Great news in quake-threatened #PDX; Voters OK $480-million school retrofit bond. Background on risk from Yumei Wang (video). Much more on Dot Earth.

Double-barreled sub-sea great quake off Sumatra. At moment tsunami WATCH in effect but clearly potential to be a wave-maker. Keep track at tsunami.gov.
M 8.2, off the west coast of northern SumatraWednesday, April 11, 2012 10:43:09 UTC
M 8.6, off the west coast of northern SumatraWednesday, April 11, 2012 08:38:37 UTC

Double-barreled sub-sea great quake off Sumatra. At moment tsunami WATCH in effect but clearly potential to be a wave-maker. Keep track at tsunami.gov.

  1. M 8.2, off the west coast of northern SumatraWednesday, April 11, 2012 10:43:09 UTC
  2. M 8.6, off the west coast of northern SumatraWednesday, April 11, 2012 08:38:37 UTC
20 Cool Facts about New Madrid Seismic Zone. Poster commemorating bicentennial of the New Madrid Earthquake Sequence, December 1811–February 1812.

20 Cool Facts about New Madrid Seismic Zone. Poster commemorating bicentennial of the New Madrid Earthquake Sequence, December 1811–February 1812.

Urgent Need to Revamp Earthquake Assessments in Japan

Robert J. Geller of the University of Tokyo calls on seismologists in Japan to stop making long-term earthquake forecasts using flawed methodology, to scrap futile efforts at short-term earthquake prediction, and to stop treating the hypothetical ‘Tokai earthquake’ as if it were real.  Geller writes in a Comment piece published online in advance of print this week in Nature. (This is from the journal’s news summary, just released when embargo lifted on the forthcoming issue.)  More: 

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"We don’t think that large, global earthquake clusters are anything more than coincidence."

Tom Parsons, a veteran earthquake researcher for the U.S. Geological Survey, comments on his new work concluding that global clusters of powerful earthquakes are statistical flukes, with no apparent relationship:

No Evidence for Large Triggered Earthquakes Across the Globe

MENLO PARK, Calif. — New scientific research concludes that large earthquakes do not increase the global seismic hazard for more damaging earthquakes far from the mainshock. Although large aftershocks close to the mainshock remain highly probable following an earthquake, and small earthquakes less than magnitude 5 can be triggered at great distances, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Texas at El Paso found no significant increase in the rate of large earthquakes happening farther away than two to three times the length of the ruptured fault that caused the mainshock. 

“Based on the evidence we’ve seen in our research, we don’t think that large, global earthquake clusters are anything more than coincidence,” says Tom Parsons, USGS geophysicist and author of the new study that appears in this month’s journal, “Nature Geoscience.” 

The study looked at all M5 or greater earthquakes worldwide potentially associated with a M7 or greater event over the past 30 years. Using these data, scientists compared the timing of seismic wave arrivals and the occurrence of large earthquakes worldwide and found no correlation. 

The study, “Absence of remotely triggered large earthquakes beyond the mainshock region,” appears in a current edition of “Nature Geoscience.” The research was conducted by Tom Parsons, U.S. Geological Survey and Aaron A. Velasco, University of Texas, El Paso.


Quake Power Surprise; Caribbean Tsunami Drill

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"Don’t Know Squared: “It’s What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know” that can bring down any system designed by humanity."

Michael Schlesinger, an engineer and climate scientist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, provided this comment on my Dot Earth post rounding up reader views on next steps for nuclear power in the wake of Japan’s extraordinary nuclear emergency following the great quake and tsunami. His full comment is below. My Dot Earth post on “Complexity and its Discontents" following the Gulf oil gusher explores these issues, as well.

"The out-of-control status of the 6 Fukushima nuclear reactors and their stored spent fuel rods is a textbook example of "Don’t Know Squared – It’s What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know" that can bring down any system designed by humanity. In the present case, the reactor behaved as designed to scram (= emergency shutdown) during an earthquake. But the cooling system for both the reactor cores and the onsite-stored spent fuel rods was not designed to withstand a "once-in-a-millennium" tsunami.

While we can and will learn from this disaster, there will still – and always – be “Don’t-Know-Squared Events” that can and will occur that will render any human-constructed system less than foolproof. This is the primary lesson that must be learned from Fukushima: We humans cannot foresee, and thus cannot protect against, all the awful events that can and will impact our best world-class-designed systems. Accordingly, we should not construct any additional nuclear reactors until and unless we devise a way to render the spent fuel therefrom harmless = not be more radioactive than the world Mother Nature has created in which we live. This is such a tall order that it may not be possible for humanity to accomplish it.”

Yumei Wang, who coordinates disaster preparation for the state of Oregon, sent this image as a reminder of the earthquake and tsunami threat — remarkably similar to what unfolded in Japan last week — that faces the Pacific Northwest. The timeline is derived from data assembled by Chris Goldfinger of  Oregon State University)

Yumei Wang, who coordinates disaster preparation for the state of Oregon, sent this image as a reminder of the earthquake and tsunami threat — remarkably similar to what unfolded in Japan last week — that faces the Pacific Northwest. The timeline is derived from data assembled by Chris Goldfinger of  Oregon State University)

Hawaii’s Tsunami Plan

Hawaii has tsunami evacuation maps in its phone books, helping residents there respond to the alert triggered by the 8.9 earthquake off Honshu, Japan. This and other details coming from Yumei Wang, who is in Hawaii now but is a lead official in Oregon for earthquake and tsunami preparation and response. Here’s her note, with more coming:

"People are in traffic jams. The phones are overloaded. Long Lines for gas and food etc. The response and media seem well organized. Tsunami maps are in phone books (which Oregon doesn’t have)."

The Tsunami Alert

The alerts generated by the international tsunami warning system that was expanded after the great Indian Ocean quake and waves are both understated and chilling:

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 004
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 0830Z 11 MAR 2011

THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC
OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS…EXCEPT ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA…
WASHINGTON…OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.

… A WIDESPREAD TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT …

A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR

 JAPAN / RUSSIA / MARCUS IS. / N. MARIANAS / GUAM / WAKE IS. /
 TAIWAN / YAP / PHILIPPINES / MARSHALL IS. / BELAU / MIDWAY IS. /
 POHNPEI / CHUUK / KOSRAE / INDONESIA / PAPUA NEW GUINEA /
 NAURU / JOHNSTON IS. / SOLOMON IS. / KIRIBATI / HOWLAND-BAKER /
 HAWAII / TUVALU / PALMYRA IS. / VANUATU / TOKELAU / JARVIS IS. /
 WALLIS-FUTUNA / SAMOA / AMERICAN SAMOA / COOK ISLANDS / NIUE /
 AUSTRALIA / FIJI / NEW CALEDONIA / TONGA / MEXICO /
 KERMADEC IS / FR. POLYNESIA / NEW ZEALAND / PITCAIRN /
 GUATEMALA / EL SALVADOR / COSTA RICA / NICARAGUA / ANTARCTICA /
 PANAMA / HONDURAS / CHILE / ECUADOR / COLOMBIA / PERU

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