since 1900 [usgs.gov]

Re:Blame it on the solar cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35542272)

You need a p-value. Only fools do stats by eyeball.

Pacific/San Juan de Fuca boundary? (2)

david.emery (127135) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541904)

When we lived in the Pacific Northwest, I paid attention to the predictions/analysis of the Pacific/San Juan de Fuca (SJF) plate boundary. The predictions there are for a really big earthquake associated with the boundary. As I recall (and I hope some geologist will correct me if I get it wrong), the San Andreas fault is a lateral slip fault, the plates slide against each other. But the SJF fault is a buckle(?) fault. Instead of sliding laterally, the pressure builds up as the plates collide by pushing into each other, like pushing the fingers of your hand against your palm, keeping your fingers straight. Eventually, your fingers slip and kinda "sproing," creating a Really Big earthquake. Historical evidence indicates this happens fairly frequently and when it does, the resulting quake and tsunami are doozies!

We have friends in both Seattle and Vancouver, I hope I'm wrong...

Re:Pacific/San Juan de Fuca boundary? (1)

sycomonkey (666153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541952)

Well it's going to happen eventually, even if it's not the "big one" this article is predicting, the fact is that the SJF subduction zone has an extremely violent earthquake, on average, every few hundred years. And there was a big one in 1700 [wikipedia.org] . The average is 500 years, so maybe we can get along until 2200 before the next one. Maybe not. But it will happen eventually.

Not until 2012 (0)

SolarStorm (991940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35541936)

Duh, I thought everyone figured this out once they released the movie!

Citation needed. (1)

hailstop (638166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542178)

The article asserts that major earthquakes cluster around the edges of plates, but doesn't give references. Yes, major earthquakes cluster in time, but this isn't suprising. Any set of rare events will see clustering in time. It'd be a surprise if it weren't. It doesn't need a cause. Second, the Christchurch earthquake wasn't anything exception as far as strength, and it wasn't even located on the subduction zone, but another unknown fault 100km inland. What made that earthquake exceptional was that it was very shallow and was directly under the city. It wasn't even that strong of an earthquake. The Nisqually quake in Washington state 10 years ago was 0.5 magintudes stronger, but was very deep, which is why it didn't do nearly the damage that it could have, considering it was of the same magnitude of the Loma Prieta quake. And to predict that the San Andreas is next isn't anything special either. The southern part of the San Andreas is well overdue for a large quake. It could happen tomorrow, but it wouldn't have anything to do with the Chille or Japan quakes. Third, what geologists are claiming that these quakes are connected anyway? The Newsweek doesn't quote any, and the journalist is not a seismologist.

predictions vs probability (1)

Drache Kubisuro (469932) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542204)

If you look at earthquakes over many years, it's random. Humans love to see clusters. Actors die in threes. Airplanes crash in threes. It's what we do. Will a major earthquake happen on the San Andreas? Yes. Can we say when? No. Be prepared, but don't fear monger based on tenuous "global patterns" that have not been vetted by any peer reviewed science. Notice the probabilities in this new item. That is not prediction. It works like the 100-year flood. We know it'll happen based on "reoccurrence" intervals (which for earthquakes are more tenuous than for floods) and can assign a probability. We can know that there are a lot of stress on faults and know that a fault has not slipped in a very long time... but we can't know when the rocks will break.
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