Three recent major earthquakes: in Sichuan, China in 2008, in the Caribbean nation of Haiti in 2010 and in northeastern Japan last year - have led to what some scientists acknowledge is an embarrassing failure. They did not foresee such intense tremors would cause widespread destruction and casualties in those specific locations. Even in Japan, with state-of-the-art seismological and tsunami research and sophisticated hazard mapping, the size of the March 11 quake and the resulting tsunami were vastly underestimated.
"One, our ability to assess earthquake hazards isn't very good. And, second, the policies that we make to mitigate earthquake hazards sometimes aren't very well thought out in terms of whatever tens or a hundred billion dollars were spent on those tsunami defenses were largely wasted." Scientists around the world need to re-learn "to expect the unexpected" when it comes to earthquakes. In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to rush with such enthusiasm into earthquake hazards mapping without noting the limitations. "Now we've got these maps out there. Every country has a government agency that makes these maps and engineers look at them. There's some good sense in them, but there's a lot of problems with them too and the uncertainties in there are a lot bigger than we use to think they were...They're based on one assumption piled on top of another. If you treat them as being something you can literally rely on as extremely accurate then you're in trouble."
"We're playing a game against nature. It's a very high stakes game. We don't really understand all the rules very well. We need to very carefully try to formulate the best strategies we can, given the limits of our knowledge." Eyewitness accounts from historical times, combined with geological sampling will produce more accurate records of where and when huge waves triggered by the biggest quakes struck the coasts of Japan and other countries. Those methods possibly could prevent future tragedies. "These mega tsunamis, you had three of them in 3,000 years, once every thousand years or so. So, if you have a nuclear plant with a 50-year operating lifetime you're talking about a five percent chance of a mega tsunami [during the plant's operation]. So that's enough [of a chance] that you should worry about it."
but as we are.**
H. M. Tomlinson
LARGEST QUAKES -
Live Seismograms - Worldwide (updated every 30 minutes)
This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.
5.0 KEPULAUAN BARAT DAYA, INDONESIA
5.3 CERAM SEA, INDONESIA
5.3 JAN MAYEN ISLAND REGION
6.6 JAN MAYEN ISLAND REGION [east of Greenland]
5.6 WESTERN INDIAN-ANTARCTIC RIDGE
5.4 WESTERN INDIAN-ANTARCTIC RIDGE
5.2 BIO-BIO, CHILE
California earthquake swarms prompt emergency declaration in Brawley - Earthquake swarms continued Wednesday in Imperial County as the city of Brawley declared an emergency to deal with the damage. The swarm that began Sunday morning showed signs of slowing down Wednesday, with fewer quakes reported. The town took the unusual step of declaring a state of emergency after the swarm rattled nearly 20 mobile homes off their blocks and forced a slaughterhouse to close.
Yorba Linda earthquake comes amid 'cluster' of temblors. The magnitude 4.1 Yorba Linda earthquake that jolted residents around Southern California on Wednesday afternoon came amid the earthquake swarm in Imperial County. But it remains unclear whether the two events are connected.
The Yorba Linda earthquake is a likely aftershock from earlier cluster. The quake appears to be an aftershock of the cluster of quakes that hit the region earlier this month, seismologists said.
Earthquake clusters detected at remote Alaska volcano in western Aleutian Islands, but no eruption noted. The quakes began Wednesday evening at Little Sitkin Volcano and were continuing as of Thursday morning. No eruption has been detected.
There is no direct link to the swarm of earthquakes at Little Sitkin and a cluster of quakes that shook California's Imperial County earlier this week. Little Sitkin is located on an uninhabited island and is far from any populated areas. The seismic activity is UNUSUAL for Little Sitkin, whose last eruption possibly in the early 1900s is questionable. The concern about an eruption would be the possible threat posed to aircraft.
TROPICAL STORMS -
In the Atlantic -
- Tropical depression Isaac was located about 40 mi [60 km] SSE of El Dorado, Arkansas. Slow-moving Isaac weakened to a depression over northern Louisiana. Flooding rains continue across southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi. Even though Isaac is no longer a tropical storm, dangerous hazards from storm surge, inland flooding and tornadoes are still occurring. The center of Isaac will move over Arkansas today and over southern Missouri tonight.
- Category 2 Hurricane Kirk was located about 870 mi [1395 km] ESE of Bermuda. Some additional strengthening is forecast today and Kirk could near major hurricane strength. Weakening is forecast to begin by late Saturday. No threat to land.
- Tropical storm Leslie was located about 1010 mi [1625 km] E of the Leeward Islands. Could become a hurricane by tonight. No threat to land.
In the Eastern Pacific -
- Category 1 Hurricane Ileana was located about 300 mi. [480 km] WSW of the southern tip of Baja California. No threat to land.
Isaac - As the storm slogged its way across Louisiana and windy conditions calmed, the extent of some of the damage became clear. Hundreds of homes were underwater, thousands of people were staying at shelters and half the state was without power. About 500 people had to be rescued by boat or high-water vehicles and at least two were killed.
And the damage may not be done. Officials were releasing water from an Isaac-stressed dam at a lake near the Louisiana-Mississippi border, hoping to ease the pressure. They had also started work on a levee breach in hard-hit Plaquemines Parish. In Arkansas, power lines were downed and trees knocked over as Isaac moved into the state.
Farther south, where evacuations were ordered ahead of the storm, Isaac's unpredictable, meandering path and the amount of rain - as much as 40 centimetres in some places - caught many off guard. A hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said although Isaac's cone shifted west as it zigzagged toward the Gulf Coast, forecasters accurately predicted its path, intensity and rainfall.
Along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, officials sent scores of buses and dozens of high-water vehicles to help evacuate about 3000 people as rising waters lapped against houses and left cars stranded. A tow truck driver was killed on Thursday morning when a tree fell on his truck in Picayune, Mississippi, just across the state line from Louisiana. In Vermilion Parish, a 36-year-old man died after falling 5.5 metres from a tree.
In Plaquemines, a sparsely populated area outside the federal levee system, dozens of people were stranded in flooded coastal areas and had to be rescued. The storm pushed water over a 29-kilometre levee and put so much pressure on it authorities were intentionally puncturing the floodwall to relieve the strain. More than 900,000 homes and businesses around the state - about 47 per cent of all customers - were without power on Thursday.
Isaac has became a tropical depression, meaning its top sustained winds have dropped below 62 kph. Forecasters expected it to move farther inland over the next several days, dumping rain on drought-stricken states across the nation's midsection before finally breaking up over the weekend.
SPACE WEATHER -
IONIZATION WAVES - Magnetic fields snaking around the sun's southeastern limb are crackling with C- and M-class solar flares. Extreme UV pulses from the flares are illuminating Earth's upper atmosphere, causing waves of ionization to ripple around the dayside of our planet. "The extra ionization altered the propagation of very low frequency radio signals around Northern Europe." More ionization waves are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of M-class solar flares during the next 24 hours.
HEALTH THREATS -
Researchers find alarming global levels of drug-resistant TB - A large, eight-nation study today reported worrisome levels of tuberculosis resistant to first- and second-line drugs, along with higher-than-expected levels of extensively drug-resistant TB.
The United States is experiencing a dramatic rise in the cases of West Nile virus infections over the past month, with record-setting numbers expected over the next several weeks and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning people to take key preventive steps.
Mangoe recall - Splendid Products recalled certain lots of Daniella mangoes because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.The mangoes that are subject to the recall carry the Daniella label. Mango consumption is the likely cause of a Salmonella Braenderup outbreak that has sickened 80 people in California, and as many as 103 people in 16 states. Spokane Produce, Inc., recalled a small lot of its pineapple-mango pico de gallo sauce because it includes Daniella mangoes. The salsa was distributed to 11 inland supermarkets in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.
RECALLS & ALERTS