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From the "It Starts With An Earthquake" Department

December 29th, 2008 (10:42 pm)

current mood: blank

(In collaboration with the "Uh-Oh" Department)

Scientists eye unusual swarm of Yellowstone quakes

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Yellowstone National Park was jostled by a host of small earthquakes for a third straight day Monday, and scientists watched closely to see whether the more than 250 tremors were a sign of something bigger to come. Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone, but it's very unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days, said Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.

"They're certainly not normal," Smith said. "We haven't had earthquakes in this energy or extent in many years."

Full Article...

jajy1979 and I have discussed Yellowstone quite a bit so no doubt he'll be hearing from me in the near future.

Some years ago, FEMA (that would be the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is well remembered by Gulf Coast folks for its former director, "Heckuva Job" Brownie and for the superb efficiency with which it oversaw the Hurricane Katrina relief effort) made a list of the three most worrying natural disasters that we may face over the next decade:

1. A major terrorist attack on New York City
2. A major earthquake--"the Big One"--in California
3. A major earthquake--"the Big One"--making a direct hit on New Orleans

So far on Bush's watch, we've had two of the three, but nevermind.

In any case, these are not the most worrisome natural disasters, although they may well be the most worrisome that we have a snowball's chance in hell of doing anything about. As bad as all of these scenarios are, recovery is possible and will no doubt happen in time. They do not pose an existential threat to the survival of the United States (and the world for that matter).

There are other natural disasters which are far more worrying in that they are disasters from which we'd likely never recover. These are:

1. A major earthquake along the New Madrid fault line in the Midwest.
2. A major eruption of Yellowstone.
3. An eruption of Mt. Rainier.

We might manage to make it through the last one. The first two, well--we're probably toast. A Midwest earthquake would, in a very short time, leave millions dead, countless billions in property damage, all kinds of infrastructure destroyed and major supply lines disrupted, threat of a breakdown of law and order, and a lot of other very bad things.

An eruption of Yellowstone would likely create a huge area covered in hot ash and poisonous chemicals that would possibly stretch for hundreds of miles. It may well produce enough of a cloud cover to plunge much of a the planet into another ice age.

I also wanted to let everyone know that I'm going to start using a new Livejournal account starting in early January 2009: dimensionm. One reason is that I no longer think my current user name particularly fits me or where my life is heading right now. Another is that I am making an effort to integrate my blogging and social networking accounts more closely with my personal web page to try to drive more traffic to my sites.

I will not be deleting this journal, merely putting it in mothballs. I will not be writing all that many more new entries here and then I will not be updating this at all once my switch is complete. I'm starting to go ahead and add people to my friends list and join communities on the new account so if you see this strange new name (lj user="dimensionm">) show up and find that the journal doesn't yet have any entries, that's me. If you could re-add me to whatever filters you have me on, that would be great too.


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 30th, 2008 10:24 am (UTC)

Rainier erupting isn't even the disaster that's most worrisome for the Pacific Northwest; a major Cascadian subduction zone quake (and by major I'm talking 9.0+ and lasting for several minutes) would be much more destructive.

Posted by: James (jajy1979)
Posted at: December 31st, 2008 03:40 am (UTC)

Not necessarily. We've had issues with the Cascadia subduction zone and while it could produce significant Tsunami reactions and fairly sizable devistation along the coastal areas, it wouldn't be as long term as the ash fall and infrastructure damages assocated with Mt Renier in regards to US damage. Yes I recall Crecent City. That segment of the subduction zone is fairly far off the coast and where it is closer we have smaller populations. Evacuations are possible and the distance from epicenter may be sufficent due to the rock structure to minimize the shaken area. Now, the question is how many regions would be hit by that Tsunami? World wide the Tsunami is more damaging, but Mike was talking US issues.

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