Courtesy USGS/Earthquake Science CenterA court in Italy has sentenced six scientists and an ex-government official to six years in prison for failing to properly warn the public about a devastating earthquake that killed 309 residents of the town of L'Aquila in 2009. The seven defendants were convicted of manslaughter and also ordered to pay for damages and court costs.
I think the court itself has failed to predict just how idiotic this irrational prosecution looks to the world scientific community. Let's hope an appeals court will be reasonable enough to override this terrible injustice.
Last month's earthquakes in Northern Italy produced some interesting examples of soil liquefaction, a phenomenon, that occurs often during earthquakes when soil or other uncompacted ground material suddenly loses its strength and structure and begins to act like a liquid.
Courtesy USGS Preceded by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake, Washington state's Mount St. Helens explodes with a major eruption in 1980 that flattens the surrounding forest, blankets the immediate area with mud and avalanche debris, and unleashes more than 500 million tons of ash into the air that reaches as far as Oklahoma (although traces of the ash encircle the globe). Fifty-seven people lose their lives from the eruption.
Courtesy Public domain from USGS via WikipediaIf you have nothing else to do this weekend, why not spend some time monitoring volcanic eruptions? Erik Klemetti at Wired Science has updated his compilation of a whole bunch of links to webcams trained on various volcanoes around the world. Some, like Hawaii's Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa weren't doing much when I looked at them, but others, like Mexico's Popocatépetl and Japan's Aso were showing some activity.
Courtesy USGSI got a text from my oldest son today that read: "Just felt my first earthquake." What's weird is my son lives in Brooklyn, NY. It's probably the last text message I'd ever expect to get from him. But there was indeed an earthquake on the East Coast this afternoon, a rather large one, in fact. The magnitude 5.8 trembler was centered in Virginia and could be felt as far north as New England and as far south as Georgia. A nuclear plan near the epicenter was shut down, as were some government buildings in Washington, DC. Callan Bentley, an associate professor of geology at Northern Virginia Community College who blogs on the American Geophysical Union's Blogosphere website, has posted some excellent information about it here.
This video is definitely strange. It was taken in Tokyo Central Park on the afternoon the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck in northern Japan. What it shows has been described by some as liquefaction. I'm not sure that's what's going here but whatever it is, I think most people would find it very unsettling. That doesn't seem to be the case with people in the park.
Be sure to watch it past the first minute (and the constantly barking dog) as that is when it gets the most interesting.
GPS positioning data is showing that the island of Japan has moved an incredible 13 feet closer to North America due to Friday's 8.9 earthquake (some are now upgrading it to a magnitude 9.0). It also shows some 250 miles of Japan's coastline dropped 2 feet. This New York Times page has some great multimedia graphics about the geology involved with the quake. The first is a series of seven graphics that clearly illustrate the plate tectonics involved in the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Courtesy USGSA strong earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand toppling several buildings and killing an undetermined number of people. According to the US Geological Survey the magnitude 6.3 earthquake occurred at a depth of 3.1 miles near Christchurch, which is New Zealand's second largest city. The quake struck on Tuesday at 12:51PM local time (6:51PM Monday EST), followed by several strong aftershocks. The city's population of 350,00 has been recovering from a similar quake that struck last September 4th.
Courtesy US Geological SurveyThere's been another fairly large earthquake in Iran, measuring 6.5 magnitude on the Richter Scale. This probably isn't going to bode well for some the country's women. Last time there was a major quake in Iran, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, one of the country's senior clerics, said it was caused by some Iranian women dressing immodestly. Liza wrote about this (and other superstitious claptrap) in a previous Buzz post. Iran is ranked #30 in earthquake prone countries in the world.
Courtesy USGSA fairly strong earthquake measuring 6.9 magnitude (6.7 according to the USGS Earthquake site) caused some panic but so far no reported injuries or major damage to population centers along the Gulf of California. The quake, which struck just before noon local time, was centered about 65 miles south of the coastal city of Los Mochis, and about 6 miles beneath the surface.