Archive for February, 2011

New Zealand Earthquake Update

February 25th, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

Crumbled concrete, twisted metal and mounds of brick still lay scattered across Christchurch, New Zealand. About 250 buildings and 341 homes have been deemed unsafe by investigators. But amid the reports of devastation, the worse news is the rising death toll. According to the New Zealand Herald, the official number of deaths for the Christchurch earthquake has risen to 145, and more than 200 people remain missing.

Collapsed building after the earthquake

Today (Saturday, Feb 26 in New Zealand) there have been 16 earthquakes, ranging from 2.0 to 4.1 magnitude. And on Friday afternoon two violent aftershocks, measuring 4.4 and 3.3 sent more masonry crashing down, distressing the nerves of rescuers and survivors in Christchurch. On day 5 of the Christchurch quake, hope of finding more survivors in the rubble is fading.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that there were about 600 unreinforced masonry structures in Christchurch and that the majority of them suffered some damage during Tuesday’s quake. However, California has about 7,800 such buildings in high-seismic zones. A sizable quake on any of California’s known faults could cause major damage. Then there are all the unidentified faults in Southern California. The Christchurch quake occurred on a previously unidentified fault system.

New Zealand Earthquake

February 22nd, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

According to the USGS, the quake striking near Christchurch, New Zealand today was of magnitude 6.3. At a depth of 3.1 miles, the quake has already claimed 65 lives. And the city is still being hit by numerous aftershocks. This is a much shallower depth then the quake that struck the region in September. A 7.1 earthquake struck the city then.

New Zealand Earthquake

With residents already on edge, this quake has caused many to panic. The Christian Science Monitor reports collapsed buildings and major damage to downtown buildings including the Christchurch Cathedral. Christchurch is the country’s second largest city, where about 26,000 employees work full-time. The Daily Mail reported, “The quake was caused by the continuing collision between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates, said Professor Mark Quigley, of Canterbury University.” New Zealand records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year, but only about 150 are felt by residents. Fewer than ten a year do any damage.

Nine Deadly Facts About Tsunamis

February 18th, 2011 -- Posted in Natural Disasters, Tsunami | No Comments »

The devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami claimed over 200,000 lives. It struck without warning to the victims caught in the disaster zone.  But tsunamis actually give many warning signals to those monitoring the oceans.  Sadly, the Indian Ocean did not have such monitoring systems.

A Child in Front of the Rubble That Was Her Home

1. Earthquakes, eruptions, and other major disturbances (such as a meteor impact) beneath the sea can cause tsunamis.

2. Tsunamis travel across oceans and build into enormous walls of water as they approach coastal lands.

3. Tsunami wavelengths in the deep ocean travel about 500 miles per hour.

4. Tsunamis generally pass unnoticed on the ocean surface.

5. Sometimes, the first part of a tsunami is a “drawback” where the sea drastically recedes from the shore. This is a deadly warning to get to higher ground.

6. The first wave may not be the largest wave to come.

7. A large tsunami may trigger numerous waves arriving over a period of hours, with considerable time between wave crests.

8. Tsunamis as high as 100 feet crashed into the surrounding islands after the cataclysmic eruption of Krakatoa, Indonesia, killing 36,000 people. But according to National Geographic News, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami is the deadliest tsunami in history.

9. It is not possible to prevent a tsunami.