Stories tagged earthquake


Chilean quake sped up Earth's rotation, tipped planet's axis

Earth spins faster
Earth spins fasterCourtesy NASA
If you read the post about how earthquakes differ, you would know that in the Chile earthquake, a large amount of the Earth's crust plunged under its neighboring crust, bringing it closer to the center of the earth.
Just as Olympic figure skaters spin faster when their arms move closer to their body, the Earth is now spinning faster making our day about 1.26 microseconds shorter than it was before the quake.
Earth was also slightly tipped off balance, like when a spinning skater brings in one arm but not the other. The planet's axis tilted about 8 centimeters. This is insignificant compared to other wobbles measuring several meters resulting from winds and ocean currents.

While much of the Pacific Rim area was on a tsunami alert this weekend in the wake of the earthquake in Chile, the harbor of Long Beach experienced something much different on Saturday. The harbor had a huge tidal drop occur in just a matter of minutes, grounding many sailboats and yachts and closing the harbor to large sea vessels for a while. Here's a complete video report:

The other amazing thing, nothing anywhere near this drastic happened in any other California harbors the same day.


Earthquake and hurricane proof

Haiti housing resource
Haiti housing resourceCourtesy jasonpearce
Housing for Haitians may already be on hand. Sturdy, earthquake and hurricane proof, shipping containers often sit empty in port yards because exporting empty containers is not cost effective.

Pernille Christensen, at Clemson’s School of Architecture, along with Martha Skinner and Doug Hecker, have been working to develop a method to convert the shipping containers into homes.

“Because of the shipping container’s ‘unibody’ construction they are also very good in seismic zones and exceed structural code in the United States and any country in the world,” associate professor Hecker said.

“You get people back in their communities and it strengthens those communities,” Christensen said. “They work on their home, not a temporary shelter, and then they work with their neighbors to rebuild the neighborhood. It leads to a healthier and safer community. And these are places often in dire need of better housing.”


Learn more about shipping container housing

A powerful earthquake (magnitude 7.9) hit near the Pacific island of Samoa this afternoon. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has issued a warning for the Samoa Islands, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, and other Pacific islands as far away as Hawaii.

A powerful earthquake struck a huge swath of central Italy as residents slept on Monday morning, killing more than 150 people and making up to 50,000 homeless.


Hurricane Ike: Taken from International Space Station
Hurricane Ike: Taken from International Space StationCourtesy NASA

Natural disaster photos from 2008

Our Buzz blog here at the Science Museum of Minnesota has a category for "natural disasters". The links below are to photos I selected from a Telegraph News article titled "Pictures of the year: natural disasters".

My favorite 8 natural disasters photos from 2008

Chaiten volcano in Chile, on May 31
Sichuan Province, China earthquake, May 17
Flood breaks a dam in Nepal, September 7
Flood waters in east Nepal, on August 24
Huge tornado funnel cloud in Orchard, Iowa, on June 10
Tornado debris in Prattville, Alabama on February 17
Brush fire in Los Angeles, October 13
Flood drowned horses in Mexico City on August 26


Myanmar cyclone
Myanmar cycloneCourtesy Robert Rohde

229,000 deaths

In the first six months of 2008, natural disasters resulted in 229,000 deaths, effecting 130 million people. The natural disasters responsible for these very high figures are Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar last May 3-4, and the earthquake that shook China a few days later.

The severe hurricane season in the Caribbean and the current floods in India, which are reaching historic proportions, are also considered among the most serious disasters of 2008. (Sálvano Briceño, director of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction)