Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chile Earthquake: Soft ground bites the hand that builds on it

Wow! We haven't seen tilted buildings since Niigata, Japan! We don't have any ground motion data yet, but I've been looking at the pictures.

PGV- peak ground velocity
PGA- peak ground acceleration

An earthquake such as this, which affects modern construction, and should be well-instrumented provides a good check on our building code assumptions, which all work the same throughout the world:

You pick a sufficiently rare earthquake (usually 1 in 500 years).

You calculate the ground motion in PGA.

You maybe double it for soft ground, and take away factors for ductility, etc, so that it does not put engineers out of business (great politics here!).

You translate it to an equivalent lateral gravity force, usually around 10% g. This has proven to be fairly good throughout history. This is equivalent to tilting the building arctan 0.1 or a few degrees. You use the body force to calculate deformation and stress.

You design so the building 'deforms gracefully'. In other words, it can be highly damaged, but does not collapse, so people can escape.

Is this a good system? I don't think so, and this earthquake might help bring about some necessary changes. The main principle is good, but seismic is a forced strain, controlled by PGV, and is not a body force controlled by mass. When the earthquake hits, inertial forces cause the top to remain still, and the bottom to move. If there is resonance, then the PGV at the top increases, but the soil can resonate as well.

This is the biggest weakness of the current codes as seen in the picture. Nobody takes soft soil seriously! And it all boils down to using the non-physical PGA. Under high strains, the soil starts to yield in a non-linear manner, which damps out high frequencies. And this is great for PGA, yeah! It cuts down peak acceleration. For years I've been reading on how much better it is to build on soft soil, rather than nasty hard rock, because of PGA.

Well, silly people, when that soil is yielding, it is softening up, and down-shifting the frequencies. This pumps up PGV to tremendous levels. We can expect an amplification of 10 to 100 times, and building code only gives maybe a factor of 2!

So, there we have our tilted buildings. Perfectly strong, but tilted, and this is not good for the people inside, especially if they have grand pianos!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chile Earthquake PGV

I'm assuming they have good seismic monitoring in Chile. Hopefully, a lot of accelerometers in buildings and various types of soil conditions. This could be the best 'learning' earthquake since Taiwan! So far, the pictures have shown the collapse of some pretty shitty buildings and bridges. I'm surprised they exist, since most poor construction on swamps has already been cleared out by previous earthquakes.

There will be a lot of landslides, and soil deformation along the waterfront. You can't do much about that. From the map, it looks like the coast got hit with a PGV of about 50 cm/s. This is the 'light damage' limit for reasonable housing on firm ground, according to Taiwan results. Santiago looks like 30 cm/s.

Anything on soggy ground (and they have been getting a lot of El Nino rain) will amplify the ground motions by 10 to 100 times. The airport at Santiago looks like it got hit with more than 100 cm/s, but those things are always built on swamps! In historic times, when a village was totally destroyed by an earthquake, it was customary to move the entire town to firmer ground, so these people knew what to do!

I'm hoping for some good PGV measurements here! I'm sure this is also a test for some modern construction, such as base isolation, and energy absorbing elements. This earthquake could finally bury PGA in the big pit where it belongs!

Searching for Tritium Leak


Note to nuclear plant designers: Don't carry tritium-water in underground pipes!

I remember we went through the same exercise at Pickering. Hole after hole was bored to find the leak, or the extent of the leak. Once you have it all located, you can usually stop the radioactive plume by using wells. Tritium decays quickly, and can never be detected in the lake water if it slowly oozes out of the ground.

As I've said before, in the old days if we got a dose of tritium, we just drank a lot of beer to get it washed out. It isn't very dangerous, and just serves to increase your general dose, that you get from airplane flights, xrays, granite counter-tops, and wallowing in the mud!

Chile Earthquake Fun Facts

This is really the most straightforward of all earthquakes. The Nazca Plate clips along at a really good rate, relative to Chile. The 'seismic gap' that ruptured with this earthquake was said to be about 10 m in arrears. That means the plates were moving along, but this area was stuck.

Just a quick reminder about all the plates that are lying about.

The details of such a quake are fascinating, but I never really went into it too much. Specifically, the rock mechanics. Is the oceanic plate still hot and buoyant at that point, with the continent zooming over it like a bulldozer? Or is it old and tired, and sinks under its own weight? Does the subducted plate plunge, or does it plaster up underneath the continent. What are the forces that drive these things?

ps. I am assuming that Chile shrugged off this common earthquake for them, and that it is not a monstrous disaster.

M8.8 Chile!!!

Holy Crap! My daughter just got back from there! Bound to be a tsunami, and many deaths. Lots of aftershocks already. Waiting for the news.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Linking Seismic Networks


A rational call goes out to link the balkanized seismic networks of the Arabian Penn. On the surface, it is a neat idea, but it can't be done.

For our example, you just have to look at the US. Each state has it's own seismic network. The only regional, linked network is the federal net, with something like one or two seismometers per state. No separate seismic network is linked, rather these are designed as homogeneous networks from the start.

The big problem is that all the hardware is different, and events have to be picked over by a seismologist experienced with the quirks of that particular network. They can phone in their particular picks and locations, but it's not the same. I always thought that the study of interior earthquakes was doomed by this state-centric approach, but that's how the money crumbles. Many interesting seismic zones are unfortunately located on state borders!

We were lucky in Canada to hammer together a gold-medal seismic network for Ontario and BC, right from the start. Even though, it cannot interact with the old seismic networks, which are being replaced by Polaris instruments. So, the moral of the story is to design for integration right from the start.

If I were King Seismic of the world, I would lay in uniform seismic monitoring of all my designated interior seismic zones. It would prove once and for all the deadly seriousness of these zones, and how they grow into monsters. No more would they be laughed at, saying that they had all shot their load, and are past their prime! :)

Seagulls Spread Plutonium and Radium

Most Deadly

Ok, all you Vermont whiners, calling tritium 'nuclear waste'. Here's some real stuff for you! Something for everybody to think about, when all these nuclear facilities stand naked on beaches for the seagulls to enjoy!

Oh, and the Swiss are doing a nice job with opaline clay, but I don't know if it can take the heat. The pictures are nice.

Charleston Gets Serious


Skeptics argue that time is on their side, with the next big Lowcountry quake possible 250 years off. And then there's the cost during a recession. Estimates for the repair of the Rivers campus climbed in 2008 with $4 million added to take care of seismic concerns.

Apparently there may be some local corruption here as well, which adds to the mix. But this is the classic '250 year earthquake' problem. Charleston has a lot of unstable soils, just like Boston.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tsunami Actually Hit Haiti


Wow! I didn't know that! During the big earthquake, local landslides caused tsunamis, up to 3 m high. The earthquake was in a confined sound, so this allows really big splooshes of water to be created. The only people caught were the usual "Ha, Ha, look at all the water disappear!" crowd.

Istanbul in the Spotlight


The city is rife with buildings with glaring flaws, like ground floors with walls or columns removed to make way for store displays, or a succession of illegal new floors added in each election period on the presumption that local officials will look the other way.

This week all the papers are full of these articles, about 'Cities That Wait to Die'. It's the same old story, but these cities will probably clean up a lot faster than Haiti.

Chalk River Delayed Another Week


It had been hoped that the reactor would be back up by March. But with repairs going slowly, it now appears that won't happen until late April, and may even be later than that.

Delayed until April, but now they say 'late April'. Don't you just love these dribs and drabs? Perhaps we'll get to the point where every week, they delay it another week!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Geophysics Breaks the 3D Barrier


USSI's state of the art fiber optic geophone system is designed to finally provide the industry with the needed tools to make the transition from 3D seismic to 4D seismic monitoring feasible, which is expected to greatly increase recoveries from existing oilfields.

Yes, people, we no longer have to confine our seismic imaging to a mere 3 dimensions. We have gone to 4 dimensions! I know that was a struggle in your math class to grip the concept of n-space multiple dimensions, but these guys have done it! So, we need a name for the new axis! x,y, and z are taken, how about 'silly'? As we move along the silly axis, we see all sorts of new things.

This will be good for the economy. We have to invent a whole new set of 4D computer monitors. 4D glasses will be cute! And we'll have to launch a completely new set of 4D GPS satellites, but first we have to wait for a rocket motor that can shoot off perpendicular to existing 3D, and enter the silly axis.

Earthquakes Could Bury Geothermal


U.S. geothermal executives at the GreenPower conference dismissed any notion that earthquakes would bury the industry.

Conventional geothermal does not pump down cold water to heat it. AltaRock President Susan Petty said the Swiss example was a lesson in what EGS should and could avoid: shallow projects and drilling into major faults or near cities.

Of course, the whole point of geothermal was that it could be set up near major cities.

Ontario Nuclear Fades


Kim Warren, director of planning and assessments with the independent operator, said conventional wisdom is that economies rebound quickly following a recession. "That may not be the case this time around," he said.

Normally, one would use a recession to build a nuclear plant on the cheap, but we don't have that ability anymore. In fact, it looks more likely that we are going into a permanent Japan Tail Spin, for the foreseeable future.

What causes this sort of thing? It's an over-reliance on powerful cartels and interest groups. Our last billions will be spent on things that don't work.

In fact, for the very first time, I shall declare: "We cannot build a nuclear station!" There, I said it. I've always dreamed that we could do it, even though that last plan to put a crap aecl plant on the Darlington postage stamp would never have worked.

So, if we go down the Yellow Brick Spiral, then we don't have to worry about electricity supply. Unlike Japan, however, which has demographic and generational problems, we have a chance to come out it. But only after we've gone through hell, like Toyota, who gave up on engineering. This would require us to bust up the power groups, and we can finally get decent broadband, and electronic health records! :)

Of course, now we won't be able to build a decent nuclear repository, either, and we won't be able to prepare for an earthquake. Life sucks when you are diving down the rabbit hole.

At least I can continue to make fun of our last few billions being thrown away, like the Niagara Tunnel. :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Megacities and Earthquakes


Hey, I wrote the exact same article a while ago! But these guys are a newspaper and much smarter than me!

This guy is so good that he also writes a blog on what he writes.

In a nutshell, there are enough big cities on an earthquake zone (like Toronto!) that you'll probably have a big disaster every 10 years or so. Each vulnerable city hasn't had anything in the last 250 years, so they go La la la (just like Toronto!). Do we continue to do nothing, or do we tighten up for the rare earthquake?

Sounds Familiar


Entergy's aging management program is to "run it to failure and fix it when it breaks," said Blanch. "I wouldn't accept that program for my car."

Thank god we don't have a grouchy guy like that up here!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Niagara Tunnel - Asymmetric Overbreak in Cap Rock

February 21st 2010
The tunnel is 17.7 meters from reaching the 6,000 meters mark.
There is 1-2 meter over-break to the left side of the TBM cutter-head crown.
Daily mining average is 9 meters

Since January 1st 2010 the TBM has mined 501.6 meters

February 19th 2010
The tunnel is 5,958.3 meters long at an elevation below the surface of 88 meters.
There is 1-1.5 meter over-break. TBM averaging 18.5 meters per day

The Concrete Invert Bridge is at 4,100 meters

The Restoration Carrier is at 1,100 meters

Well, they finally reported! They were scared of my upcoming made-up story! I had such a good one! I'm quite amazed at this latest overbreak. The usual folly is to zoom through this rock at high speed, put in a stiff lining, and then watch everything fall apart. I can't conceive of the implications of overbreak in this rock, but it is slowing them down again.

As well, this overbreak is once again strongly to the left. I don't how they are getting such strong polarization of the principle horizontal stress in these upper rocks. It has never been measured as such. If you could measure it, the stress here would be gold medal material!

They have stopped publishing those nice pictures. Obviously their fear only extends to text! I should start making up pictures!

Their rig for extra shotcrete is trundling along at a decent rate. I doubt they have entered the really bad overbreak zone, since that would require multiple layers of shotcrete. As I've said before, hanging tons of concrete on this roof will be interesting....

World Record Permeability in Granite


"The discovery that granite can in places be as permeable as the Chalk Aquifer is a little disquieting for repository construction in granite," says Professor Younger.

That's very interesting. Deep permeable granite means something. I suspect if you drilled deep into the hanging wall of one of the Ontario megathrusts, then you would find this. That should be enough for the gov't to start injecting water into these potential earthquake zones! All they lack is a little water. I have a feeling that the granitic basement is permeable under Bruce.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Europe goes underground for nuclear waste


Yeah! Europe is doing something about nuclear junk, even though I think some of the plans are rather silly. I have no idea what Finland is doing. I hope they managed to pick the best site over politics.

There's nothing in Canada or the US. We have all opted for piling nuclear junk on the shores of lakes and rivers in populated zones.

Friday, February 19, 2010

How Good are Geologists?


This is an interesting article, and is relevant to any organization that relies on actual thinking. Sadly, most organizations do not. They survive by milking their position!

Haiti Fault Hides


Most unusual. They swarm all over the place, and no fault rupture! With an M7 creating a rupture disk of only 30 km diameter, it is possible to not reach the surface. An M8 at 300 km must have a tabular rupture surface, and will reach the surface.

If the rupture did reach the surface, it could have done so underwater. But since there were no seismometers on the island, we don't know exactly how it ruptured, so my guess is that it started at 15 km depth, and the rupture disk stayed totally underground.

Once again it show that an M7 is too small to make any difference in creating a stable stress shadow, and that an M8 approaches.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Standards Body Suffers Intellectual Attrition

This is straight insider gossip! Do not pay any attention to this!

Rumour has it that one (being polite here) of the last bright people have ditched out of the seismic (nuclear) standards body. I was one of the first bright persons to run screaming!

At one time it was thought we should have new seismic standards if we are to build a new nuclear plant. It was even well-funded by the old boys! I bravely marched as to war! Worse than Canada folding to the Swiss! (not watching the 3rd period!). They have no intention of paying any attention to seismic with the next nuclear plant, which most likely won't happen, so Calm Down Harold!

Anyway, I had the bright idea of reconciling Seismic Physics with Engineering Design. As we know, engineering has strayed far from physics with its use of some crappy standard spectrum scaled to Scummy Old PGA. It has left physics entirely, and thus finds it cannot handle a modern seismic hazard assessment.

I could go into my plan to do this, but who cares? The old-boy engineers just called on Engineering Tradition, and decided to do it by old book, and totally ignore anything done in the last 30 years! I ran away!

The last scientist stuck with it for a while and has now run away, as well.

But it doesn't matter, they can go on forever, and whistle the old tunes in their whiskey. No seismic considerations up here, nor anywhere. :(

Niagara Tunnel Feb

Shhh! Be werry werry qwiet! I always wait 2 weeks of no reports before I lay into them. The report appears the next day! This time I'm being quiet like a bunny, and waiting....

Earthquake Insurance for Canada


Alright people!

With the backdrop of the devastation in Haiti fresh in people’s minds, New York insurance regulators are not ruling out a similar event in their own state, a key reason they say insurers should promote the opportunity to buy coverage for such a devastating occurrence.

Here's something I found for Canada.

Anyone who lives near a fault line - and that includes parts of British Columbia, the Ottawa Valley, and parts of Quebec, particularly around Montreal - should consider this coverage. But earthquake activity is not limited to those areas; Cornwall, Ont., and the Miramichi region of New Brunswick, not normally considered hot spots, make the list of the top 15 quake sites of the past century in Canada.

You have got to add Hamilton to that list! I do not have earthquake insurance on this house. I am a slacker! I should have had it on the old house.

You are in trouble if

-you have a beautiful restored old brick house
-your dishes actually rattle when a truck zooms by
-it's so easy to dig deep holes in your backyard
-you have settlement cracks in your brick
-marbles on your floor all roll to one side
-you live anywhere near Hamilton on a filled swamp

Get the earthquake insurance! You can expect 50 cm/s PGV, and about 5-10 cm of object displacement. Enough to knock down bricks.

Those of us who don't need insurance (don't have the above) should:

-learn how to repair drywall
-fasten down anything breakable
-don't put all your son's hockey trophies over his bed.
-use the damn fastening strap on those flimsy ikea bookshelves! (betcha don't!)

Expect drywall damage, 1-5 cm/s PGV, 1 cm object motion. Enough to spill your coffee, and knock down your Royal Dalton.

Lake Erie Windmills


Here we go again! As you recall, there was a big snot-fest when silly old Bruce proposed a nuclear plant on Lake Erie. The locals went wild! I laughed at them and said they could never build anything on the lake because of tremendous ice ridges that move like bulldozers over the lake bottom.

So, in come the windmills! I can't even begin to think of the massive footing required to fight off an ice ridge! Perhaps something like the Confederation Bridge!

But even those things were just designed for surface ice! Oh well, we shall see.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

AECL's 'Overpriced' Nuclear Bid Flushes


That's it! A moment of silence for the expiry of the famous 'way too much' bid of $26 billion for another plant the size of Darlington. Let's see, what did a house cost in 1970, when Darlington was an 'outrageous' 8 billion!

Anyway, no new nuclear plant here in my lifetime. The Darlington site will be filled with radioactive heat exchangers, pipes, and fuel tubes, from the rehab! No seismic considerations will go into the new stuff, or the storage of the old stuff. I had my glory days in seismic! We can have Haiti's all over the place, and remain safely smug within our sleepy borders. Yeah! Pass the wine. :)

Seismic Guy Vents on Haiti Earthquake, etc.


The United Nations must act to stop construction of buildings that are like "weapons of mass destruction," says a leading earthquake expert.

I've never heard of this guy, but what the heck, he can have his moment of fame. To think, old seismic guys venting! What will they come up with next?

30 minutes to know that Haiti got flattened? I knew as soon as the ticker came up, maybe 29 minutes! :)

People Yammer about Darlington Cost


The story is simple. The operation gorillas prematurely ran down Darlington, by not taking care of the fuel vibration problem. Now, they replace the whole thing for 8 billion. They still have the water laser problem which will destroy the plant early, once again, but what the hey!

The ndp want an exact cost. What a bunch of whiners! Do we have an exact cost of the Niagara Tunnel? Do we have exact costs of anything? You've got to realize that if nuclear craps out, then everybody in NA will go back to natural gas, and the so-called surplus will evaporate.

So, hold your nose and fix Darlington. Price future electricity at scarcity levels, and it will seem cheap, no matter how many parties my old buddies have!

But I do find it funny that there is no room at Darlington for all the rusty barrels that will be necessary to store the tubes and heat exchangers. Like Pickering, they'll fill up a huge area of big barrels on wobbly stilts. Ha! No new nuclear station! You could take all the waste to Wesleyville, but wouldn't that be a hoot, since the backwater boys don't want nothing!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Nuclear Plants Started - Maybe


Yeah! Two new plants started! ---maybe--- More stuff to write about! How will they handle the seismic? Do they just plunk down the standard design without thinking about local geology? Will they go with the standard designs or try to squeeze in something new? How will they make it cheaper than it should be? Do they now have room on the site for all the nuclear waste? Will they go to the French for concrete advice?

Nuclear incident oozes out of the muck


The CNSC filing said it was issuing details of the worker exposure because it was “an occurrence or incident that receives, or may receive, substantial media coverage or that has a high public visibility.”

Man, could they have been any slower on reporting this? Sounds like they finally had to let it go because somebody found out. They make Toyota look responsive!

Speaking of Toyota, the Economist had a great article on their totally sluggish inbred corporate culture. Sounds like my old company! These companies are great for executing the orders of a brilliant elite group, but cannot report back when that group starts losing its brains. Thus, if design rot starts hitting the company, it cannot find out. This is what happened at the old company, and is happening at Toyota, and every single Canadian toadie-run institution!

Still, my theory is that the last of bright Toyota brains migrated to the hybrid division. My Camry hybrid has survived! Now I'm looking at a Highlander hybrid, but I expect to get a good price! Otherwise, they can keep their decayed cars until Hell freezes over! :)

Battle of the Beers


Attention! This is just for geologists, who like to follow beer stories. Of course, paying $100 for a bottle of beer would make my heart stop!

When you are stuck in the middle of Namibia, on a typical geology gig, maybe it's the only thrill you got!

Old school gets seismic upgrade


This is a nice happy story. I like it! I get too gloomy over everyday stupidities!

What I like most is the use of deep footings. If you can reach the hard stuff, I would always go for that, rather than more exotic means. Of course, then you have to float the whole structure on those footings, which means a lot of steel for an old building.

Nuclear waste mess brings back the fast reactor


A typical Candu reactor uses slow neutrons. The neutrons can be handled with water, and when a slow neutron settles in on a U235 atom, it decides to split.

A fast reactor uses high-speed, very energetic neutrons. These things blast through water, and would jellify you in an instant! They have to use super-hot liquid sodium to control them, and capture the heat energy. Liquid sodium makes a boiler explosion look like a firecracker!

But fast neutrons can blast out all that nuclear waste, and make the problem go away! That is why it has been dragged out of the dusty cupboard and dangled in front of the Obama blue ribbons. Really, if you eliminate all reasonable approaches, you have to go with this!

"The world has spent $100 billion trying to build fast reactors, but they were too costly and unreliable," says Frank von Hippel, a nuclear energy expert and a director of the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University. "I know there are enthusiasts, but history isn't encouraging," he says.

Yeah, well there's that tiny little problem....

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cutting Out the Toe of a Slope


Wow! Here's one that exceeds the Indonesian Mud Volcano in stupidity! So, here we have these unstable slopes, and somebody is digging a gravel pit at the toe. La, la, la! They have tension cracks and local failures. La, la, la. The state makes a feeble effort to stop them. They go to their lawyers. La la la, and then KAPOW!

T'were'nt us that caused this! Must have been a distant earthquake. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

No Home for Nuclear Waste


Now, I'm not anti-nuclear. I had fun building nuclear plants, I defended them, and I'd do it all over again, if it wasn't led by idiots. But, we are in a world where it is all political sizzle, and no physics steak! Obama cuts off all reality in the waste business, and wants more nuclear plants. The local people may be all for it, if somebody hauls away the leftovers. But what if nobody ever does?

This is a rational problem, and can be solved rationally, but it won't. There is not a speck of incentive for anybody to behave rationally. The blue ribbons can keep the party going forever, if they never say anything! Our own Canadian waste party-people just want to appear to be doing something - they get lots of money for it!

In the end, when Pickering is shuttered up, we will get this huge mess sitting out by the lake, being corroded by seagull poop. Ontario will get poor trying to run an economy on wind. I will dance with my pension! :)

US Nuclear company gets fed 'help', stock goes down


Are they really getting a total gov't guarantee, like the savings and loans banks? Can they now waddle in and waste every dollar on parties? -without the tiniest incentive to get it to work? This shapes up to be a Niagara Tunnel scenario!

I remember building Darlington. Man,what a party! Any money that came from 'capital' was considered free coinage. I remember how one sleazy department insisted that there be 0.0000000 relative movement between two buildings. They ended up putting in beams the size of a train! Seismic motions were doubled, doubled again, and doubled some more, just for the heck of it! Billions flew out the window! Good times! :)

Now, I wait for the first US company to put in the shovel. They have already had a big party by constantly changing the standard designs, or insisting on totally new designs. Can wait to see what's next!

Earthquake Near LA

I just wanted to show how this is such a non-event down in California, but it's a big deal if it happens near Chicago! Also, the pulverized rock of California can't carry seismic energy very well. This earthquake is just a stress response to the main adjustments of the San Andreas, and doesn't mean very much in terms of when the Big One hits.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Earthquake Bitchin'

Ok, so I read these earthquake journals. And for the most part, they are horribly boring! I put up the interesting ones, like the one about PGV, and all that. But the most amusing part of any journal, is the 'comments and reply'. This is the scientific version of a cat fight!

So, the first paper was about some teensy earthquakes up in Georgian Bay, Ontario. Now, you and I know what really caused them, but my poor buddies had to go out on a limb, and put in a possible cause, without knowing the first thing about rock mechanics (they are seismologists after all!).

They conjured up some hocus-pocus about hot rock viscosity differences at depth. Puleeze! So, these other guys skewered them.

It has been proposed (Dineva et al., 2007) that the location of upper to midcrustal earthquakes in the Canadian Precambrian shield is related to rheological differences between mafic dykes and country rock. We show that this hypothesis is critically dependent on assumed lithology, strain rate, and temperature, and consequently is not established with any level of confidence. Furthermore, it appears to lack self-consistency because it postulates earthquakes to occur in the ductile regime.

Now, these guys don't have any better solution, but decided to say something anyway. Good for them!

Of course, the original authors had to come back with some feeble defence, but that's boring. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Going off to Chile

Tonight the daughter goes to Chile for reading week. They just had an M5.8 in the interior! This place is the motherload of earthquake zones! I just told them if they are on the beach and all the ocean disappears, Don't collect the seashells! Run like hell!

Earthquake hits Haiti 'Evil Twin' fault

So, an M5.4 has hit the northern fault of the evil twins that surround Haiti. My general impression of the plate, is that the inside is soft and squooshy, and lags the hard outer rim of islands, as it rams into the NA (Atlantic) plate. So, I think the recent big earthquake may have slight stress-relieved the upper fault. But, as I have said an M7 with its measly 30 km, doesn't really do anything.

Probably, these faults tend to alternate, but the lower one is strongly driven by that little subduction dimple south of the Dom. Republic, and has the strong historic pattern. It's the one that has to throw off an M8 in the next 20 years, in order to move on to Jamaica.

Sweden's Nuclear Copper Coffin Questioned


SKB, the Swedish company with plans to build the storage center, has told the Council that the waste would be safely stowed for 100,000 years.
But that statement has come under question, most recently after researchers at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology concluded that the capsules were too thin. They held that the copper would erode after just 1,000 years.

I remember 20 years ago when they first came up with something bright and shiny to wrap the waste in. I said: "What?"

So, they have this big leaky granite mountain, they are going to mine straight in, and totally rely on copper. Like I've said before, this makes it the best copper play in the district! Then they throw in some cheap bentonite, which probably hates copper, and walk away. I just don't think this is a great plan....

We can have a very simple plan, with perfect physics, but really bad political karma. Just dig under Lake Ontario with intact shale over dry granite, and have an Egyptian desert of dry, dusty rock. In 100,000 years, the radioactive atoms may penetrate a whole inch into the rock. No earthquake can touch it, since if we design by PGV, instead of stupid PGA, we find there isn't enough seismic energy in solid rock to knock over a coffee cup, which would be the only moisture down there!

Of course, the girl-chasing politicians would never go for it..... :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Health Records For All!


and reported Wednesday that security was so inadequate that there was a high risk of online interlopers being able to access information.

Do you know you can't do a direct cut and paste from these web news sites anymore? They have found a way to attach their ads to the clips! I have to put it through a plain ascii editor, and then recopy.

But, I digress. When I was new at the old company, we had the mainframes, and the whole computing world was controlled by these priests in their temple. Man, were they dumb! I always had fights with them. Flash ahead to when the whole place was controlled by Micro-soft-heads. Even Dumber!

Now, I've had some exposure to these guys doing medical records. Holy Crap! They go into a whole new category! There isn't a speck of decent security on these medical records, and they keep this all hidden, because that would be a security risk! Nobody decent gets to review it. That's why I'm quite surprised this guy got a peek into the cesspool. It wouldn't happen in Ontario!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google Buzz


Oh, I can't wait! I just created my (WRONG! account! I can put in all my garbage thoughts about things such as shitty unions, sex-addict ttc heads, and stuff like that! And I can filter out everybody else's garbage!

I've tried twitser and face book. OMG! What a rat's nest! You aren't in there 2 seconds before the celebrities hit you! At least the goog-meister has been good in filtering out spam.

I haven't seen it showing up on Linux 64 bit yet. Following googs tradition, it might be months!

This will most likely fizzle. Google-heim is composed of bloodless absolute nerds who don't know anything about social interaction. Still, it's fun to watch them try!

Tritium, the Death of Nuclear


In a world too stupid to deal with a racing engine, we now have the horror of trapped tritium! Nuclear plants ooze tritium, and it doesn't do anybody any harm, except to raise their measurable dose, by some small fraction. If you go to the hospital and get zapped by some Chalk River Unobtainium, then it's much more!

The Canadian plants pour buckets of this stuff into the lakes, but it can't be measured coming back. The Americans fail to realize that they injected tons of this stuff into the atmosphere with their Bikini tests in the 50's, and this layer is still used as a marker in soil studies.

The Americans are all poopelized by some tritium that is trapped in the groundwater. This stuff has a very short half-life, and will most likely never emerge, and one good rain will make it unmeasurable. Yet, I fear this 'Tritium Terror' will now doom all nuclear, and the 'Law of Unintended Consequences' will put nasty windmills over every bedroom!

Tiny Earthquake Hits Chicago

A tiny M4.3 rattles Chicago. As with all these interior earthquakes, they are felt out of all proportion to actual damage. I think they are just bitchy because of all the snow! In the historical seismicity, it looks like there have been very few earthquakes, but I suspect this area is very poorly monitored. An M4.3 usually has some reason for its existence!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pickering in the garbage, Darlington to be gutted


When I was in the old company, the buzz was always whether Pickering would get a full makeover. Now, it's being thrown out.

Darlington gets all its guts torn out after only 20 years. That's the marvelous thing about totally screwing up the operation - It doesn't matter! Once you destroy all the tubes, heat exchangers, and pumps, you just replace them! Ready to run them down into the ground again! So much fun...

When PickA got the new tubes, they just threw them into these rusty barrels, on rusty stilts, right by the lake. What will they do with Darlington? They don't have any room! You can't throw them where the new plant will go. I suspect the rusty barrels will go to Wesleyville. Don't expect to see that in the phony environmental assessment!

The Death of PGA


Well, I'm into a new experiment this year, where I am getting my BSSA journals electronically. I can download them to my Sony PRS700, and read them on the couch! The lead article is a compilation of peak ground motions to this date. It's a very interesting read, which basically says that peak ground acceleration (PGA) can be extremely high for a teensy earthquake, but that a high PGV needs a larger earthquake.

As well, PGA does not scale with magnitude, but PGV does. I've been saying this for years, but the stubborn old engineers must stick to PGA. This is another nail in their coffin. They say they need the loads that PGA supplies, but earthquake motion is really a forced displacement, not a load, and PGV is fine for this.

If I were in charge of our next nuclear station (Ha!), I would just use PGV. Surely these old guys must be dead by now?

Friday, February 5, 2010

No cheap e-books


We don't like the Amazon model of $9.99 . . . We think it really devalues books and hurts all the retailers of hardcover books . . .

Yes, e-books should be priced the same as hardcover books. Why not more?

I'm a big e-book user, and I think these guys are going down the same river as the music cd guys. Price it exactly the same or more than the physical media, even though the marginal cost of an extra e-book is near zero.

As we know with music, this strategy will boost the sale of hardcover books, and keep their handsome profit margins! Tree-killers unite! :)

Niagara Tunnel 'Grinding' Away

February 4th 2010
The tunnel is 5,757.2 meters long at an elevation below the surface of 89 meters.
There is no tunnel over-break. TBM averaging 18.5 meters per day

The Concrete Invert Bridge is at 3,850 meters

The Restoration Carrier: Grinding is at 1,040 meters
Shotcrete is at 800 meters

Have you ever noticed that nobody else is reporting on this? How can that be? Are they so sick of the toyota-like cover-ups, that they just flee from this? Can everybody sense that they are hiding things?

Anyway the main TBM has it's accelerator stuck and is zooming away full speed. But what else is on the critical path? Yes, the bizarre Restoration Carrier contraption! I believe this concept is new to the tunneling world, and they are going quite slowly. They have been stuck at around 7-800 m for some time now.

And now they have added something new - 'grinding'. What is that? They are grinding away the existing shotcrete? To make the new stuff stick better?

I have a vision of them at this contraption, staring ahead at the major overbreak, and scratching their heads. The previous rock-fall showed a dangerous tendency to 'unzip', much like a fault unzips for an earthquake. Are they actually thinking that this is certain death? Will they take the plunge into unknown waters? I shall wait for the next report.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Linux- Restoring old prints

I've been scanning the old prints, and I've never been happy. First off, I had this stupid lexmark scanner that only works with xp, and I had to bounce it up and down to my linux computer. I now bought an Epson V300, which works directly with Linux. This is a beautiful thing, with a backlight slide scanner, and usb 2.0, for very fast scanning.

Prints fade over time, and lose certain colours. I scan them at 600 px/inch, which gives me 10 megapixel pictures, and something to work with. I use Gimp to process. I think the prints really are 200 dots/inch, so they come out fuzzy. I use the unsharp mask, on standard settings to really sharpen them up.

I'm mildly colour-blind, so I want an automatic process. I use the auto white balance to correct the general shift of the fade, and then I use auto colour enhance to pump up the colours. I save it all as jpg.

This is a 20 year old print of #2. I've cut it down to web resolution. If I can find my slides, I'll look at them as well.

ps. I bought a reconditioned Epson v300 from their site. It is absolutely brand new, at half the price! Those California companies probably use it for 10 minutes before they double in size, and get the monster scanners!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Joy of the Internet

I find myself with absolutely nothing to write about, so let's get down to utter trivialities. Better than my wife's favourite show - Biggest Loser ----GAD!

Look what came to the door!

That's right! A Frites Geschnoosher! Always wanted one of these! And now I can make that famous dish - Southern Baptist Child-Snatcher Orange Fries!

I just went to the door for another delivery, a scanner that actually works with Linux! Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Meddling Dweebs Destroy Canada


(article on piss-poor Canadian innovation)

This is very true: I had to leave the country to get my hands on serious budget to run innovative projects. I have now been out of Canada for over a decade and am making nice money and have won many awards. All of this could have been to Canada's benefit, but to be blunt: the country is deeply lame and has been taken over by lamos: risk-averse dweebs in Dockers. It is why all the cool innovation comes from other countries.

I would only go back if some serious cash was on offer and a promise: no meddling dweebs please!

My whole life I've dealt with meddling dweebs! They really are destroying the place. When I first started at the old company, we had dweeb shelter, powerful people who could straddle both worlds, and use the nastiest Machiavellian techniques to get money and protect their people. Then these people were destroyed by modern technology, which allowed dweebs to control every aspect of your life! Now, you can't hide anywhere!

For example, I know a local technology firm that has just been bought out by a giant dweeb-mill. The tentacles of control creeping out are unbelievable. Even when all the smart people jump, where can they go?

More Underground Works for Ottawa


This is a year of big promises for Ottawa, in the underground department. Most older cities have the problem that their sewage is combined. That is, the storm sewers flow into the sanitary system. When there is a big rain, all the 'crap' (literally!) is washed out into the river.

Toronto had that problem, and it contaminated the beaches every year. They are into a big program of separating the two sewage systems. Chicago decided to install the giant TARP system, which uses huge underground chambers to store storm outflow for later processing. Ottawa has decided to go for this method, but it's not as bad for Ottawa, since heavy rains mean heavy river flow.

Anyway, according to the comments, this could all be hot air! I think their little transit tunnel will be nearly impossible, but large rock chambers take that further down the tail of the probability distribution.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Great Lakes Have Always Been There

I'm still working on my great lakes knol, although it is not a happy journey.

The Great Lakes look like ice lobes, and so they have always been explained as ice lobes.

The ice advances are a unique phenomenon, in that they totally erase all that has gone before. So, one can say that the Great Lakes were born only after the retreat of the last glaciation, simply because that's all we have!

But to apply a bit more intelligence to the problem, we have to conduct an Einsteinian thought experiment. What if the Great Lakes didn't give a hoot about glaciation? What if temperate glaciers can only do a 'wash and wax' to the land, and are not the massive steel bulldozers they are imagined to be?

Before glaciation, we had a hundred million years of everyday erosion, after the last great split of the continents. We can imagine what the land looked like before the first ice cube, and for that we take the geological map.

I'm simply going to take a huge bite out of every soft, erodible rock there is. Oh look! I get the Great Lakes!

Now, I find a bedrock topography map.

Oh look, the soft crap has been worn away, by 100 million years of erosion, and not the stupid ice sheets!

Finally, if the Great Lakes were scooped out by giant ice bulldozers, then we would expect a great hunk of dirt specifically at the end of each lake, but that doesn't happen, the dirt is evenly spread, and it really isn't that much. Something like an inch or two polished off the top of the whole glaciated area.

Oh, and I found this picture doing this.

I love it! This is the stuff they are going to use for our nuclear waste up a Bruce!

Jobs and the Maxi-Pad


Ok, here's where I venture into things I know nothing about, just to improve the quality of my ads. :) My only experience are my ridiculously wired university kids, and my years of Linux experience.

Jobs is of course reacting to the release of Google's Nexus One, which has apparently angered him by being fairly cool, and by actually having a decent reception - unlike a certain iPad.

All I'm saying is that I just love this stuff. Could Jobs be going the way of all aging brains? (ie. holding on too long). Will the good citizens of Toronto be walking in front of streetcars while texting on this thing? I think the lack of multi-tasking will kill it, because with that screen real estate, my kids would be wanting to watch 24, while looking up Wikipedia, and texting their friends that the show made a factual error, all while attending a lecture!

On again, off again nuclear is on again


At the same time, Obama's energy secretary Steven Chu announced the appointment of a new commission on nuclear waste, hinting that at least some waste might be re-used as fuel in the future rather than being put into long-term storage.

Ah, just as we reported that even crazy Texas was faltering, along comes this new push. No more worries about waste, the official line is that it will magically disappear.