Friday, October 31, 2008

Wind Farm Bribing No Longer Allowed

Those days of schmoozing local officials, and giving money to their mothers, are now history. Yes, Virginia, there is now a special rule in New York State against doing that. Of course, that's only for wind farms, anything else is open season!

Bruce Power Makes a Push for Nanticoke

Continuing on it's theme to pick the worst possible sites for nuclear power, the Bruce Mob has openly declared "We're Going for Broke on Nanticoke". Squooshed between two major seismic zones, and firmly on top of a megathrust, at least the Nanticoke site has been studied, and seismically monitored for 10 years.

As usual, the question is always "Where are they getting their money?", since Ontario is sinking its tax pennies into Darlington. But the BM has a hook into pension money, run by little old ladies, and should do well.

ps. Here is the official announcement, at 1.00 pm Friday. The rate they're going, they should get this Env. Ass. done, as well as Bruce C, and the Deep Sucker, before Darlington B.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

$200 Billion Loss for Hayward

Coming soon to a fault near you!

A new report out that gives a $200 billion dollar loss for the next Hayward, while the insurance industry gets soaked for $30 billion (money they probably don't have now!).

The little report that you can download looks cute.

Bat-Killing Fungus Identified

I love my little bats! They showed up in late summer at the cottage. They finally were using the bat house I made years earlier. Those little bats can eat their weight in bugs every night.

Now they have identified the fungus that invades them in their caves. They had trouble at first, because it only lives in cold temperatures. But the question is whether there is something else that is making life easier for this fungus. When a bat is hibernating, what does it have to fight off any type of fungus?

Where's the PGV?

Will this be the paper that finally releases the strong ground motions for that 'bouncer' Japan earthquake? They are hinting that the 4g peak was at high frequencies, which implies that it might not be a record PGV. Still, I'd love to see it, as my guess is that it has to be 1 to 2 m/s at least.

Mud Brick Homes in Earthquakes


I was noticing in these pictures that there were still good roads, lots of cars, and electricity towers. What housing is going up to replace these? Isn't it possible to come up with a lighter construction, using foam concrete, steel roofs, paper tubes etc. Could the incremental cost be less than a car, tv set? Of course, in the case of a big landslide, there isn't much you can do, but each village could have a 'safe building' to go to when they feel the foreshocks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More details on BC incipient rock slide

This gives more details, plus a very cute video. I mean, really, these guys were cutting out the toe of the slope! This thing is still moving, and it's a guess how long it can move before going for a ride! I'm quite amazed it has stayed up. A good earthquake and WHOOSH!

They'll try to put back the toe they chopped out, and then start carving it out from the top. That's a heck of a lot of rock!

Earthquake: Time for the Paper Tube House

I love this concept. With a good roof, there are plans to make permanent housing this way in severe earthquake country. I've thought a lot about what can be done in these very remote regions. Obviously, piling rock and mud has not proven successful! Each mountain valley might only get hit every few decades, but in aggregate, they get hit all the time.

The house is put together by resin-treated paper tubes. Paper can be stuffed in the tubes for more insulation, and you can double-tube. I think it's better than tents.

It remains to be seen whether these things can be permanent for the mountain dwellers. Or some other method needs to be developed.

Toronto to get Wind Turbine Clothes Lines


For years I had an office right beside that wind turbine in Pickering. For the whole summer, it never turned! You could hang clothes on it to dry! Now they want to install a bunch of them on a 'shallow reef' out from the Scarborough Bluffs. Hello? Have you seen all the seismic work we did out there? There is no shallow reef! It's all drifting silt.

Another case of geology being ignored for the greater cause of getting something approved. But, as we've seen with the Niagara Collapsing Tunnel, geology always bites back!

Nuclear Plants Boil a Lake

How many nuclear plants does it take to boil a lake? Well, in Virginia, they are going to conduct this experiment. With two reactors, they got it up to hot tub temperatures, adding a third is really going to do something!

Earthquake Hits Pakistan

Not a big earthquake, only an M6.4, but when something like this hits highly-populated, unstable ground, there's trouble. These earthquakes are almost always high-pulse thrust faults, that daylight right under a populated valley. These giant faults are the reason that the valley exists.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Burgess Shale - Lucky Mineralization

The Burgess Shale is in Canada! I didn't know that, I always thought it was in Britain, with all those evolution guys. Anyway, it was preserved because it won the mineralization lottery (well, some shale somewhere had to win!).

For some reason, perhaps to compensate for the horrendous doom of these millions of sea creature, they got pickled with the good stuff, that could hold up to subsequent cooking. Probably silica.


Whoops, had the time step wrong.

This is immensely fun! I recommend it for anybody! Look at that ball smash the bricks!

YADE Working!

It's working! Right now I'm waiting for the dang ball to hit the stack of bricks. So slow! I figure it'll hit by tonight, and we can see what happens.

No Place to Poop after Major Earthquake

Only in Japan, in the land of automatic bum-washer toilets, would this be headline news. With buildings crashing down, no food or water, dead people all around you, how to do a proper poop is on top of your list! The solution? Always carry tissues, and a plastic poop bag. Maybe a fold-out screen to allow some privacy. But where to deposit the poop? That waits for another study!

YADE - Discrete Element Method

Once again, I am bored. There is nothing to write about! I just found out that any chance of anybody paying me is a year away! So although I am free to write about all the local follies, I am currently loathe to do so. I think I'll wait until it becomes totally obvious, even to our lovable local media.

Now I'm working on these neato computer program- YADE. It has a wiki here. As is usual with these things, I have no idea what I am doing, but the program is compiling as I speak. It's something like a finite element program, but can work with discrete elements, such as loose spheres. I probably don't have enough computing power.

With such a program, you can have a stack of bricks, or pile of spheres, and do something to them, such as excavate a tunnel. Then you can watch the whole thing fall down, if you are dumb enough to drill a circular hole in high horizontal stresses! I am particularly interested in the 'Lattice Configuration', which is great for fracture propagation.

The lattice somewhat resembles a standard finite element model, but you can do weird things, like this.

They have modeled a piece of concrete with notches, and want to propagate a fracture.

This is precisely what I want to do with my little 'circular hole' project. As well, the program can model what happens when you cut out the toe of a slope.

Landslide continues to move

Ah, the unyielding march of progressive failure! The giant slab of rock continues to move, and may outrace the efforts to control it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Beginnings of a Rock Slide

I liked this article because it was so clear that a rock slide was starting, and they closed the road. It's nice when everything works out.

You can see the upper tension crack forming. There are some other pictures in the article. I suppose they will cut it out and then rock bolt the rest.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rock Squeeze in Niagara

Here's the diagram I was looking for. It's from this paper. I had worked a lot on rock squeeze in the early days.

It shows the famous Niagara wheel pit. Note that the squeeze has gone on forever, and never stops. The pictures from this were amazing, with all the concrete totally shattered. Nothing can stop rock squeeze once it starts.

On the other hand, we can have a decent tunnel, such as Darlington. Here, the convergence stabilizes.

Now, do you see a resemblance anywhere to some tunnel we know that will eventually cost billions?

Actually, I was thinking, that if this was honestly approached initially, as a difficult tunneling job, it would never have been approved. It was sold as a 'slam dunk', 'low hanging fruit', type of thing. They had to have a TBM to make it sexy. Without these types of people, we would never have had such fun! Sort of like Palin.

As well, we have 3 other difficult jobs that are being sold by the same guys, and the same methods: Bruce C swamp, Deep Waste in Swiss Cheese, and Darlington Reactor on a Postage Stamp. All of these are 'slam dunks'.

Poor AECL Can't Do It

Hot off the heels of The Rotor Dropping Incident, it now appears that AECL can't make the numbers, even if they schlep in the old gungy rotors. Through a network of little birds, I hear that the economic free-fall has put in a lock for AECL winning the Ontario contract.

The article mentions that these guys were trying all sorts of tricky new things to juice up the effort. Naturally, there was a problem. But they should cheer up, since there is nothing newer or trickier than the new reactor design for Ontario.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Radioactive Elevator Buttons

I wonder what the world will be like if they never do anything rational about containing radioactive waste of all types. Here's an example! Right now, because of rampant nimbyism, or general incompetence (Bruce), there will never be safe storage, and everybody will just store such waste in their basements, or backyards.

Japan Nuclear Earthquake - No Records

I don't think anybody will take this as hard as myself, but I just found out that no accelerometer records survive from the big Japanese earthquake. This is the one that has shut down a nuclear plant forever. They were over-written by subsequent earthquake activity.

Now I will never find out the PGV, which is the most important thing. As well, this pretty well confirms that in-plant accelerometers never work when called upon. No wonder they can't get this plant back up!

Rock Mechanics 101 - Tunnelling in High Horizontal Stresses

I don't think anybody understands the true horror of what is going on with the Beck tunnel. In order to bump up the speed of the TBM, they are leaving behind a trail of destruction.

If you tunnel a circular hole in high horizontal stresses, the natural inclination of the rock is to try and squoosh your tunnel flat.

This can't be done easily in brittle rock, so the rock at the crown and floor begin to fail, in a progressive manner. There is nothing holding the roof, so the rock falls. But the floor, as well, is turning into rock pudding!

This type of failure can be non-stable, in other words it never settles down. Most tunnel excavations have some rock that fails, but the final cross-section is stable.

You can produce a very stable cross-section in high horizontal stresses, and is done all the time with the big uranium mines up north.

In this case the shape is horizontal-elliptical, and the stresses become even (and below failure!) all around the opening. Leaving it open for 6 months should totally stabilize it, and it would easily last 100 years, after concrete lining. The old Beck tunnels effectively did this by having a strong, flat roof.

Hayward Earthquake to Cause Big Damage

More estimates on what the next Hayward earthquake can do. I'm surprised at the big difference between an M6.8 and M7.0, but that's the life of an exponential!

It's sad that there really isn't much anyone can do now. For years I've been following stories on the terrible things they were building around the Hayward, such as filling in sag ponds. But nothing could be done. It would be like telling the Americans: "Hey, you can't just keep refinancing your house, and spending the money on Hummers!" Such is life.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

BSSA Call for Papers

Call for Papers

The Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA) will publish a
special issue on the 12 May 2008 Magnitude 8.0 Wenchuan earthquake. This
event demands our attention because of its devastating effects in a heavily
populated region, resulting in one of the largest death tolls related to a
continental earthquake during the last century. This earthquake occurred on
tectonic structures that were not considered very active, and the processes
driving deformation there are still very much in debate. Large continental
thrust events are infrequent, although faults that could potentially cause
such earthquakes are known to exist in other highly populated areas such as
frontal Himalayas or Caucasus. Thus, the data sets produced by this
earthquake will provide unique insights on continental thrust events.

This BSSA special issue will focus on results of investigations into all
seismological, geodetic, other geophysical, geological, and engineering
aspects of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. All authors working in this area
are encouraged to submit research papers for consideration as part of this
special issue. We recommend that authors contact one of the guest editors
who are listed with their primary responsibilities.

* Yann Klinger, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris
( will handle papers on geology.
* Chen Ji, University of California at Santa Barbara (
will cover papers on seismology.
* Zheng-Kang Shen, Peking University and University of California at Los
Angeles ( will oversee papers on geodesy.

The special issue will be published in September 2010. We will begin
accepting submissions in January 2009; the submission deadline is 31 August
2009. Manuscripts should be prepared as described at and should be submitted
via Authors should select the category "Wenchuan
Earthquake Special Issue" during the submittal process. Questions may be
addressed to Andrew Michael, Editor-in-Chief, at or
Carol Mark, Managing Editor, at

Very Interesting.

Big Becky Mired in La Merde

I was just wondering, what's happening with that dang tunnel? I had worked on it for a while, so it interests me. As well, with all the earlier bad experience we had with tunnels in the area, I recoiled at the thought. The old guys talked about the first tunnels, but they blasted the crap out of it, and had a very strong sandstone roof.

Then I came across this page, with is absolutely wonderful! It tells the current position, and how much rock is falling on their collective heads. Still a heck of a lot! When you use a tunnel boring machine (TBM), you expect precision to the inch. You use a TBM to get a wonderfully smooth concrete liner, at minimum cost.

Click on those pictures below on that page. They are fantastic! Look at the overbreak! Think of how they are going to line that sucker! I can't imagine that drill and blast would be any worse, so the TBM is a total waste of money here. When you line a long water tunnel, you want it as smooth as a baby's butt. This tunnel will not last 100 years, and you can't get back into it, after an earthquake tears it to shit, because you can't drain it!

When the rock is this bad, and the stresses are so high (note the classical shape of the overbreak), I wonder about the long-term stability of the tunnel. They are using steel mesh and shotcrete for the support, so I hope all the strains settle before the final liner. But the tunnel has such a bad cross-section that I'm not too sure.

What would have happened had the listened to the RockMeister Harold? No TBM for one thing, and more attention to the rock stresses. I would have either gone two stages, and put in a flatter, eliptical section.

So let's not look at this as a Total Financial Disaster (which it is), but as a great case study for future students of Rock Mechanics.


More Dry Casks

I love dry casks. They are so great when they are brand new, but they are built cheaply, housed in crappy warehouses, or not housed at all. Now, the west coast gets a hunk of them, right beside the jellyfish dump.

At their very best, a dry cask for nuclear fuel is a temporary container that is ready to ship to a final repository. At its worst, it's a cheap steel barrel, stored outside, ready to rust. In the US, every subsistence country nuclear utility has come up with their own fantastic ideas to reduce costs. So, where will we be in 50 years? I don't know.

And speaking of cheap casks, here's a Google puzzle, and you have to guess where it is, since I'm not mentioning their name anymore, in hope of getting big money.

These are the cheapest casks ever! They are supported on these rusty long legs with a hunk of welds missing. A good earthquake will knock them over like bowling pins, but they shouldn't actually roll into the lake. You can always defend them by saying that the steel should hold, maybe. Also, they only hold radioactive metal parts, not used fuel. So they can defend them, blah, blah, to the nth degree, in the sleepy media.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jellyfish Bung up Nuclear Plant

Oh, this is funny! Attack of the Jellies! What a mess to clean up!

ps. It would look like this:

Nuclear panel funding announced

As evidence that the Feds are all hot and heavy to help out their Bruce buddies, we tick off another stage in the Panel Show. Once again, the PWU rakes in the cash to do whatever, and there are the usual cast of thousands. I'm just following this with interest, and not saying anything -- no, not a word!

ps. here are the details. Oh that Eugene!

Applicant Total amount approved
Power Workers’ Union $ 13,000
Citizens For Renewable Energy $ 20,000
Greenpeace $ 66,000
Northwatch Coalition for Environmental Protection $ 56,000
Eugene Bourgeois $ 20,000

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Weird Earthquake Report

This link gives an excellent view of what the insurance industry understands about earthquakes. The full pdf has lots of pretty pictures!

Basically, it is saying that the risk will be lower than thought for tall buildings in California. Yet this report only uses PGA (my most hated bug-a-boo of all!!!), and makes no mention of soil conditions. They also don't mention directivity, or velocity pulses.

So, in other words, the Warren Buffet clan doesn't know squat about earthquakes, and isn't that a wonderful thing....

ps. most high-rises have to be founded on rock, or they will tip over. This makes them generally happy in earthquakes, but they can really fling in a velocity pulse. Buildings up to 10 stories can be founded on mud, with a raft foundation, and are something to be avoided.

5 earthquake hotspots in the US

This is actually a very good article. Whoever wrote it has great promise. I think our Canadian hotspots are better than those in the US, but I'm biased.

Volcanic Seismic Signals

Here is a rather self-aggrandizing news release, from my old alma mater, the University of Toronto. Although there are no details, I am assuming this has something to do with a previous article of mine on pressure tests of blocks of rock. (I did something similar for my Masters Degree). I'm also very interesting that my subject of Rock Mechanics has flitted away from Civil Engineering, and has found a home under seismology. I know Paul Young and am interested in his new position.

So now the world is safer and we can locate cities up on the slopes of active volcanoes. The view must be fantastic!

Hayward Fault Animation

Here is a nice animation of the exaggerated motions of a big rupture on the Hayward. You have to look at both frames in order to understand it. The rupture starts at the northern tip and proceeds south. You can see the P-wave running ahead of the S-wave. The rupture looks like it is zooming at the S-wave velocity, so it is not a 'super rupture'. (maybe, maybe not)

However, during the rupture, the P-wave maintains a steady distance, until the end of the fault, then increases its gap in the free-field. As well, there is a slight kink in the P-wave spread. So most likely, the model fully incorporates the concept of pre-rupture displacement, as well as a critical displacement. So there are some elements of a high speed rupture.

I've looked at it enough. Tell me if you see any directivity.

Insider Again?

It's so neat! I might be on the verge of turning from cold outsider to a paid insider on the CSA standards effort. I think the current state of seismic standards is going to really whack any hopes of new nuclear. If we can get our act together, we are clear to jam a nuclear plant at Darlington.

Of course, that would mean I would have to tone down things:

Bruce Mob: Ha, Ha, just kidding! I meant 'mob' in a good way, such as a crowd of enthusiasts mobbing the Beatles.

AECL: You guys really are the shizzle! I love you all!

Universities: I feel your pain! It's not your fault you can't come up with anything original.

Government: I am sure that toadies and washed-out politicians are all you can get for these panels and boards. Really, who would want the job?

I would appreciate any other suggestions on how I can become The New Harold. And please don't look behind the curtain, at those old posts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

BM (Waste Division) Sets up Insider Outside Review

The Bruce Mob (Waste Division) has appointed a bunch of insiders as an outside review panel. As usual, there are questions to be asked, but never answered:

Are they being paid directly from the pocket of The Boss? (yes)

Have they ever rocked the boat, at any time in their lives? (don't know, don't care)

What would happen to them if they issued a contrary opinion? (instant death)

I'm glad they have a geologist bureaucrat, with some experience in geophysics, but this guy isn't in a position to say anything (but deep inside, HE'LL KNOW!)

Bruce Mob (Swamp Division) Talks a Lot to Gov't

This is totally a very catty thing, but why is the BM having so many talks with a gov't minister? Must be something very exciting. I always wondered how they got their panel on the front burner, when nobody from Ontario is interested in them. I wish I could have some of that coffee and donuts.

Followers of The Fish

I've added one of those new bloggie-things to the left. It's called Followers. I know that in your busy day, you can't throw me a lifeline of a witty comment, or deal with the tedium of clicking an ad. That is why we occasionally suffer from a blog breakdown. But now you can actually do something active!

That right! Just become a Follower of the Fish! You don't have to go into a stuffy room and listen to the Cruise-ster. You just sign up.

Wine is Better than Beer

This is quite the issue for young geologists, and the general university community. Now, as when I was in school, everything revolves around beer! The best scientific discussions were over beer. The best part of conferences is the beer. Any earth-person will go anywhere for a free beer!

But do wild geologists care about cancer, and growing old? Maybe not, since they will still climb up a rock face, and hang on by their toes, while they swing their hammer. And I used to do the most wild things in the field. But for the old guys, red wine is better than beer!

The irony is that the red wine counteracts all the bad effects from the beer! Should we then have red wine chasers, after the beer? A very interesting problem.

Oil Goes Down -- Nuclear Goes Up

A new article on the price of nuclear plants. Naturally, it keeps going up! They mention there's a cross-over, where it's cheaper to go with natural gas, but recent bombing attempts up at Peace River shows a problem here, especially with highly-contaminated sour gas.

They also don't mention that the cost of Freezing in the Dark has also gone up. In fact, it is always amazing that these articles really never say much at all!

Judging by the recent Rotor Dropping Incident, and the French Cheesy Concrete Disaster, I would say that the cost of the next nuclear plant will be astounding. And why is that, you may ask? It's because all these people in charge are Peace-Time Generals. They've had 30 years of not doing anything. All the hardened warriors have retired, and all these guys have risen to the top by being back-stabbing, political weasels. They can't do anything!

As with all wars, these guys have to be eased out after they have horribly screwed things up for a few years. So, we are in for a lot of fun!

But we really need a new nuclear plant, since they operation-cowboys have totally destroyed Pickering A and B, and are working hard on Darlington.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rotor-Droppers on the Block Again

I've written so many times that AECL is going to be sold off, that I should cast some boilerplate. At least with the Conservative win, we've got Lunn some more. The poor US will lose Palin Nov 4, but Lunn carries on!

Anyway, they're all waiting for Ontario, to see if they go against all sense and reason, and boost the sale price of AECL. I hope they get a good kickback, since I know they're going to do it! If they don't do it, they make a liar out of OPG, who says they can get 4 reactors on the Darlington postage stamp.

Closed Up Fishing and the Cottage

No more fishing for The Fish, until Spring. This week I went up and down to the cottage a couple of times, and finally closed it. For those from more tropical climes, it means shutting down the water system for The Big Freeze! I don't go up in the Winter, since I've got better things to do than freezing to death.

All the canoes and such get hauled up, and the marina puts away the big boat. I've got a new gorgeous steel roof, and it doesn't go PLINKY-PLINKY in the rain! I was once caught under a tin-roof picnic shelter during a long, horrendous rain, and my brain turned to mush with all the noise! These new roofs are designed not to ring.

We've had a glorious Fall, and the colours have been fantastic. Not that many reds, because all the rain in the Summer, but lots of oranges and yellows. During the week, I was in the sauna, and decided to get hot and jump in the lake for one last time. BIG MISTAKE! All the heat didn't make one bit of difference to the feeling that all my skin was peeling off! I didn't do that again!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sunken Nuclear Rotors Have Missed the Boat

Those poor turbine rotors that sank into the briny deep have missed their chance to be in the new refurbishment. Rotors are nearly impossible to install while a plant is operating, even with a scheduled outage because they take so long to install. Now, they will just 'Raise the Rotors', scrub off the scum, and put them in storage.

Cheesy Concrete Finnish Nuclear Plant Hosed

This is the nuclear plant where it was discovered that the French can't mix concrete. So, it looks like the cheesy concrete will delay the project forever, or to be more polite - 'quel lang temps'.

Poor little Finnish guys. I know they're so smart inventing Linux and all that, but they got hosed on this one. Well, it's back to reindeer-wax candles for them!

Another nuclear waste fund takes a hit

That's the trouble with storing up money to decommission nuclear power plants. The fund managers have a party and put it all in Wall Street! Or they become giddy with all this money that they start wasting it, to have more parties! This is, of course, what our Bruce Mob (Waste Division) is doing, since they have infinite funds to throw around.

We only get to see the results (at 10 cents to the dollar!), at these hearings coming up.

Old Grouch Geologist Rails Against Earthquake Stupidity

No, it's not me! It's some other guy in Berkeley. They have built major structures on totally unstable ground. Improving them slightly (like they intend to do with the stadium) is worse than useless. At least it's not me this time, charging the windmills of political expediency.

October BSSA - Earthquake Velocity Pulse

Ok, I didn't understand at all what the rest of the article was trying to say, but I did like the title and the first page. I think pulses are magnificent! A velocity pulse is what I call the 'Fist of God' in a typical mountain valley thrust earthquake. You can also have them with strike-slip faults, but I don't think they are as powerful. I think pulses are greatly ignored when it comes to earthquake engineering. For example, these happy guys only consider the far-field 'rocking' or sinusoidal motions, when designing something as loony as base isolation. What happens when a pulse hits those suckers? Kapow!

A pulse is the only thing that will discombobble a nuclear plant, yet all their stupid 'seismic design' is devoted to sinusoids. Get real, people! Anyway, I like articles on these things -- the more the merrier!

October BSSA - Quality of Seismometer Deployments

My big thick BSSA has come in, and it has some interesting articles. As usual, most articles seem to be above me, but I can make sense of a few.

The star article is about earthquake detection, and evaluating 'completeness'. You can always slap together a seismometer array, but how good is it? Usually, it means you can easily detect earthquakes within the array, but the stuff outside becomes more difficult.

Using the methodology in the paper, they can come up with a completeness map for any given day.

Very cute. My own opinion is that this type of 'completeness' is a very small part of the picture. You also need accuracy in location, as well as a good estimate of depth. It's a bit like the big nuclear collider that never works; you have an idea of how much energy you need before you can discover the 'next big thing'. Maybe this new Italian-run (ha, ha!) CERN collider has it, but Hawking thinks it doesn't.

I have the same idea for seismometer arrays, in that you need a certain quality and density to fully bring together fundamental rock mechanics physics, and earthquake source mechanics. Without it, you are whistling in the dark. I don't think the US will ever get there.

Something Actually Happens in Sweden

A tiny earthquake that scared the locals. But more important, I latched onto this site which has the Swedish news in English! Nothing! Other than how great they are. I love it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wind Farm Blows Away

I hate these bat-killing things, but here's some good news! The Wall St. meltdown has caused some of these grand schemes to fail, but they blame the mealy-nosed government! This leaves things more open for the Bruce Mob to sell swamp-land nuclear plants to little old ladies! After all, electricity has got to come from somewhere.

The Great California Shakeout

They'll have a great party on Nov. 13! It's one of the biggest earthquake drills on the planet! Why can't we have one? We should all participate and promise not to phone California on that day. In a real earthquake, everyone and their dog will be trying to phone their relatives and friends in California, and the whole phone-thing will blow!

BC Earthquake Lecture

For those of you on the shaky west coast, there is a free lecture coming up. It celebrates 30 years of the Pacific Geosciences Centre, which hived off the Ottawa-based GSC.

Nuclear Turbines Take a Bath

Just the rotors, which is the main bulk of a turbine. Since these things are just solid steel, it will be easy to hoist them up again. Still, a piece of bad luck.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Toronto Mapping Party - Openstreetmap

Quite a while ago, I mapped a huge area around the house for Openstreetmap, the effort to make a non-encumbered map of the world. There was no activity around Toronto for years. Now, they are having a mapping party, where people go around with a GPS, and map the streets. Sounds much too young and active for me! So I won't be there. But I would recommend it to someone like me 30 years ago!

Dear hasmis,

We're having a mapping party in Toronto, Sunday October 26th and we hope that you will join us. This will be a chance for lots of mapping fun, plus mixing and mingling with other local mappers and exchanging tips and strategies.

See you there.

Best regards,



Plan to Dump Garbage Nuclear Plants Foiled?

Entergy had planned to dump 5 crappy nuclear plants into a new company. They would try and soak Wall St. for a few billion, since this was as good as toxic mortgages. Ha, TOO LATE! What will they do now?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cause of Interior Earthquakes Unknown

Unknown, that is, to the people who demand scientific evidence! But you and I are above that sort of thing, especially when there is no hope of getting that evidence, as long as the US relies on pork-barrel direct Science funding. Here is a nice long article on interior earthquakes, along with all the usual wrong opinions. :)

This is just a map of Ohio, with their faults. I think they are rather fanciful on the location of the Grenville Front, but, then again, most people are. If they had run some good, deep reflection seismic, they would have picked up the giant Ontario megathrusts that run through their state. Even in this DEM you can see traces of them, but in the US, everything is balkanized into state-only studies, because each of them have their own little state geological surveys. Once you step over the border and involve 2 states, it becomes a Federal matter, and they are only interested in California!

One day, after a monster earthquake, you might get a decent regional study, following the big megathrust faults, and their eventual fate in the US, as they grind up against the Rockies.

Cute videos

I was at my niece's wedding on Friday, and got two short video clips. One is her bulldog going up the aisle, and another shows the two flower girls. It was an outdoor wedding, and we had fantastic weather.


Flower girls

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Unusual World Seismicity Continues

The standard question to seismologists is: "Are there a lot more earthquakes now, than before?" The standard answer is: "No, you're dreaming." But this time, I am beginning to think there are a lot more earthquakes in a certain part of the world.

The 2004 giant slip produced a big dimple in the earth. This stress change has to work itself out. Since the crust is non-linear with big faults, there is a 'diffusion' of strain changes. This diffusion can go out much farther than one would think.

The big 'hit' would be thrust earthquakes in a north-south direction, north of the big earthquake. I've outlined this in red.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mighty Bell Buckles

This is just something on technology that caught my eye. As we all know, Bell is a shadow of its former self, with all the land-lines going, and all that stock market crap. They picked the losing horse for cell data (cdma), and are now losing all the nifty phones. For example, when my son got a super-nifty unlocked phone from the US, only Rogers could connect it.

Now Bell (BCE) has to replace everything, and they couldn't raise a plug nickel nowadays. So they have to collapse into the arms of Telus, and tell the world it's a 'partnership'. At least the investment is good during a recession.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mountains of Dinosaur Shit

Scientists looking at how some dinosaurs could get so big, have looked at digestive mechanics. They conclude there was an advantage in not chewing, but having a huge gut!

Each monster dinosaur carried 3 metric tons of digesting food! And when they pooped, they could cover an elephant! (maybe).

Nuclear fund gets hit by Wall St.

The extremely tiny pot of money for decommissioning Vermont Yankee, has taken a nosedive. Yes, looks like the Debt Clock is going to need some more digits! We know who is going to pick up this tab, or maybe they'll just put up a rusty fence around it, and walk away.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Harper Sinking like a Stone

Ok, the only geology part is the stone! But Harper gave us the New Toadie-ism for government bodies. He went far and beyond Liberal hacks!

Let's recap the CNSC disaster, for which we will all pay one day in fizzled-out reactors, huge expenses, and maybe even a touch of the old radiation. Once upon a time, it was the respected Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB). It was all techies, and we (the utilities) got along well with them. We, the underlings, put the fear of god in our political bosses by saying "The Board is going to get you!". This worked really well in providing, safe, effective nuclear power. I could stay ahead of the AECB by knowing my shit, and ignoring them!

Then the government wanted them to be fancy. AECB sounded too 50-ish! They wanted trendyness, and went for the CNSC, to sound more like the Americans. Once this was acceptable in the government cocktail circuit, the hack-vultures began to circle. One of the sleaziest Liberals ever, put in Keen as president.

She did all the usual hack stuff, firing everybody, making it more socially acceptable, etc. The CNSC lost every one of their brains, and the utilities were no longer afraid of them. No more could we keep the weasels at bay, and the place was swallowed up in total political self-similarity.

Now, Harper built up on this, and did it to nearly every government body, including the Listeria killers. Everybody was replaced with safe toadies! Who cares if people died? Keen dug in for one last kick at the can (just to be miserable, I'm sure), and got replaced.

Now with the Harpo, there is not a speck of brains driving the ship. What will this mean for Science, and safety? So, with heavy heart for a sophisticate who thinks all politicians are the same, I must support the Liberals, who have a chance of injecting intelligence in government again. Or at least they will be faster at realizing this big mistake!

Deconstructing the Volcano Symphony

One of the things that has allowed people to put up subdivisions closer to active volcanoes, is the notion that seismic signals can portend the exact moment of eruption. Refining this wonderful idea, recent work can simulate some seismic signals in the lab.

These are the 'pressure release' signals, which come when you get things all bloated up, and suddenly release gas. There are other signals which mix up all together for the Volcanic Tremor Symphony. But there are some cautions that volcanoes aren't just big balloons, ready to burst, but they may, in fact, be somewhat complex.

So, when they make a mistake and some subdivision gets suddenly roasted without warning, they can just say 'Oops!', shrug their shoulders, and say "Who knew?".

Lucy Jones Paints an Earthquake Disaster

She's my most favourite California earthquake person, ever since she said she bought a house on solid rock! They are working on a big earthquake scenario that cuts the Cajon Pass in half. This appears to be 'not a good thing' for the good burghers of that region.

I hope they have a lot of fun dreaming up all sorts of marvelous destruction!

Env. Ass Money Dispersed

I was digging through all the government junk on these environmental assessments. There are 3 going on in Ontario right now: Darlington, Deep Geology Thingie, and the Bruce C pension scam. Where did the little bit of chicken-feed money go, that they were throwing around?

For Bruce C:

The Participant Funding Review Committee
Bruce Power New Build Project

Miriam Diamond
Professor, University of Toronto

Alan Levy
Environmental Lawyer

Paul Scott (Chair)
Retired Regional Director of the Agency's Vancouver office

Recommended Participant Funding Allocations
Bruce Power New Build Project

Applicant Total amount approved
Saugeen Ojibway Nation $ 16,500
Northwatch Coalition for Environmental Protection $ 8,000
Greenpeace Canada $ 24,000
Citizens for Renewable Energy (CFRE) $ 1,500
Total $ 50,000

For Darlington:

The Participant Funding Review Committee
Darlington Nuclear New Power Plant Project

Miriam Diamond
Professor, University of Toronto

Alan Levy
Environmental Lawyer

Paul Scott (Committee Chairperson)
Retired Regional Director of the Agency’s Vancouver office

Recommended Participant Funding Allocations
Darlington Nuclear New Power Plant Project

Applicant Total amount approved
Power Workers Union $21,000
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper $20,000
Greenpeace Canada $34,000

And the deep hole in the ground:

Recommended Participant Funding Allocations
Deep Geologic Repository for Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Wastes Project

Applicant Total amount approved
Northwatch Coalition for Environmental Protection $ 6,500
Citizens for Renewable Energy $ 1,500
Greenpeace Canada $ 24,000
Saugeen Ojibway Nation $ 13,500
Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination $ 500
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility $ 4,000
Total $ 50,000

Note how Greenpeece made out like bandits! I like Waterkeeper's web site. The rest of these guys will add colour to the proceedings. But I can't get over the power workers getting money! They are rich and powerful, and this money isn't enough to pay for their weekly pedicures! What do they have to say, other than be all pro-nuclear?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

IDOT Earthquake Drill

Here's a cute little article. They realize they just an M5.2, and are preparing for the much bigger one, that the natural laws of physics dictate will happen. Meanwhile, Toronto forgets two M5+ earthquakes that recently happened just down the fault, in Cleveland.

But couldn't there be a better name than IDOT? What IDIOT came up with that? It makes me cringe as an earthquake person.

Crandall Mine Collapse

In 2007, there was a big rock mechanics story. The Crandall mine collapsed, killed 6 people, and then killed the rescuers! Naturally, the owners immediately blamed the nasty earthquake gods, did the PM shrug, and said: "Who knew?".

Of course, the high priests of the earthquake gods cried foul, and set out to prove that it was owner greed and incompetent oversight that caused the disaster (much like Canadian disasters!). They analyzed all the seismograms and came up with the fact that the main shock was the cavern collapse, with numerous aftershocks.

Here's a map of all the seismicity in the area. Wow, it's all confined to the coal mining areas! And of course, all this stupidity follows Harold's Power Law for Man-Made Disasters.

Still, this has some fascinating rock mechanics. I wonder it they have to do anything special now (like funding science!), or it's all back to normal.

Main SRL Opinion Piece - A Warning about Early Warning

This front piece was written by Steve Malone. His point is that the early warning systems are useless if there is no follow-through, and worse than useless if they are used as a phony excuse to engage in bad practice.

For earthquakes, these early warning systems are sucking up pork money, directly from the politicians. After all, the concept is extremely sexy: We don't have to do anything else, if we get 5 seconds warning! Tons of money is going into this.

He points out the general uselessness of other early warning systems. For example, Hurricane Katrina had the very best early warning system, days ahead, and timing to the minute. What good was it?

Volcanoes also have good early warning systems, but still a lot of nut-cases were caught by Mt. St. Helens, and he points out that now they want to build subdivisions on known volcanic lahar-freeways for Mt. Rainier, simply because they'll get early warning of a giant steaming mudslide bearing down on them at the speed of an express train!

Tsunami to nowhere

My new SRL is in. The first article is about a tsunami hazard in a one-horse town, with a teensy little harbour. The only interest is that this town is a tsunami magnet, and has had a tide gauge for a very long time.

It just seems to suck up tsunamis from the Kuril Islands, which is an extremely active subduction zone.

It has this tiny marina, which got bashed during the last tsunami, which nobody else noticed.

But the neat thing is that not all of these tsunamis beam right to Crescent City, only the ones at the south of the zone. This makes it somewhat difficult to activate the stupid sirens at the right time.

Kyrgyzstan, the 'atomic bomb' earthquake

These mountain valley thrust earthquakes are truly the equivalent of mini atomic bombs. If they show up, the town above is completely powdered. The only thing saving lives is isolation, and low population. In this case, the town was right in the beam of the velocity pulse (Fist of God), running up the thrust fault. As Japan has shown, you can get something like several g of acceleration, and a velocity pulse of metres per second.

If this happens under a city, then the loss of life is staggering.

Recession throws a spanner into nuclear dreams

Now that the 'R' word is upon us, and the US flirting with the 'Big D', the immediate question is all about whether we need all these silly nuclear plants. Well, the answer is that we need some, since the old nuclear plants are being driven into a hole faster than you can say "Sloppy". But do we allow the Bruce Mob to bilk the old-lady teachers?

This is the best time to build a new Darlington. The money wasted by jamming a nuclear plant into that tiny plot of land will prop up the economy. This is what governments are for -- pouring out money during recessions. And everything will be so much cheaper!

Artists oppose nuclear plant

Some life over in Quebec. The group "Flaky Artists for Chaos" opposes fixing up the really crappy old Gentilly reactor. Of course, their reasoning is that the show goes on when it's down for maintenance, so who needs it?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Visitation guest book

The blog will of the blog-late Mr. Asmis, who's fingers have become disconnected from his brain, has allowed the guest book to be opened for final comments. These will be be sealed for posterity, and shot into space.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

IAEA Seismic Centre

Every once in a while the IAEA puts up a booklet or two on how to assess nuclear sites. These are promptly ignored in Canada. Now they have a fancy centre to ignore!

With that, I enter a blue funk about my blog business, since with these guys opening up, I'm not needed anymore. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Adding a new Linux hard drive

I'll share this little experience with you, even though my ad count today is back to its usual one cent :(

My son's old Shuttle had finally given up the ghost. Both units I had seemed to blow up at exactly the same age, and they can't be fixed for less than a new replacement. But the disk was good at 120 GB, and I could use it to back up my main machine with my thousand and one videos! Using dvd as a backup is horrible.

First thing, the drive was one of the first SATA drives with only only a sata power connector. I had used up my 2 sata powers on the Cooler case, and needed a converter. Luckily I found one in my Drawer of Shit. Then I slipped it in, made the connections, so confident to do up the case, and powered on.

All Hell broke loose! Damn. All sorts of bitchin' about format, bad disk, blah, blah. I had in recovery mode and did a 'dmesg', which is the power-on log. Whoops! The new disk had slipped between the other 2 disks in order, which meant my old sdb was now sdc. That really got the old gal confused! So, open the case, look at the motherboard, realize that their labelling was total crap, and mix up the connectors. Boot again, and it comes up with Windows! Ok, now I know where sata1 is. Mix the other two, and it comes up nice, all in the order I want. Decided to leave the case open while running. Did you know that you can get a nasty cut if you clip the main fan??? (ouch!)

Now I followed Linuxplanet instructions. It's easy to format in one partion, and then put in an ext3 filesystem. All worked, and I powered off this time for final assembly....

Bruce DGR Myths - Liquid Drain cleaner is good

Dull this morning, so time to pick on the DGR! Today's myth is the age-old 'Liquid Drano is Good' in underground openings.

This is taken from the DGR scanty annual report. I've been fighting this one for 30 years. Basically, the deeper groundwater at Bruce is Liquid Drano (tm), in that it is very saline and alkaline. This has been taken as a 'good thing', since it means the water has been stagnant for a very long time.

A stagnant pond will not remain so if you breach it. So too, the stagnant, poisonous water of Bruce will not stay there if you drive a big sucker tunnel though it! It's all coming out!

Even if you fill the whole shebang with grout (which they never mention), this water acts on the tunnel liner, and rock bolt support, as well as the storage containers. This water is amazing! If you put it on aluminum, it fizzes up like an Alka-selzter. I wouldn't want any of it to drip on my beautiful hair!

This project will go ahead, no matter what. It will be very interesting to watch it!

The other extreme is Darlington or Wesleyville, where there wouldn't be a speck of water.

Law and order in Russian nuclear waste

OXYMORON ALERT! Seems the Russians have a little problem with their nuclear waste. I believe they are now attempting to license nuclear waste sites, or find out where they are. Puts our problems into perspective, although I think the US is going there, with all the garages and parking lots filling up with nuclear waste.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chaiten just passing steam

I finally found an update on Chaiten, my favourite volcano! As we all know, this has been the Energizer Bunny of Volcanoes, just going on and on. Now it's venting a lot of steam. Now, go back into geologic time and imagine a ton of these volcanoes pissing out water vapour. Add some CO2 to that. Do you think the world climate would change?

Bears and geologists

Ok, I've put together a montage of three articles.

The first "Russian bears trap geologists". There never was a follow-up on that article. Did the bears win? Did the Russian Army invade and kill all the bears ... and all the geologists?

The second is "Drop the rifle and pick up the bear spray". Where they say that a gun isn't as good as bear spray.

The third article confirms the second as "Man with big gun poleaxed by Grizzly Bear". He obviously hadn't read the above article!

BSSA tip sheet

Looks like they're circulating advertising for the BSSA. I can't wait to get my copy, and I'll extract some nice things. My membership is due, and I should pay the money, but it would be easier if SOMEBODY CLICKED! Otherwise, I'm cut out of most scientific things, like conferences, and the pay wall (this journal is pay wall!)

The first article shows that all bets are off when looking at strong ground motions near the source, the variability is too great. There have recently been some very high ground motions recorded at the impact point of the FIST OF GOD!

The second article shows how piss-poor seismic monitoring is in the US. Completeness of M3.3? In California? God awful! Even at that magnitude the location accuracy is probably kilometres! As I have said, you need M1.0 and a location accuracy of around 1-2 klicks to show off the Harold Mechanism. Worse than that, you're arguing over nothing.

Earthquakes crack open caves

This story has been on the wire for weeks, and I never glanced at it, because I was put off stones because of the 'Balancing Rocks' frenzy. But now even the Economist has picked it up (must be a slow day), so I had a look.

Well, it wasn't a situation of the stalactites (mites) being broken off, but rather new stalactites start to form when the cave system changes it's permeability. This is the number one thing that affects underground openings when hit by an earthquake. It is especially true when there is an open cave system that is clogged up by mineralization (or grout!).

Now what does this have to do with Bruce? Easy, they aren't giving me enough pirate money, so everything has to do with Bruce! :) It's just that open, unstressed, fractured rock systems are extremely susceptible to earthquakes. Sometimes the change is rather violent, with rapid flooding. At the very best, the Bruce DGR will stabilize the underground openings with lots of grout (which they never say anything about!), but this is generally useless when earthquake seismic waves roll in. Let's just say that I wouldn't want to be there! (I never want to be anywhere!).

Credit Crisis Kills Nuclear Plants

Well, this bigwig is saying that the credit crisis is going to impact the unbelievable splurge in new nuclear plants. I would say that this would affect the job situation of geologists, except that they never use them!

The US was going to offer loan guarantees for the first 3 plants, but without credit, this would be useless. Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Ontario), this offers us great opportunities. We can just buy a reactor reservation from a failed US bid, and install a 'real' reactor (AP1000), instead of going for the local wannabe. The only trouble is that neither Ontario site has enough room for 4 AP1000's. They are forced to go with AECL, with their high-risk, new engineering, super squished design.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Give me my daily wine

Today, there was one click, and I got 92 cents! Yesterday, I did an illegal click from my daughter's machine, and I got 1 cent! Why are some people worth more than others? See how much you are worth! :) I'm obviously worthless... (so all you Bruce lawyers can relax).

Oh, I get these day dreams all the time. The scene is the courtroom drama of the Bruce deep geology thingie.

Grizzled old, ex-scientist steps up to stand (since all real scientists are staying the hell away): Me Laird, here is a confused and unintelligible map of all the scientific data that the proponent has ignored, for example deep reflection seismic, radar satellite, airborne magnetic, etc. blah, blah, after several minutes of scientific boredom, I conclude they did a half-ass job.

Council for proponent: Me Laaaird, several comments: First, this person is a wacko, because he blogs. Old, distinguished, nearly dead scientists of the type we like in the courtroom, don't do that. Second, we have reviewed these data (just now!), and find that it won't change our conclusion (which we could never do anyway!). Third, why don't we all go out and have a coffee?

So, the conclusion from this is that I won't end up in a courtroom, and that wine is a good consolation (which you can help me with!)

Earthquake insurance won't pay

That nice Illinois earthquake that woke up Chicago apparently damaged a high school gym. Now, it turns out that the earthquake insurance won't pay up. They have used the age-old blasting insurance wheeze that the damage was there before the earthquake, and the earthquake had nothing to do with it.

This has always been a classic problem with blasting and other vibration work, such as compacting, and vibration seismic surveys. The owner of a rickety house says the blasting caused cracks. The blasting company is at a loss, since it knows that the house is so far away that the blasting did not cause it. That's why for most blasting, they always do house surveys, before the blast, and they monitor the blast.

We had the same problem when we did a big seismic survey for southern Ontario (that all the environmental assessments are ignoring). At one house, the owner claimed that the little plastic inserts in his thermal windows fell down. These windows are severely handled before they are installed, so this was clearly impossible without all his drywall totally disintegrating! Most likely, he bought cheap windows with plastic that decayed in the sun. Nevertheless, we paid.

This gym now has long vertical cracks and has to be fixed or torn down. Was it built by the mayor's idiot cousin, Sleazy Construction? Or did the earthquake do it? That is why, if you are going to have blasting nearby, or if you have earthquake insurance, you better take a lot of pictures, on an annual basis.

Teachers Pension Plan Melting....Melting

Ok, I'm not going to the cottage. The prospect of winter weather over the next few days has left me cold.

Pension plans are very near and dear to my heart. This story shows that maybe the teachers plan was a bit too aggressive. My pension plan is backed by the tremendous money going into new nuclear plants, and waste pits.