Saturday, January 16, 2016

Who ya goin' sue? -- Part 2, seismology

As hinted in the previous part, the two schools of seismology started differently, and are as different as apples and kumquats.  All names are mungled up, to protect the innocent (me).


The shining star of seismology, the West got it's big start with the 1906 earthquake, and the gigantic report written by what would become the busgus.  It is required reading for every budding earthquake person.  1906 left a big fault scar, and everything in the report is on mapping that.  Also, off the top of their heads, and with no physics background whatsoever, they came up with the 'Elastic Rebound Theory', that the fault is the generator of the earthquake, like a rubber band.

This starting philosophy is ground into their bones.  In fact, their motto is "Semper Stupidous", which is loosely translated as "Map every stupid little fault, for there be dragons".  You couldn't get them out of this mode with a stick.


Make no mistake, the busgus is a totally western creature when is comes to earthquakes. Eastern seismology only came into it's own when they decided to put nuclear plants on every street corner.  For a while, this school of thought was rolling in the dough.  But they had a problem - no mappable faults.  Out went the West.  The other problem was that they had no earthquakes, so it became the property of historians.

Obviously, historians have a different bent than geologists.  Both can't do math, but historians spend their time in dusty archives, and extract newspaper clippings.  This was the state of the art when I first got into the biz forty years ago.  Naturally, they had to focus on historic earthquakes, so now every speck of effort has gone into the historical zones, which will never have another earthquake.  So sad.

... continued again, until I run out of enthusiasm.

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