I feel like there should be some whacky music or pun-filled intro a la America's Funniest Videos, but we'll let this video just stand on its own.
Courtesy Public domain photo by David Rydevik via WikimediaNatural disasters are a fact of nature, and natural disaster movies are a fact of the film industry. Whether it be volcanoes, errant asteroids, earthquakes, or something as far-fetched as the seeds of carnivorous plants riding to Earth on meteorites (one of my childhood favorites) - the genre has been a story staple since the early days of cinema.
This year's offering is The Impossible, a gut-wrenching movie that portrays the effects of the December 26, 2004 tsunami in Thailand. The main storyline centers on a family of five who struggles to survive and reconnect after a 9.3 earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggers a deadly tsunami that killed more than a quarter-million people. In the film, the family is English, but the screenplay was based on the actual ordeal of a Spanish family (you can read about them here but be aware that it could be a spoiler for watching the film).
Personally, I thought the film was really good and gave an incredibly realistic and fascinating depiction of what it must have been like to have experienced such a devastating natural disaster. The special effects were amazing and I'm very curious to find out just how they were done. Plus it got me interested in re-examining the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
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.
Are you prepared for a major earthquake? Do you know how to protect yourself when they happen? The purpose of the ShakeOut website is to help people and organizations do both. Several earthquake scenarios for individuals, schools, governments, and organizations are provided on the website. The ShakeOut dtill began in 2008 with the Great Southern California ShakeOut. Last year, the California ShakeOut had 7.9 million participants.
2011 was the first year of The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. It was the largest earthquake drill to ever take place in the Central U.S. with more than 3 million registered participants. 2011 was also the first year of the British Columbia ShakeOut, the largest earthquake drill to ever take place in Canada, with 470,000 participants.
The next Central United States ShakeOut will likely be held on February 7th, 2012, with the first Japanese ShakeOut, centered in Tokyo, planned for the following month on March 11, 2012, the anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
Lots of stories on line about last night's earthquake in Mexico that killed three people. The quote below is from a story in the Huffington Post:
The U.S. Geological Service initially estimated the quake at magnitude at 6.8, but downgraded it to 6.7 and then 6.5. A quake of that magnitude is capable of causing severe damage, although the depth of this temblor lessened its impact.
The USGS said the quake occurred at a depth of 40.3 miles (64.9 kilometers). It was centered about 26 miles (42 kilometers) southwest of Iguala in Guerrero and 103 miles (166 kilometers) south-southwest of Mexico City.
On November 10, 2011, at 17:25 UTC (or 11:25am Central Standard Time), a shallow quake occured in Greece about 11.8 miles NE of the town of Patras. According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, this earthquake had a magnitude of 5.1 (later downgraded to a 4.6) and was a relatively shallow quake at 5 km (approximately 3.1 miles) below the Earth's surface.
This region is characterized by a high level of seismicity, and small tremors are continually recorded along the coast of Patras. Another interesting aspect of Patras is that in antiquity, there was an ancient oracle, over a sacred spring, dedicated to the goddess Demeter. Professor Iain Stewart from the University of Plymouth has been studying a supposed link between ancient. sacred places in Greece and Turkey and seismic fault lines. Many ancient temples and cities lie along those fault lines and this may not be merely due to chance, but they may have been placed there deliberately.
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
For example, the Oracle at Delphi has been given a geological explanation. The Delphi Fault (running east-west) and the Kerna Fault (running SE-NW) intersect near the oracular chamber in the Temple of Apollo. In that area, bituminous limestone (i.e. limestone containing bitumen, a tarlike deriviative of petroleum) has a petrochemical content as high as 20%. Analysis of spring water in the area showed the presence of hydrocarbon gases, such as ethylene. Geologists have hypothesized that friction from fault movement heats the limestone, causing the petrochemicals within to vaporize. It has been suggested that exposure to low levels of the sweet-smelling gas ethylene would induce a trance, or euphoric state. Could the naturally occuring ethylene account for the strange, prophetic behavior of the Pythia (the priestess at the Temple of Apollo)?
The Delphi research is certainly persuasive, and received favorable coverage in the popular press and Scientific American, but it has come under criticism. Critics argue that the concentrations of ethylene identified by the researchers would not be sufficient to induce a trance-like state, and thus the connection to the mantic behavior of the Pythia is dubious.
Report: Geomythology: Geological Origins of Myths and Legends
Article: Breaking the Vapour Barrier: What Made the Delphic Oracle Work?
Report: Oracle at Delphi May Have Been Inhaling Ethylene Gas Fumes
Related Report: Earthquake Faulting at Ancient Cnidus, SW Turkey
A 6.9 quake happened today (October 28, 2011) near the coast of Central Peru at 18:54:33 UTC (1:54 PM Central Daylight Time). It has caused power outages in many locations, and some roads are blocked by falling rocks, According to the USGS website, the earthquake had a depth of 23.9 kilometers (~ 14.8 miles). Peru's government-run Institute of Geophysics put the quake's magnitude at 6.7 and put its depth at 30 kilometers (~ 18.6 miles).
No tsunami threat is expected for Hawaii or states on the Pacific coastline of the USA, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
USGS Details: Magnitude 6.9 - NEAR THE COAST OF CENTRAL PERU
Courtesy USGSA 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey near the city of Van at 5:42am today, the most powerful earthquake in Turkey for at least a decade.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) originally gave the magnitude as 7.3 but later corrected it to 7.2 with a depth of 12.4 miles.
The Turkey's Kandilli observatory told a news conference it estimated 500-1,000 people could have been killed as a result of the earthquake.
Within an hour of the initial 7.2 earthquake, two aftershocks of magnitude 5.6 struck the same region.
I've read about this connected to other earthquakes–that animals sense something's gonna happen before it does–and that was observed again at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., just instants before the Great Summer Earthquake of 2011. Read all about it here.
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.