Archive for the 'Earthquakes' Category

Important Update: Relief Efforts for Japan

March 16th, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Natural Disasters, Tsunami | No Comments »

by Victoria M. Johnson

Today at 9:30 a.m. on my Grant Whisperer’s Blog Talk Radio Show, special guest Barb Larkin, CEO American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter, provided excellent details about the situation in Japan and also provided the valuable numbers below.

To find information about friends or loved ones in Japan go to:

Let me repeat that: If anyone you know is still waiting to hear about their loved ones in Japan, refer them to the above web site!

To text a donation text REDCROSS to 90999. The donation is $10 per text and will appear on your monthly bill or will be debited from your prepaid account.

For online donations go to: or call 1-877-727-6771

The recorded episode, Special Guest – Barb Larkin, Air Date March 16, 2011, can be listened to at any time.

Aftermath of Japan quake and tsunami

Barb talked about the disaster in Japan, what the Red Cross is doing to support the relief efforts, disaster fundraising, and how people can help. Barb Larkin is the CEO of the American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter. Previously, Barb served as Director of Donor Services, Director of Development, and manager of the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund at Community Foundation Silicon Valley. Barb has been an American Red Cross volunteer for over 16 years and is a trained Disaster Fundraising Officer. She is a member of American Red Cross Disaster Services Human Resources system having worked on several disasters including Hurricane Katrina, the San Bernardino wildfires, and Hurricane George.

Tune in to the Blog Talk Radio episode to hear about the relief efforts.

Japan 2011 Quake and Tsunami Update

March 14th, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Tsunami | No Comments »

by Victoria M. Johnson

10,000 people are now feared dead. As the heartbreaking news of the enormous loss of life unfolds, strong aftershocks (6.2 magnitude) continue to strike and the nuclear power plant meltdown threats increase (though officials insist the reactors remain intact). To add further to the images of desolation, Japan now has hundreds of thousands of survivors without food, water and electricity. As if all this wasn’t enough to break the spirit, tsunami warnings broke out again in the Fukishima area.

A Collapsed Home After the Japan Quake and Tsunami

Reports have come out that the village hardest hit, Minamisanriku, had residents who received a 30-minute warning between the 8.9 earthquake and the tsunami. Thirty minutes to recover from a violent shaking of the earth, gather loved ones, and escape. Those residents then tried to flee the village all at the same time, blocking roadways and becoming trapped. As families still wait to hear from loved ones, they can only hope and pray.

Aftermath of Catastrophic Quake and Tsunami

March 12th, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Natural Disasters, Tsunami | No Comments »

by Victoria M. Johnson

The situation keeps worsening in Japan. Not only did Friday’s quake and resulting tsunami ravage Japan’s eastern coast, but now 686 are confirmed dead and 9,500 people are missing from the coastal village of Minamisanriku. Authorities confirmed that only about 7,500 residents were evacuated from the village of 17,000 residents.

Man Devastated by Japan 2011 Quake and Tsunami

Officials are still evaluating the calamitous damage. Shaking from the 8.9 quake, the force of the 32-foot high raging tsunami, over a hundred aftershocks and fires. According to AOL News AP report, four whole trains are missing. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says, “Our estimates based on reported cases alone suggest that more than 1,000 people have lost their lives in the disaster. Unfortunately, the actual damage could far exceed that number considering the difficulty assessing the full extent of damage.”

Aided by emergency responders from dozens of countries, 50,000 Japanese troops have joined the rescue and recovery efforts. More than 215,000 people are living in temporary shelters in five prefectures (states). And more than 170,000 were evacuated from their homes due to the threat of radiation from a nuclear power plant malfunction.

Tragedy in Japan Continues

March 11th, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Tsunami | No Comments »

by Victoria M. Johnson

Earthquake, tsunamis, fires, aftershocks, and now a looming nuclear power plant disaster. Japan has been hammered in the last 24 hours. As the death toll rises and reports of over 700 hundred missing and thousands injured continues, we can only imagine what the survivors are experiencing.

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) map on 11 March 2011 shows the predicted travel times of the tsunami.

The USGS reports that since the 8.9 earthquake hit Japan, at least 124 quakes magnitude 5 or higher have rattled the area. But it could be worse in the disaster-struck country. According to the New York Times, “from seawalls that line stretches of Japan’s coastline, to skyscrapers that sway to absorb earthquakes, to building codes that are among the world’s most rigorous, no country may be better prepared to withstand earthquakes than Japan.”

However, the quake has forced the closure of five nuclear power plants in Japan. Kyodo News reported at 2:00pm that radiation 1,000 times higher than normal is being detected at the Fukushima nuclear plant. interviewed, Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s just as bad as it sounds,” he said. But Steve Kerekes, spokesman for the U.S.-based Nuclear Energy Institute, said that while the situation was serious, a meltdown remains unlikely.

Japan Struck By Massive Quake and Tsunami

March 11th, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Tsunami | No Comments »

by Victoria M. Johnson

At 2:46 pm a magnitude 8.9 earthquake rocked Japan. This is Japan’s largest quake on record, and one of the largest ever recorded in the world. The epicenter was 231 miles northeast of Tokyo. The quake triggered a 32-foot tsunami that pummeled Japan’s eastern coast, killing hundreds of people as it swept away everything in its path. In the cities closest to the epicenter, Sendai and Honshu, hundreds of bodies were found with over 500 people reported missing and 627 people injured.

Aftermath of Earthquake and Tsunami

More than 50 aftershocks have been recorded, with tremors reaching as far as Tokyo. The photos of the region show catastrophic devastation. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a tsunami warning has been issued for parts of the U.S. West Coast in addition to the earlier warning for Hawaii and the western Pacific islands. A 7-foot tsunami reached Hawaii at 9:00 am but did not cause major damage. Officials warned that the waves could get larger. A magnitude 7.3 struck this area of Japan two days ago, causing no damage.

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.

The Day the World Ended

January 22nd, 2011 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Natural Disasters, Volcanoes | No Comments »

If you’re at all like me, you enjoy watching disaster films. Asteroid collisions, volcanic eruptions, mega earthquakes, are all events I love to see (fictionalized—not the real thing). Today the Syfy Channel has a disaster film marathon. With movies like NYC Tornado Terror, Category 6: Day of Destruction, Megafault, and Volcano: Nature Unleashed, scientists and regular citizens scramble to prevent the ultimate disaster that will end the world. In these films earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or extreme weather systems threaten the world as we know it.

Earthquake Fault

I examined what it is I love so much about these kinds of movies and here’s what I discovered. There are people out there who dedicate their lives to studying our planet—disaster films give them the recognition they deserve—as it is often their expertise that saves mankind. The threat of disaster or dealing with the aftermath of the disaster brings people together, giving a sense of hope for the future, that facing the worst the planet has in store for us, we will survive. I also like that sense of survival that comes out in these films, people have to use their wits to stay alive, they have to step up and be brave and do whatever it takes to live. Another thing I enjoy is the often thought-provoking question that many of these films ask. What about you? Share your thoughts on this topic.

The Worst Disasters of 2010

December 23rd, 2010 -- Posted in Earthquakes, Natural Disasters, Volcanoes | No Comments »

2010 has proved to be the deadliest year for natural disasters. This year alone, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and landslides have killed a quarter of a million people.

Haiti Earthquake

It started on January 12, when Haiti’s devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed more than 230,000 people and left more than 1 million people homeless. On February 27, a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck Chile, killing more than 500 people. That quake also generated a tsunami that further incapacitated the region. March brought about the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Melted ice from the glacier caused floods that led to the evacuation of 800 Icelanders, and volcanic ash forced the closure of air flights that stranded hundreds of thousands of travelers. On April 14, a 6.9 magnitude quake rocked Yushu, China, killing 3,000 people and injuring more than 12,0000. May 27 and 29 hit Guatemala hard. Pacaya volcano erupted first. Two days later a tropical storm caused destructive landslides. July brought devastating floods to Pakistan, killing about 2,000 people and affecting millions more. In August, China’s Gansu Province experienced massive mudslides that killed 1,500 people. And in October, Indonesia endured both a tsunami and the eruption of Mount Merapi volcano. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated and 350 people were killed. As we reflect on the enormous loss of life, we can only hope that Mother Nature is kinder to us in 2011.

15 Earthquakes Strike in One Day!

July 9th, 2010 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »

On July 9th, 2010–today–15 earthquakes struck across the globe. From a 2.8 in the Los Angeles area of California, to a 5.2 in the Sunda Strait, Indonesia. The Taiwan region experienced a 5.3 tremblor while a 5.1 rocked Sakhalin, Russia. A small 2.9 hit Southern Alaska but a 4.8 shook up Papua New Guinea. The remaining 8 quakes from all across the planet included the Western Indian Antarctic Ridge.

With all this seismic activity is the world’s scientific community in a panic? Are we in danger of ‘the big one’ striking next? Is the world coming to an end? These are burning questions that I wanted answers to. As it turns out, 15 quakes in the same day is ho-hum news. The USGS says up to 200 quakes a day is not an anomoly and 15 is nothing to panic about.

Earthquakes in the Middle Ages

May 14th, 2010 -- Posted in Earthquakes | No Comments »


I read a recent blog post over at Medieval Minds about Catalonia earthquakes of the XIV and XV centuries. Author Ann Scott, who is a medieval historian, sites a book, Historical Seismology, that features a study of the Catalonia (NE Spain) quakes. The study, which concluded in 2006, was conducted to evaluate the potential seismic hazard and to evaluate the quakes using standardized criteria. The findings were reported at the First European Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismologythe same year in Geneva, Switzerland. In the XIV and XV centuries, only eight earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or higher occurred, with the largest at magnitude 6.5 occurring in 1428.

I wasn’t sure why the study was barely taking place in 2006, but as I thought about Scott’s post, I was reminded of the value of scientists studying the seismic history of a region. While earthquakes can’t be predicted yet, research provides fault history and field analysis that helps geologists estimate earthquake probabilities. Armed with evidence of a probability of a large quake, scientists and authorities are better able to convince citizens to prepare themselves.

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