Archive for the 'Earthquakes' Category

Earthquakes, Plate Tectonics, and the Richter Scale Infographic

July 23rd, 2014 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »
Earthquake Anatomy

Worst Geologic Disasters of 2012

January 29th, 2013 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Natural Disasters, Volcanoes | No Comments »

guest post by Rebecca Shields

On April 11, two consecutive earthquakes with magnitudes of 8.2 and 8.6 occurred off the west coast of northern Sumatra, where the Sunda plate meets the Indi/Australian plate. Many earthquakes happen at these ‘plate boundaries’ due to movement of the plates themselves. This specific plate boundary is in the same location of the record 9.1 earthquake from December 26, 2004 that caused multiple tsunamis, killing over 230,000 people. Tsunamis occur when an earthquake creates a shift in a huge amount of landmass under the ocean. When this large amount of land moves under the water, an upswelling occurs, creating the tsunami wave. A tsunami did result from the April earthquakes, but people living in the surrounding areas were prepared and no one was hurt. Unlike recent years, no tsunami was able to cause enough destruction to be considered a disaster!

Like earthquakes, most volcanoes are located near plate boundaries. The volcano that affected the most people in 2012 is Volcan de Fuego. It is located in Guatemala on the ‘Ring of Fire’. The Ring of Fire surrounds the Pacific Ocean and is made up of volcanoes. A few different plate boundaries come into play along the ring, but the result is the same: hundreds of volcanoes. When Volcan de Fuego erupted on September 13, 2012, the Guatemalan government called for the evacuation of almost 35,000 residents in 17 surrounding areas. Other significant eruptions of 2012 were the Plosky Tolbachik in Russia, Puyehue in Chile, and Etna in Italy.

Worst Geologic Disasters of 2012

Japan is a series of islands formed by volcanoes located on the Ring of Fire. Along with a healthy dose of volcanic activity, Japan experienced massive floods and landslides in 2012. In early July 2012, southern Japan experienced torrential rainfall exceeding 3.5in per hour, resulting in flash floods and at least 518 landslides across the country. Twenty-eight people were confirmed dead and over 250,000 people were ordered to evacuate. Landslides can be especially deadly due to the speed at which they can travel, sometimes up to 35 mph. They are made up of anything that gets in the way, creating an almost solid wall of debris. Landslides are oftentimes associated with floods because they are caused by the buildup of large amounts of water on a mountain slope or hillside.

All the geologic hazards discussed happen daily around the world. However, under the right conditions, they turn deadly very fast. It is always important to know what hazards are common in your area, and be prepared for all possibilities.

7.4 El Salvador Quake

August 26th, 2012 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

A 7.4 magnitude quake struck offshore of El Salvador tonight (Sunday).  The USGS reports the quake hit at 10:37 pm at the epicenter in the Pacific Ocean about 105 miles south of San Salvador, El Salvador, and 74 miles south of Usulutan, El Salvador.  The depth was recorded at 52.9 km (32.9 miles).

A tsunami warning is in effect for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama and Mexico.  A tsunami warning has not been issued for Hawaii.

El Salvador Quake Map (USGS Map)

Earthquakes in Fiction

June 22nd, 2012 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

My sense of awe for Mother Nature, my experiences living in earthquake country, and my aspiration to write thrilling stories all combine in the pages of my first novel.  Have you read a novel that features a natural disaster in the story?  You might want to give The Doctor’s Dilemma a try.  Set in a remote village in Mexico, the last thing the characters want to do is get involved in a romantic relationship.  They spend their time working hard in the pediatric clinic and trying to avoid each other.  When disaster strikes they soon realize they are equally committed to helping the community, and their close working relationship makes it impossible to ignore their attraction to one another.

The Doctor’s Dilemma is a finalist in the 2012 Booksellers’ Best Award. (A Published Author’s Contest for books published in 2011 sponsored by the Greater Detroit RWA) It finaled in two categories, Best Traditional Romance and Best First Book!  Winners will be determined in July 2012.  Cross your fingers.  Amazon currently has The Doctor’s Dilemma SALE priced!  Get your copy before they’re all gone.

Italy Earthquake brings Historic Buildings Crashing Down

May 20th, 2012 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Natural Disasters | No Comments »

A magnitude-6.0 quake struck in the middle of the night, about 35km (22 miles) north of the Italian city of Bologna. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the quake at a relatively shallow depth of 10km  (6.2 miles) just after 04:00 am local time (02:00 GMT). Later on Sunday, a magnitude 5.1 aftershock hit the region, causing more buildings to collapse.  The earthquake has killed at least seven and injured more than 50 people.

The epicenter of the quake, north of Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region, was felt across northern Italy, including the cities of Bologna, Modena, Ferrara, Rovigo, Verona and Mantua and as far away as Milan and Venice.  The earthquake and aftershocks reduced historic churches and castle towers to rubble and forced many terrified residents into the streets.

The BBC reported the following eyewitness accounts: “I was woken at around 04:00 by the quake, it was strong and lasted up to a minute, maybe more,” Frankie Thompson, a UK travel journalist in Bologna, told the BBC.   “Church bells were set off spontaneously… followed by an eerie silence. Small aftershocks kept coming and going until maybe 05:50 when a stronger tremor shook us again but not as long and dramatic as the first,” she added.

Britain’s David Trew, who is staying in a hotel in Ferrara, told the BBC: “I was sound asleep when the tremors started. I was having quite a vivid dream, and the first few seconds of the quake became part of the dream.  “As I began to wake up it took me a few seconds to realize that it was actually happening for real. I fumbled around in the darkness, now very scared. The room was shaking violently, plaster was dropping off the ceiling into my hair and all over the floor.”

The search for survivors continues as aftershocks rattle residents. The last major earthquake to hit Italy was a 6.3 magnitude quake in the central Italian city of L’Aquila in 2009, killing nearly 300 people.

Magnitude 7.6 Earthquake Strikes Mexico

March 20th, 2012 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

The U.S. Geological Service confirmed the magnitude 7.6 earthquake hit at 12:02 (Pacific time).  At about 6.2 miles deep, the quake epicenter occurred in the southern Guerrero state, near the border with Oaxaca state, about 115 miles from the tourist resort of Acapulco and 100 miles from Oaxaca City. In Mexico City, the quake shook buildings and a prolonged rocking motion swayed buildings and sent terrified people flooding into the streets.  Cell phone lines went down and traffic jammed in the moments after the quake. But there did not appear to be any major damage in the city.

According to the LA Times Blog, the governor of Oaxaca, Gabino Cue, reported cracks and broken windows in several schools and minor damage to a number of Oaxaca City’s iconic monuments. He said signposts had fallen in the city as well. Workers at two hotels in Oaxaca said they noticed a few seconds of shaking but no real damage or injuries.  “Yes, we felt the shaking for 15 to 20 seconds, but no damage,” a woman at the front desk of the Hotel Marina in Huatulco told ABC News.

No reports of injuries at this time. Also, the USGS has not issued a tsunami warning or advisory in the area.

USGS Mexico Quake Map

USGS Mexico Quake Map

Japan Tsunami Disaster Anniversary

March 11th, 2012 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Natural Disasters, Tsunami | No Comments »

A year ago today, a massive 9.0 earthquake battered Japan, followed by a lethal tsunami, ravaging fires, and nuclear power plant meltdown. Entire villages were wiped out, thousands of people were reported missing, thousands more were injured and left homeless, and more than 15,000 people were killed. In one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of Japan, the world watched in horror. Images from the devastated country made us all heartsick, and perhaps made us feel vulnerable to the power of nature—or at least aware of it.

The aftermath left a wasteland of once pristine and vibrant coastal communities. Though some restoration has occurred, there is obviously so much more to do. But for today, thousands of Japanese will pause from their daily activities to pay respects to the victims lost in the disaster.

Remains of a Home After the Tsunami

And how are the survivors doing a year later? According to The Telegraph, “In the worst-affected areas, the clear-up, let alone the recovery is far from complete. Ships stay stranded inland, cars sit where they came to rest on top of buildings.”

An article in the San Jose Mercury News reported, “Of course the scenes on TV were horrific,” said Dianne Fukami, president of the board of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, a former TV journalist who is producing a documentary about relief efforts by the Japanese-American community. “But when you stand in the middle of what used to be a neighborhood and turn 360 degrees and can’t see anything that resembles a house, it’s a different experience.”

It appears that Japan has a long road ahead to revitalization—to rebuilding structures and lives—and we are sending the survivors our respects today.

Earthquake Poem

February 29th, 2012 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

A close relative, YaVaughnie Wilkins, knowing my love and respect for the power of Mother Nature, bid on and won a very special bottle of wine for me at a charity auction.  The California wine is called Earthquake.  She knew I would love it by the name alone.  However, when I visited the vineyard’s website I learned that “The original Earthquake Zin comes from an old Lodi vineyard planted around the time of San Francisco’s great Earthquake in 1906. The vineyard owners thought it fitting to relate the wine name with the historical quake.”

Not only that, but the bottle itself has a poem that pays homage to earth (land and soil) and earthquakes.  I’ve posted the mesmerizing poem below.  Oh, and the wine is yummy, too.


Old Lodi wines, yielding supreme

Like ancient volcanoes releasing their steam.

Danger is present, felt but unseen

Vines of such power, such high self-esteem.

Intentionally hostile, purposefully bold

Nice not an option when truth must be told.

Energy captured, awaiting release

Zinfandel Vines, the great seismic beasts.

Instilling such fear, a risk few will take

Nothing prepares you for the Zinfandel Quake.

Kevin Phillips–

East Coast Earthquake Rattles Washington, DC

August 23rd, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck Virginia at 1:51 pm EDT. The quake was centered near Mineral, Virginia, northwest of Richmond and located about 87 miles from Washington, D.C. The tremor rattled the nation’s capital, causing the evacuation of the White House, Pentagon, Capitol, and other government buildings. Shaking was also felt by residents in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; and as far as New York. The FAA has grounded flights in Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York airports.

According to the WFSB news in Hartford, Connecticut, witnesses in New Haven said lights and props inside Long Wharf Theatre began to sway, and a witness in South Windsor said blinds shook as she watched television inside her home. Several businesses in the state were evacuated after the earthquake. Reports of possible damage to buildings in Virginia are coming in and reports of damage to the National Cathedral are confirmed.

A 12:15 tweet from Denise Addis, Morristown Patch’s “Around the Loop” columnist, “It was bad here on South Street; my building evacuated in like 10 seconds, everyone went running.”

According to the U.S. G.S. the quake occurred half a mile deep. A. U.S.G.S. earthquake hazard map shows Washington, DC and Virginia are not high danger zones for earthquakes.

New Earthquake Fault Discovered

June 17th, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

by Victoria M. Johnson

Another earthquake fault was discovered near Truckee, California, a town about 35 miles from Reno. Using laser imaging technology, the scientists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discovered the fault while they were inspecting the Martis Creek Dam, a dam that already had major safety concerns due to considerable leakage and it’s proximity to three fault zones.

Strike-Slip Fault

Named Polaris, the new fault is an active 22-mile long strike-slip fault. The last time Polaris caused an earthquake was 15,000 years ago. Lewis Hunter, a senior geologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says the fault could trigger a 6.5 to 6.9 magnitude earthquake. But because the fault connects to others, the magnitude could be even higher if they ruptured at the same time. Polaris holds the added potential of producing a flood if the Martis Creek Dam is damaged during quake activity.

Though the discovery of Polaris was unexpected, scientists claim there are hundreds of unknown faults around the world.

Honeymooners Survive Six Natural Disasters

April 25th, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Natural Disasters, Tsunami | 1 Comment »

by Victoria M. Johnson

Stefan And Erika Svanstrom of Sweden planned a perfect four-month long honeymoon… but Mother Nature intervened.  The couple wed on November 27, 2010 and a week later, with their infant daughter in tow, they set off for a 16-country adventure. “Our plan was to get a lot of sun and beach-life early in the trip, and experience nature and culture later in the trip. Some of the destinations were chosen for the diving, as we are both keen to go scuba diving,” Stefan said, “leaving plenty of time to explore.”

The Svanstroms left Stockholm in December and became stranded for a night in Munich, Germany due to a severe snowstorm, one of Europe’s worst blizzards. The newlyweds enjoyed China and Thailand, but in Bali, Indonesia, a relentless monsoon kept them indoors for days. Another natural disaster awaited in Cairns, Australia where a catastrophic cyclone forced them to join a group shelter with thousands of people. “Trees were being knocked over and big branches were scattered across the streets,” Stefan said. Once the family arrived in Brisbane, massive flooding had put much of the city underwater. The Svanstroms then narrowly escaped bush fires in Perth.

Flooding After the Cyclone in Cairns

Moving on, the family arrived in New Zealand, just after the 6.3 quake hit Christchurch on February 22. Their last ordeal was in Tokyo, where they experienced Japan’s largest quake ever recorded and the resulting calamitous tsunami. “The trembling was horrible… we saw roof tiles fly off buildings,” Stefan said. (He also survived the devastating tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in 2004).

The couple said the most emotionally upsetting experience during the trip had been the Japanese earthquake and its consequences. “Oh – we’re very grateful that nothing happened to the family and we think a lot about the people, particularly in Japan,” Erika said.

The Svanstroms returned to Stockholm on March 29, 2011 after an uneventful final stop in China. “Although we’ve had some bad luck, we still have our lives. Our thoughts are with those who couldn’t escape these disasters. In the end, we are very fortunate to be alive,” Stefan said. The family plans to continue their travels in the future.

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