Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Earthquake: Group Waves and Soil Basins

I was just thinking of smug California, thinking their building codes would keep them sitting pretty in an earthquake.

It takes me back to my favourite topic: the cottage! Sitting on the deck, with a beer, I have almost the whole lake in front of me. Another beer, and I visualize it as a California soil basin. Big boats zoom around, and the basin is filled with waves, like an earthquake! (Beers do that to me!). Once in a while, the waves suddenly combine to produce a super wave, which is a group wave lasts a few seconds, and travels along as a wave, but much slower.

When I was towing the little kids on their tubes, I would chase these waves, in order to make them fly. There was great honour in being tossed 6 feet in the air, and still staying on the tube! They were very difficult to hit, being so ephemeral in nature.

My mind drifts to the beach off Cancun. I was a young wild guy, and chose to body surf on the public beach facing the ocean. It was pretty wild that day, but I didn't go any deeper than my waist. I would swim out, then turn around and try to ride a wave. Naturally, I was terrible at it! But, la, la, la, I swam out to another wave. Suddenly, this unbelievable wave loomed in front of me! The water I was swimming in totally sucked away to the ground! The wave hit me head on, and there I was in a washing machine. I was ready for this, knowing it would only last 10 seconds, and looking at the bubbles to see which way was up.

OMG! I felt I barely came out of that. So that was it for body surfing, and I went to look for sea shells, only going up to my knees. 10 minutes later I was smashed by another huge wave, and was knocked down. I gave up on my wading.

Now, this doesn't have anything to do with microbursts and sailing ships, but it does have something to do with soil basins. It took a long time to get a handle on oceanic super-waves, pretty well waiting for satellites. And it will take a long time to prove super-waves on soil basins. The current modeling videos show nice jiggly basins, resembling soft jello.

But eye witness accounts show something different. People have seen these things on soil basins, much like my cottage watching. This has always been pooh-poohed, since individual seismic wave move too rapidly to be seen. But these group waves march across the soil basin, like soil tornadoes, crunching everything in their path. The only thing left is a very confusing pattern showing some areas devastated, and some areas relatively untouched.

We'll never measure these things, unless we do something brilliant. We would need something like real-time interference radar, installed on high points, and beaming over the basin. I don't see that coming soon.

So California, enjoy your smugness, keep up the big party, put everybody in jail, and spend more than you earn. We are all watching. :)

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