Friday, March 4, 2011

Wendy Sends a Note

My husband and I live in Toronto by the lake. We are very worried about all the earthquakes going on... we even had a minor earthquake last summer as you know.

We also have been reading a lot about the New Madrid Fault Line. is it for real? We have been reading that it will rip open and that it will cause some sort of near apocaluptic floods, Tsunamis and so forth... What is your scientific and oersonal view on all this? And if it were to be true, where would you advise to move? Is there any area in Ontario that is absilutely earthquake free and also at a very high elevation to avoid any potential floods? Im sorry if this is a silly question but these days we are not sure yet whether to believe the media, or simply if its getter to do the research on our own. I hope you can help us.

Thank you for your time.


Sent from my iPad

Dear Wendy, your thoughts are exactly the same as many people I've talked to over the years.  That is why I'm putting your lovely note up, to help others.  I'm also amazed that a long note comes from an iPad!  Maybe I should get one!

Anyway, I find there are two attitudes for earthquakes.  One is total willful disregard, like Toronto and Christchurch.  The other is terror.  Neither of them is healthy!  Although the Hamilton Fault is stirring up a big earthquake for us, I don't think it's much different anywhere else.  Also, I find that places with no chance of earthquakes are extremely dull. Must be the lack of Radon in the air!

Nobody in the 'power world' acknowledges the tremendous amplifications of soft soils.  They always say a factor of 2, whereas we know it's a factor of 10 to 100.  Thus, a famous seismologist in California lives on a house on solid rock, where they had to blast the foundations.  I would live in such as house as well, if I never had to go on the freeways!  Nothing will happen to that house!

Same in Toronto and Burlington.  They've done some really stupid things.  One housing development is in the major sag pond.  In High Park and the Beaches, they never fix their brickwork.  Lots of soft story highrises on the hanging wall.  This is a result of happy willful ignorance.

Now, what will really happen?  In Christchurch, 300 people dead in a city of 300,000.  That's 0.1%.  Maybe that's the same for Toronto's M6.3.  Most likely 10% of building stock damaged.  I don't think this is something to panic about, but a little effort could make it a lot better.

So, there is nothing very major happening, no volcanoes, no tsunamis.  New Madrid will stay down where it is, and be eventually joined by its vigorously growing baby brother in Arkansas.  They will never bother us, except for people in highrises, who will barf into their emptied fish tanks.

What can we do?  If you strongly felt the M5 in June, in Toronto, at your house, you are doomed!  :) Fix your brick, secure everything inside, get earthquake insurance, and hope you are elsewhere when the earthquake strikes.  But really, as long as your collection of anvils doesn't fall on you, you will most likely live.

For those really worried, get thee hence to rock, or equivalent, very hard till.  Nothing is going to happen on that stuff.  I was out on the patio, and didn't feel the earthquake, and it was barely felt inside.  My place is safe, but I did secure the huge leaning mirror on the upper floor.

As for any other disasters happening, there is always the chance no matter where you live.  Ice storms, tornadoes, etc.  My cottage is on a tornado alley, one just missed us.  There is no basement, or any possible escape, yet I love it.  You can't escape everything, even hiding in a hole has its dangers.


Shaken but not stirring said...

When should we expect the big one? Isn't it possible that it may be smaller than you think?

I live in High Park and just paid off the mortgage. It would be a shame to move now!

ps. I've had my mortar seen to.

Harold Asmis said...

I'm saying it's not really worth it to flee. I love High Park. I'm saying we should expect an M6-ish anywhere at any time, and take precautions. Repaired brick and no settlement problems is really good. Next step is to secure the interior. You could take down the chimney if it is over your car. If there is an earthquake, don't run outside!

ps. I don't have a clue when the next earthquake pulls in...