Friday, December 31, 2010

Western Quebec Seismic Zone Part 3

The geology up there is really interesting.  I always thought the most important thing was the failed rift.  This happened when there was an earlier opening of the Atlantic ancestors (Iapetus).  Remember that this ocean has opened and closed like a toilet seat over the billions of years.  But that was 650 million years ago, and this hotspot thing was more than 100 million years ago.  I really studied this stuff, but now I realize that there are a lot  of fractures, and none of this stuff matters.

Here's a cute graphic.

I just threw that in because it's cute!  I've come to realize (My Theory, and My Theory Alone) that the important thing is water, and/or a forcing function.  All the rock is fractured and on the verge of failure, due to major tectonic forces.  So if you inject shale-gas water, you get an earthquake (Yeah Indiana!).  In WQ there is a major forcing function of the last glacial bounce-back.  It's like a dimple you make with your thumb on a cheap plastic ball.  It takes a while to come out, and then there's that last pop.  WQ is undergoing the last pop!

The end.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Niagara Tunnel Non-Update

Here is the most mundane statement yet:  "The Niagara Tunnel, now 4 years late, and a couple of billion over, model for future nuclear plants, does not appear to be alive yet.  It was supposed to roar to life on Dec. 27, but we have not received any signal."

But that's ok!  Sometimes these things take a little time, and a little bit more money.....  :)

Indiana Earthquake

I just threw this in because it is in the most seismically dead area in the world!  But it's right next to Gas City, so I wonder what they're doing there....

Western Quebec Seismic Zone Part 2

I remember when I first joined the old company and was looking into earthquakes.  They were just coming out with the (horrendously old) Darlington design basis earthquake (DBE).  WQ was the major contributor of seismic hazard for the plant.  We now know that the major contributor is the Hamilton Fault (my theory).

WQ is somewhat weird in that it has a very steep b-curve, which means it is fractally 'crunchy'.  It has a lot of M5 and under quakes, and very little major seismicity.  You have the Cornwall and Temi earthquakes at both extremes.  It's my opinion that the zone is extremely fractured, and there are good physics reasons why it can't go big.

This paper pushes the fact that the area over-rode a hotspot, which zipped down from the north, and formed all those anomalous 'mounts' like Mt. Royal in Montreal.

-to be continued

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Western Quebec Seismic Zone Part 1

Well, the only local earthquake this Christmas happened in Quebec and nobody even felt it.  It was on all the news just because it was reported by the seismometers.  Jeez, those reporters are scraping the bottom!

But it got me going on a new series!  Yeah!

I do these bad screen scans to save me from the nasties!

Ok, now that I've declared the series, I've got to go and think about it.  :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Niagara Tunnel - Main Beam Cracks for Christmas

A 5.1 cm (2 inch) crack appeared at the top of the main beam (center spine support) of the TBM resulting in the immediate stoppage of mining. The main beam supports the TBM cutterhead, grippers and major hydraulics. In order to repair this crack, four 200 ton jacks have been utilized to lift the sections at the front of the crack and the rear of the crack in order to align the beam before it can be welded. 

Ernst Gschnitzer, Project Manager has said "she (the TBM ) has a crack in the Main Beam that we need to repair. After 9,107 meters of mainly difficult ground and more than 6,000 hours, we think she is just getting older and suffering from some correlated disease. We would have had to do some last repair anyway prior to the last reach of tunnel. Including these maintenance and repair works, we expect her back in service by December 27."

Well, I had a nice Christmas, no big killer earthquakes around the world.  Everybody got nifty toys, and I got some top-rack wine to compensate for nasty Google freezing me out.  :)

That's a heck of a load for that weld to hold!  Reminds me of try to glue things under a lot of stress.  It never works!  This machine expected a nice romp in the park, through soft shale, most of the trip.  But the shale proved to be a trap, and they had to move up into the very tough dolomite.  I'll bet if you did a scan on that steel you would find it riddled with fatigue cracks.  Still, we hope the weld holds, and doesn't crack immediately right beside it, which is what I would expect.  But I'm in a Christmas mood, and even if the whole beam just disintegrates, they can just inject another secret billion!  :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Merry Geofish Christmas

Xerox Family Letter

Yeah, nothing big going on!  I wish a merry earthquake-free Christmas to all.  My readership is going off on vacation, and I'm hopelessly busy getting the house ready for kids and all their various tag-alongs.

The Dog is fine, as well as the squirrels in the front tree.

This year saw the blog make fun of a lot of things, but the big readership was on all the earthquakes this year.  We had our very own Ontario earthquake, which I didn't feel while having a beer, sunning myself outside.  I can't remember all the earthquakes, since I never remember anything I write.  Thank God for all those archives!

So, I'm signing off for the holidays, and may the Great Toronto Earthquake hold off for a while.   :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Good Geology - Bruce Deep Waste Thingie Goes Ahead


I was looking up the horrible Darlington Env. Ass. and I found that there has been some action on the Bruce Deep Waste Hole.  As we recall from my previous work, this is situated right in the Worst Rock in the World, right on top of the Grenville Front Fault.  However, they actually found a layer of limestone that seems to have resisted the tendency to turn into ratshit by all the tectonic forces involved.

Thus, we have these marvelous documents concentrating on this layer, and some are quite recent.  I especially like how they are going to deal with the horribly saline water by dumping it into a pond.  No mention of trainloads of grout with the attendant caustic grout water.  Anyway, this is better than Wikileaks, except that it's all open, but couched in obscurity.

Note that the only people looking at all this fluff are the poor minions under the thumb of the Master Toadie appointed by Harper.  I'm sure they are very limited in what they can say.

Friday, December 17, 2010

California Earthquake Radar


Hot in the earthquake news today is a presentation which shows how an Easter earthquake is still shoving dirt around in California.

Here we have a messy picture showing the motion.  It's a dog's breakfast of motion in all directions.  In the earthquake, some ground moved the opposite direction from the main fault.  This can be expected at various gaps.  The news says some gaps of over 7 miles were 'jumped'.

I don't know that this takes us anywhere, but it shows things are terribly complex.  From a map of motions, I wouldn't dare consider where the next earthquake will take place.  Is it in the zones of no motion, lots of motion, weird motion???  My thoughts are that the rock down there is just a big sandpile of broken rock, and you can't get much from the surface geology.

Earthquake on Greek Islands

This is a clear case where a beautiful setting is directly related to earthquakes.  In fact, all the real scenic places of the world have something to do with earthquakes, and without them it would all be as boring as Pt. Hope!

So there's this quake, buried in the historical seismicity!  But we can see there have been a lot of big quakes.

It's very interesting that these islands are being pulled apart, so that we have normal (extension) faulting.

The whole landscape pulls apart and leaves these beautiful islands, with one side steep and one side shallow sloped.  Now, there have been some huge earthquakes here, and I wonder if you can get supershear with normal faulting.  Instead of a 'Fist of God', you would get the 'Yank of God'.  The main pulse would be tension instead of compression, but I don't think it would make much difference at the surface!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One AECL Bidder Melting


Oh, I had bad impulses when thinking of a headline!  Harper wants to sell to somebody with big bucks, like the Japanese bought out Westinghouse, but there's nobody left!  Not even the Russian Mafia, and other such groups are becoming less interested.  :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

AECL Attracts Buyers with no Money


I'm not saying anything on this, but this is more fun to watch than a bunch Swedish Law Weasels!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Arkansas: Earthquakes and Disposal Continue


Quite interesting.  I just looked up the latest earthquakes, and there were a lot of Arkansas earthquakes.  Apparently they inject to 12,000 feet all around there.  As well, I remember the big Enola swarm in 1982, with 15,000 earthquakes.  These things happen...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Earthquake Building Code Principles Becoming Irrelevant


I've always been in conflict with our sappy building codes.  Basically, they've operated on a 'No Pancake' principle since the beginning of time.  Even so, the old boys club constantly fights upgrades to these codes, citing that the past is good enough.

But in the East, we aren't going to have pancaking, so it makes the codes useless.  We are going to have devastating economic damage, when all these lightweight buildings become unusable.  The insurance companies don't like this, especially after they were hosed by NZ!

Structural engineers who design cold-formed-steel buildings need more information about how the material will perform during earthquakes, Schafer said, in part because of revised thinking in the construction industry. “The old approach was to just make sure the building didn’t fall down in an earthquake, even if it was no longer safe or was too badly damaged to be used afterward,” he said. “Now, we’re focusing on what you can do to bring it up to a higher level of performance to make sure that the building can still be used after an earthquake, when desired.”

Some of the motivation for this is coming from the insurance companies and business owners who are economically tied to such structures. If a critical warehouse or a major customer service center can continue to operate after an earthquake, the business owners will likely incur lower losses. “For this reason, a sturdier building can lead to lower insurance rates and provide a level of business confidence for certain owners,” Schafer said.

The payout is huge for 'business interruption'.  All the buildings I see going up are designed on ultimate strength, with not much lateral stiffness.  I am sure no attention is paid to the foundation.  What's going to happen to the insides of these things?  What about the glass cladding?  When the earthquake happens with a wind chill of 40 below (like right now!) everything is destroyed.  So, I think the insurance companies will lead this, with lower rates to sturdier construction, and to heck with the building code!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Parkfield to be Expanded


Do you know that Mr. Google won't let me directly lift this picture off a g-d-m press release?

I am now angry and won't say anything.

The Physics of the Super-Shear Earthquake Part 4

In our last episode, our heroes were about to let go the big quake.

This is the geological model.  Note the upper rock is pretty soft and crappy.

The lower rock is more like Ontario.

Now, for the show.


Look at the mess on the 15 m supershear!  The rock is shattered.  And this is where they get their 5 m/s.  At that PGV, the rock itself turns to dust.  Nothing can stand, and the whole Yuckky thing collapses.  The most damage is on the hanging wall, and that's where you'll see the highest PGV.

This is not realistic for the site.  To get supershear, you need highly stressed hard rock that has been ground smooth by previous earthquake activity.  This will be apparent by a low b-value.  For example, Haiti which goes every 300 years without a lot of small activity is such a situation.  Shattered rock like Yuck would have  a high b-value.

I believe the Hamilton fault is also primed for supershear.  As shown in the plot, you can confirm earlier activity by drilling into the hanging wall.  The rock should be shattered, with high fluid flow, and natural gas should be seeping out.  You can examine the lake sediments and look for hanging wall damage in the sediments, and natural gas pockmarks.

GUESS WHAT?   Hamilton has all that!

End of series

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Crappy Transformers Doom Vancouver


Central Vancouver is particularly vulnerable, it says, because transformers mounted on wooden poles downtown may arc and explode in a quake, sparking fires inches from commercial buildings.

"Vancouver appears to be the only major city in North America that has not relocated its electric transmission underground in the city core."

There have been many earthquakes where exploding transformers lit the night sky.  Very pretty.  :)

The Physics of the Super-Shear Earthquake Part 3

We've gone through the reasonable assumptions of the next San Andreas earthquake, that's what those folks burning supercomputer oil are doing.  Now, let's be unreasonable...

Why?  Let's digress....   I've been in the seismic nuclear biz for 30 years.  During that time, we always asked the question - "What sort of ground motions are we going to get?".  This has been answered using Uniform Hazard Spectra, which is a probabilistic way to get these answers.  There is a big problem when you get to very low probabilities (which is explained in the paper), in that you are essentially starting to divide by zero.  This results in huge, unrealistic accelerations, etc.  We ran into that with the Dam Safety program, where we had to anchor down concrete gravity dams!  (rather Quebecish that).

So, these guys had the bright idea of determining the physical limits of ground motion, which is something I have advocated over the years.

But it didn't really work here!  Yucky Mt. is the most ridiculous site ever, riddled with faults.  Just that it's in the desert, right beside all these giant nuclear bomb holes, so who gives a hoot?

The researchers devised a numerical model of a fault that made anything realistic look like a damp squib.  They stressed up a thrust fault to the max, set the critical displacement to a tiny value, and made the dynamic friction drop to zero.  Then they let it go!

-to be continued.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Physics of the Super-Shear Earthquake Part 2

Now, consider the average fault rupture exactly like setting up a dominoes fall.

It is quite difficult to set things up so that you tip one, and they all go.  When I was a kid, quite often I would have a big one set up, and then OOOPS!  Very frustrating.  For faults, the critical parameters are Critical Displacement (dc), and stress drop.  The dc is the distance the fault has to slide to shear off those last adhesion points and go into dynamic friction.  The stress drop measures how much that fault friction drops.  In dominoes, these things are set by the geometry of the pieces.

A normal earthquake has a high dc, probably over a metre.  For a rupture, the whole fault has to be set up so that there is a high stress drop, and the dc is reachable by the propagating S wave.  The P wave zooms on ahead, and is ignored.  As the rupture starts, the first stress drop goes into seismic energy, which has to be sufficient.  The wave goes ahead, and applies a force to create displacement.  More seismic energy is liberated as the dominoes fall.  These earthquakes are usually bad enough.

Now we come to this delicious paper.

Sad old Yucca Mountain!  But they put a lot of money into it.  Next episode we'll see what we got.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Physics of the Super-Shear Earthquake

Long time readers will know that I've gone on and on about super-shear or high PGV earthquakes.  I have also called them 'Fist of God' or 'punching' earthquakes.  There have been a lot under cities which were smashed by the ground motions.  Armenia, Kobe, and Haiti may be some.

The amount of seismic damage from a fault rupture depends totally on the velocity of the rupture front, which in turn depends on other things.  I was quite amazed to find a great variety in this.  You can have extremely slow ruptures, such as happens yearly (or so) under BC.  You can have 'tsunami quakes' where the rupture front picks up a bit, enough to cause a tsunami, but no felt motions.  This can be quite deadly!

Your average earthquake has a rupture front that zooms along at the speed of the S wave.  As we recall from our Wikipedia reading, there are the two main seismic waves - S and P.  The Primary wave arrives first because it is a straight compressive wave, like sound waves.  When I felt my only earthquake, the day before I got married, the P waves made the brother-in-law's huge collection of glass airline bottles buzz like an angry rattlesnake!  That's the thing about P waves, the amplitude and induced strain (damage) is very small.  Then came the S waves which shook the whole house!  These are always larger amplitude shear waves, they have high PGV and are responsible for 90% of the damage in an earthquake.

I still get my electronic copy of the BSSA, and will spill an important paper which is hiding behind the paywall, even though Hilary might get mad at me!  :)

-to be continued.

WikiLeaks Hosted Here

No, I just put that up for chaff.  This whole thing has thrown me into a tizzy, and that's why I'm not writing.  The US overreaction scares me.  Now you can find WikiLeaks by doing a search and going to an unnamed mirror site.  Imagine a Swedish Three-Way being rape, and Interpol warrants 'for questioning'.  That's a lot of corruption there.

Normally I wouldn't want to have anything to do with this.  I get my diplomatic news through the Economist.  Reading the cables is like diplomatic porn, you get a sleazy feeling, but it was interesting that Hezbollah has laid fiber to every remote goat village, something that Canada can't do.

So, here I am, a quivering mass.  At least Australia has backed down on the personal attacks, somehow I feel vulnerable as an inconvenient blogger.  And WL is getting more shrill with the attacks on them.  I downloaded the whole dataset, along with the 'insurance bomb', but I don't intend to do anything with it -- too boring!

Hopefully I'll get out of this blog-depression soon.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Canadian Massive Quake


According to the report by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, a non-profit research group established by insurance companies and dedicated to enhancing resiliency to natural disasters, Vancouver and Victoria, followed by Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal are among the most vulnerable communities in Canada.

Poooey, no mention of Toronto!

I am now going into a writing sabbatical (hiding) until there is a massive quake somewhere, since all those right-wingers want to assassinate any inconvenient bloggers.

Ontario Nuclear - Big Kanoodle About Enriched Uranium


GE Declares ACR1000 Dead

He tried to assure the crowd the company had shelved its plans to create the low enriched uranium production line and would not be bringing enriched uranium into the community anytime in the foreseeable future because there is currently no market for it in Canada.

"We have no plans on the drawing board at the moment to move forward with the production of low enriched uranium fuel because at this point in time there is no demand in Canada either now or in the foreseeable future," he said.

Well, if you have been following my blog, you would know about the ACR1000 'Big Lie' that should have been exposed on Wikileaks, but is left to me instead.  And it's all about the fuel they have to use to get that huge power density.  AECL and GE are using the term 'lightly enriched', which is equivalent to 'little bit pregnant'.

It means they are using 2% enriched fuel, instead of the US standard of 4% (I think natural is around 1% or less).  The easiest way to do this is just mix in some pure U235, or old-bomb mixed oxide into the natural uranium.  It's a great way to get rid of old bomb stuff, but there is absolutely no difference in the process and handling of 'low' vs enriched fuel.  Might as well just call it enriched fuel.

If we have our Korean Ontario Nuclear Design Corporation, and fix up the ACR1000, then we will be going to enriched fuel.  If we pick any other design, it uses enriched.  Only if we use a spruced-up Darlington will we go with natural, but we will used mixed-oxide to burn up old bomb stuff.  GE might as well relocate to Port Hope. :)

California Earthquake Symposium


But the symposium has provoked some controversy among other structural engineers who say the event is being cosponsored by companies — Miyamoto, a structural engineering company with offices on the West Coast and in Tokyo, and Sun Valley-based Tower General Contractors — with a financial interest in drumming up more business for seismic retrofit contracts. (The third cosponsor is UCLA's George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation; all three entities worked on the LAX renovation project.)

Wow, this is interesting.  Heaton and Yanev are great thinkers, and it doesn't look like money is driving them.  I thought that some of the buildings in Chile look like they got hit with a high-velocity fling.  They are probably also raising the issue of 'clean punch' M7's.  Of course, this is exactly the same attitude one would get from the old engineers if you were dumb enough to say there is a problem in Toronto!