Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cheers to the End

I think I pushed the concept of a blog way beyond its expiry date (blog flogging).  It has been amazing that Internet Social Concepts have always had a short lifespan.  I started with Usenet, got myself in tremendous trouble, and then it died under truckloads of spam.  Then I read practically every novel I would want to read.  Then came Wikipedia, until it became frozen.  I did the Knol thing (quick death!).  I've put up videos on Youtube, and had years of blogging.  The last two have died under commercial exploitation.  I never did Facebook, which was designed from the beginning to harvest privacy.

I shall wait for the next thing, with great expectations.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Here are some interesting articles in the new BSSA  that somebody else can write about.

A Revised Earthquake Chronology for the last 4,000 Years Inferred from Varve-Bounded Debris-Flow Deposits beneath an Inlet near Victoria, British Columbia 
AndrĂ©e Blais-Stevens, Garry C. Rogers, and John J. Clague 

Effects of Seismicity Models and New Ground-Motion Prediction Equations on Seismic Hazard Assessment for Four Canadian Cities 
Gail M. Atkinson and Katsuichiro Goda 

Probabilistic Liquefaction Hazard Analysis for Four Canadian Cities 
Katsuichiro Goda, Gail M. Atkinson, Jim A. Hunter, Heather Crow, and Dariush Motazedian 

Near-Field Across-Fault Seismic Ground Motions 
Douglas Dreger, Gabriel Hurtado, Anil Chopra, and Shawn Larsen 

Nonlinear Site Response in Medium Magnitude Earthquakes near Parkfield, California 
Justin L. Rubinstein 

Ground-Motion Attenuation at Short Hypocentral Distances (<30 km) near Sudbury, Ontario 
Gail M. Atkinson, Nadia Kraeva, and Karen Assatourians 


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Accelerometers - Part 3

All my troubles with early seismometers and accelerometers can be explained with this figure.

To the left is the full dynamic range of earthquakes.  You really need to record that, if you want to get anywhere new with earthquakes.  My shitty 8 bit (something like 80 db) accelerometers could only record the very top of that range.  My old 'velocity coil' seismometers could only get the very bottom.  As well as the dynamic range, we have the frequency range, and again, these instruments were very limited.

That left the middle totally uncovered!  The coil seismometers only measured some jiggly-piggly form of velocity, and could never be related to the accelerometers, which measured low-frequency acceleration as defined on the great soil basins of California.

This was a mess.  As an example, consider the 1988 Saguenay earthquake.  This triggered tons of standard clockwork accelerometers that were placed willy-nilly in buildings.  The results were all over the map, with something like a factor of 10 between the highest and lowest at equivalent distances.  Totally useless.

-next, one day, when I feel like it, but nobody really likes this series, so I may fade out....

Darlington new nuclear starts hearings


OTTAWA, Jan. 25 /CNW/ - The Joint Review Panel for the Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant project today announced further details for the public hearing scheduled to begin on March 21, 2011 in the Municipality of Clarington, Ontario and expected to continue over approximately 3 weeks.

I could have had fun with this, but they did it all for me!  It's being held in a little church called 'Hope'.......

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All India, All the Time

This past week India has discovered me!  For some reason, I'm getting a big burst of traffic from there.  I hope it wasn't my telephone cracks... ahem.  

If they want to adore me, so be it!  I love the intellectual potential of the place.  If they increase education through the internet, there can be a massive multiple of brightness.  I think there is more potential in the dissolving of their restraints (corruption, castes, poverty, etc), than in the Chinese migration from the country to the cities.

I'm sorry you don't have any money to give me, but I can go on a lecture tour about earthquakes and intellectual freedom (are they related?).  You've got earthquakes, so you can be as good as California!  I always think there is a link between intellectual vitality and the potential for total destruction....  :)

Accelerometers - Part 2

So, here I was in my abandoned spooky 1920's transformer house with real brass, and my 80's technology.  What was the greater horror?  The Technology!   The accelerometers were huge clockwork things that drifted like an old cheap watch, with connecting cables as huge as your arm.  The recorders were 8 bit tape cassette things, which were a total bitch.  The minimum trigger was as insensitive as Ricky G.!

I had a horrible time with this stuff, it had false triggers all the time, the tape recorders fouled, it was horribly sensitive to power fluctuations.  We did have a big regional earthquake, and it crapped out.  While this was going on, I installed another identical system on a remote dam.  In that case, the borehole accelerometer fizzed like a seltzer with the caustic grout water, but a few weeks later lighting put the whole thing out of its misery.  I did have this neato propane thermal generator.  I also put something in an active dam, but it got fried by the extreme power surges that one would expect near the active generators.

After a while, I got a headache thinking on how I would clean up this mess, when the old-old company decided to split up.  In the confusion, I ripped my name off the equipment and hid.  Ooops, Sorry!  My bad!

Later, I was involved in a huge plant system, using crap technology, but it was over my almost literally dead body, since I nearly buzzed out permanently over that.  They never listened to me, and it never worked.  I finally designed and installed another big plant system which still works as good as these things ever do.  I was convinced that all the building accelerometers around the world were just put in for show, since they all had a fatal flaw....

(At the same time, I was having equal disasters with seismometers, but that's another story.)


Monday, January 24, 2011

Australian Earthquakes and Floods


Queensland's largest earthquake, a magnitude 6, was recorded near Rockhampton in 1918, in the same year as the largest flood in that area.

Here we have a single point correlation, but I like it!  I'm obsessed with the role of water in the world of earthquakes.  I'm not saying anything more, but am waiting for the second point to fall!    .... or maybe not...

Ancient Permian Extinction Immediately Linked to Modern Global Warming


The Earth was already heating up at the time, suffocating its oceans because of decreasing oxygen levels, the researchers suggest.

What a story!  This is exactly what is happening now!  NOT!  As beaten to death in my earlier writings, the world was jamming all the continents together, and the oceans were boiling.  Would a thin layer of coal make a difference to a huge volcanic eruption that was feeding on deep subducted carbon-rich oceanic sediments?  Nope.

The big thermal blanket of continents baked the deep crust and all that carbon and water spewed out.  The cool climate creatures all died or diminished, and the hot-lovers came out to play.  The earth's atmosphere went high carbon, high water, high oxygen and everything was a steam bath.  The plants loved it!  Finally, the crust overbaked and started to separate again.  Thus, the end of our wonderful steam bath, and the dinos left us.

The point being that these forcing functions were billions of times greater than anything happening today.  Even the great ice ages had nothing on this.  And here we are, using this as an example of what will happen to us with a little co2.....

California Soft Storey Buildings Untouchable


Report author and SJSU engineering professor Guna Selvaduray said the survey was inspired by the Santa Clara County Emergency Managers' Association and partially funded by the Santa Clara County Emergency Preparedness Council -- but that his team's executive board feared they would be exposed to litigation if the list caused property values to fall.

I love the whole story about soft stories!  :)   You see 'spider legs' in Toronto all the time.  Basically these buildings need parking to survive in California, and they sometimes just cut out the first storey and use whispy-thin columns to support the building.  Naturally, they don't do diddly squat when an earthquake comes around, and they collapse on the cars.  Hopefully the rest of the building stands up, but no guarantees!

Anyway, nobody can gawk and point at these things because the value will go down, and they can sue.  We need Wikileaks!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Accelerometers - Part 1

I was asked in an email about the use of cheap mems accelerometers to monitor buildings.  As everybody knows, I don't do any thinking privately, but rather, I always spill my guts on the blog.

For inspiration, I draw on this neato article on using mems for earthquake monitoring.  I was involved with accelerometers from the beginning of my career, and it has always been generally disastrous.

In the early days of the old company we had lots of money to waste, and I was fascinated by seismic monitoring, and particularly borehole accelerometers.  I had written extensively about soil amplifications, and knew they were orders of magnitude beyond the standard assumptions.  Thus, our nuclear plants were being penalized by being situated on rock.  Since I knew this was a billion dollar baby, why not do some monitoring?  In the old company I knew it was as much trouble to get a million dollars as to get a new pencil, so I went for it.

My first installation was in the old Oshawa transformer building.  This was an abandoned building that was so saturated in pcb's that they didn't know what to do with it (I wonder what they did do with it?).  I loved it!  It was like a spooky movie set!  My basic idea was to put in a borehole accelerometer, and one on the surface.  When an earthquake came, I would measure the difference.  Such are the dreams of men!

-to be continued.

Friday, January 21, 2011

If Ontario is willing to pour money into Quebec, AECL can be saved


The federal government wants a firm commitment from Ontario to purchase new reactors from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. as part of Ottawa’s effort to sell the money-losing nuclear company to Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin Group.

This is one of my weirder stories.  I regularly take Cindy the Wonder Dog to this wonderful old couple in the neighbourhood.  There, she does her cute thing, and tail wagging, and delights the lady, who has medical troubles.  The old guy is an engineer, who has worked everywhere, but started in Quebec.

When we were talking about the current AECL developments, he was saying how Quebec used to be full of Anglo engineering companies.  But all the local employees of these companies were nationalists and really worked for the local clients.  They worked side deals, and suddenly all of them became independents and worked for Hydro Quebec.  HQ finally finally finished off every one of these anglo companies by using SNCL as the sole hiring agent for James Bay, while giving them a huge markup for doing essentially nothing.

Who knows if this is accurate?  (I certainly believe it), but the results speak for themselves.  Quebec companies absorb all the anglo losers, who may be losers because of a lack of federal and Q business. Look at the aircraft business!  And I have knowledge of other anglo businesses in Q, who's local employees do not appear to work for them.  :)

Well, I'm sure that there are lots of people who think this big black hole is just fine.  And to protect myself, I'll say It's Absolutely Peachy!  SNCL thinks this is in the bag because they are bidding on nuclear projects partnered with an Italian company.  I'm sure they'll get along fine.  :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Neato Black Lava


Geology article about the African rift.  It doesn't have to become ocean, Iceland is right on a rift.

On a windy day, nobody wants the power


Within the next two years, the conditions that produced the bonus New Year’s power could crop up about one day in every seven, according to an analysis by the agency that runs Ontario’s power market.
A big reason: about 5,000 megawatts of wind powered generation is due to be connected to the Ontario grid in the next few years, producing surges of power that are more than the province needs.

No comment on this one.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Perils of a Tiny Nuclear Company


For instance, the SEC alleges the scheme included having Ransom and an Idaho lawyer, Brian Webb, sell their AEHI stock for the benefit of Gillispie.
But Gillispie contends proceeds from those stock sales were intended for bona fide transactions, with Webb buying Gillispie's 2007 Lexus Hybrid and Ransom repaying $200,000 to Gillispie for two loans and for property he bought for Ransom's sister, whose house had been destroyed in a fire.

We should be kind to tiny nuclear companies.  We should remember that when the only bidders left for AECL work out of their cars!  Why can't they finance a multi-billion dollar plant?  I'm sure Ontario is willing to buy from anybody who says he'll save 17,000 jobs, right after he gets back from Bermuda!

I think it's time for an Open Source Nuclear Plant.  :)


So, I got a note right now from an eager young person on whether I ever heard of Nanometrics.  Hell ya!  I made that company!  Now that I'm old and retired, with a hugely successful blog :), I don't even get a Christmas card.  They are one of my 2 most favourite Canadian companies (Lovat was bought out by a big American concern), but they are cheap!  (probably Scottish roots!).  Yes, I believe a got a free beer once.

I want everybody to click on their site once, and then don't look at their stuff!  Ha, a Christmas card from Crazy Harold!

As always I can be bought.  A little boost to my wine list, I could put on an ad, I could be a shill, I could do a famous youtube video of their dreary Kanata office.  Any I don't want any of that Kanata wine -- it's hogswill!

Well, anyway, they are trying to pick my brain for free, but I don't have any interest in what they are developing, which is probably very neat, but don't look at it!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Big Earthquake in Pakistan

This just in.  Should be of major impact.  Might even be a super-shear thrust in those valleys.

Acid Still Eats AECL Chalk River NRU Isotope Reactor


The conditions which led to a 15-month shutdown of the NRU reactor at Chalk River still exist.
But Atomic Energy of Canada is making progress in reducing the risk of further corrosion to the reactor vessel, according to a report by Canada's nuclear regulator.

This is a cute gem.  Anyway, it appears that the problem was really bad, and now it's only moderately so.  It's still a Seismic Death Trap, but who listens to me?

Monday, January 17, 2011

AECL Blame Slinging


OTTAWA — The Harper government's sputtering efforts to sell the Candu division of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. have descended into finger-pointing, with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty blaming Ontario for shelving its plans to build new nuclear-power units and Ontario's energy minister condemning those remarks as "hypocritical."

Yeah!  I think that's all we're going to get from now on.  Endless finger pointing ad infie.

Kobe Earthquake - 16 Years Old


Well, my biggest article to date is about this earthquake.  I find it sad that it still presents social issues.  It doesn't bode well for all the other earthquake-shattered zones of the world, if the richest country ever hasn't totally patched things up.

They should have just given money like NZ so that everybody can just pack up and find some cheap lowland in Brisbane!  :)

California - Earthquakes are not Enough


SACRAMENTO — California faces the risk not just of devastating earthquakes but also of a catastrophic storm that could tear at the coasts, inundate the Central Valley and cause four to five times as much economic damage as a large quake, scientists and emergency planners warn.

Lucy Jones is into floods now!  So even the Flood Gods have smiled upon Cal. for the last 150 years.  Next they'll find all the other plagues have left them alone for their Golden Age.

Of course, as a Canadian I would say:  You're really goin' to pay for it now, eh?  But I won't.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oklahoma Earthquake - Cute Seismicity

Another earthquake in this cluster.  It's so cute and small!  They must be doing injection.  That's the worst thing about injection, you just can't ask a simple question and get a simple answer.  There are so many oil companies, and so many gov't agencies.  You need a single map of injection sites, depths, and time history of volume of injection.  Then you might have a clue.

Nobody Wants AECL


The Conservative government’s efforts to sell off Canada’s nuclear power agency secretly collapsed this week after the most likely buyer walked away from the negotiating table.

That's it, end of story.  The dream of finding a deep-pockets buyer for the black hole has ended.  I wonder what will happen now.  Will the unions continue to say that this tarnished heap is a 'Crown Jewel'?  What are the consequences if they just declared bankruptcy?

Most likely it will just continue forever as a gov't supported 'Zombie Corporation', like those in the world which can't shut down because of all the people to be let go.  It then becomes the world's most expensive welfare system.

What will poor Ontario do?  I'm sure they'll maintain the fiction that the zombie is alive until after the election.  The Liberals want to show that they are doing something, and the Conservatives want to show that they will be more aggressive in building nuclear, but don't want the flack of having to buy from Korea!

So here's to zombies!  Long may they live!

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Zealand Earthquake Insurance Money Down a Black Hole


I find the concept interesting.  What if everybody just takes the money and never repairs anything?  It's not like regular fire insurance where they rebuild your house.  This is a government thing!  I can now imagine 4 billion dollars going there..... and nothing!  Of course, for those defenders of NZ insurance morality, there is no proof yet.   :)

Telemarketing Review

I'm at home a lot, so I get a deluge of the annoying phone calls.  Most of the time I don't answer, and they don't bother with the machine.  So here's my current list on how to deal with them.

Don't be afraid to be rude!  I just hang up as soon as I realize what is happening.  I figure that somebody real would call back, assuming that there was a problem with the phone line.  :)

Indications of something wrong:

A dead delay in connecting.  If you have to say 'Hello' twice hang up, you are being sucked to India!  Remember that Bell, etc, want to be as cheap as possible.  They have automatic war dialers making the call, and recognize a genuine greeting, then they switch to India.  Nearly all my problem calls are from India.

Cross-talk and noise.  They use really cheap talent.  If you hear lots of voices, or funny noises, hang up.

Whiny male Indian voice - hang up.

Too loud, too soft - hang up.

Now, if you are successful, things will taper down, until the Phone-Sex Lady calls you.  This is a trained vocal artist who probably charges by the second.  She says "Sorry, wrong number" ,you are stunned for a second, and she is gone before you can say "Can't you talk to me some more?".  She just reestablishes that you answer the phone, and suddenly you get a ton of the cheap calls again.  If she was selling something, I'd listen, but I probably couldn't afford it.  :)

Technology improves, and they are getting better with the switching delays.  So far, I haven't hung up on the wife yet, but it's getting close!

BC Does the Shakeout Thing


BC has organized a big earthquake drill, using the California model.  I can't figure out who this BC earthquake society is, but it involves the insurance companies.  Looks like no involvement from the government.

Ah, we can dream  ....  The Great GTA Shakeout.  Write all your letters in advance complaining about how the local agencies didn't do anything.  Prepare general bitching,  name calling and scapegoat chasing.  The other side prepares a long list for 'Stupidity Defence'  -- nobody told us anything, we didn't bother looking, etc.  :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Earthquakes Define Corruption


Corruption kills, according to a report that says bribes and covert cost-cutting in the construction industry are fuelling the growing death toll of earthquakes.

The study, published Wednesday to coincide with the anniversary of Haiti's devastating quake, "found that corrupt societies have the largest death tolls from earthquakes."

I find some delicious irony here.  In the boring interpretation, it has been found (in hindsight) that all the buildings tumbled down because of corruption (French Cheesy Concrete, etc).  Earthquakes have a tendency to expose all the things swept under the carpet and covered by the wallpaper.

Now, this leaves the probability of entire corrupt cities which haven't yet been yanked by an earthquake!  What if there is an earthquake, and there is a ridiculous amount of damage for the ground motions.  Does this define corruption?  (You know whom I'm talking about!).

What if a known corrupt city (with good food) is hanging around waiting for an earthquake?  Can we estimate the probable damage by looking at the financial health of the local mafia?  These are important issues that should be studied!  :)

California Earthquakes - San Andreas Gets Ready to Rumble!

More earthquakes down in Facebook land!  Actually, there's no correlation between a cluster of these little babes, and the chance of The Big One (whatever that means).  But really, isn't there something morbidly satisfying about the concept of a big earthquake in la-la land?  I only get that way when I'm pushing through snow that's up to my hips, but really, Paris Hilton's had enough good times.  Let's get down to reality!  :)

Oh well, back to snow shoveling......

Forest of Nuclear Waste Casks


As a national panel studies permanent solutions to nuclear waste disposal, the operators of Plant Vogtle are planning new facilities that could store waste safely in Burke County for more than a century.

More going up.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Carbon Dioxide Leaks Out


A Saskatchewan farm couple says greenhouse gases that were supposed to be stored permanently underground are leaking out, killing animals and sending groundwater foaming to the surface like shaken-up soda pop.

Cameron and Jane Kerr, who own land above the Weyburn oilfield in eastern Saskatchewan, have released a consultant's report that claims to link high concentrations of carbon dioxide in their soil to gas injected underground every day.

Wow!  Attack of the Killer Soda Pop!  I always thought that co2 forms a nice acid which eats its way though anything.  I can't imagine that there is any safe way to inject that stuff, since the injection hole itself forms a path out.  Any we know how well the industry can grout a borehole!

Pt. Lepreau Needs a Non-Operating Licence


It strikes my funny bone that Pt. Lepreau needs a 1 year operating licence extension, when it probably won't even be operating then!  Even with that, there is a big fuss over venue.  I'm just imagining all those busy beavers, polishing those tubes by hand.  Well, good luck to all of them...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

San Jose California Earthquake

California's fun in that they don't really notice these things.  I just perked up because I read that Facebook was going to take over the old Sun campus (poor Sun!), and it's in the absolutely worse sagpond sludge in the world.  I hope they used piles!

Antarctic Geology


Neat geology article.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Old Seismic Data Yields Treasures


This is exactly like one of my stories!  They had a ton of moon quake seismic records and couldn't deal with it in the 70's.  Enter Moore's Law, and now they can process it.  Very neat.

My story was the same.  They had a ton of seismic data on the great lakes from previous unsuccessful oil exploration.  Modern computers processed it and revealed the deep megathrust geology beneath Ontario.  We never processed Lake Huron, we left that for the Bruce deep nuclear waste thingie to completely ignore!  Is that criminal?  No, stupidity is always a valid defense.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Quebec Shale Gas Leaks


Probably no worse than your average landfill.  I'd love to see them inject the brine on the margins of Charlevoix. Wow, they could set the new record for an induced earthquake!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

China Gooses the AP1000


This is interesting news.  China is going to pimp up the AP1000 to 1400 mw.  (maybe leave off some safety stuff)  This is a dream reactor Ontario could go after!  Even though it's not designed, it's probably further ahead than the ACR1000!  Still, it doesn't reach the astonishing power density of the AECL design, even the Chinese aren't that adventurous!  Maybe in about 20 years the rest of the world will catch up to the Imaginarium of Dr. AECL.

Rusty River Barrel Nuclear Waste Now at 120 Years


BRATTLEBORO -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has written a revision of the Waste Confidence Decision which could allow spent fuel and high-level waste to be stored at nuclear facilities for more than 120 years.

I'm amazed.  I thought they would wait their 60 years before declaring these good for another 60 years, and here they do it right away!  It's like the Disney copyright laws!  At this rate they'll never need a nuclear storage site!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Summary Jan 04, 2011

This is what I write when there is absolutely nothing going on.  Also, it gives me the opportunity to write 2011!

-lots of small earthquakes everywhere.  I always surprised that nobody checks for injection sites.  One of those long horizontal shale gas holes produces millions of gallons of toxic water, and they always inject this at 12,000 ft or so.  I'm expecting lots more M4-5's in the middle of nowhere.

-I'm buying a new Android phone for a kid, on the internet, but's it's killing me that nobody was working this past week!  Ah well, I never work.....

-Lot's to look forward to this year
-I expect the Niagara Tunnel machine to totally turn to dust 100 m from the end!
-NRU will spring another leak
-Bruce Nuclear Waste thingie will finally come out of hiding.
-we'll have another big earthquake somewhere in the world   :)
-earthquake insurance will become a lot more expensive.
-they won't get anywhere with new nuclear in Ontario

Enough of that!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chile M7.1

Just got this on the email alert, haven't looked at the news, but it looks like trouble.  Probably an edge effect of the big one.  Very shallow.