Wednesday, August 31, 2011

US Public Schools Can't Spell After Earthquake


All kidding aside, there is a concern with the Virginia earthquake aftershocks, and there are interesting pictures here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Susan Hough writes


This is so good I didn't even read it all!

Christchurch, NZ earthquake - $4 billion just a drop in the bucket


I think that anybody who was smart just took the money and zoomed to Australia.  Really, how can you rebuild on soup, knowing that these earthquakes can't be over.  An M6 is nothing for this area.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Design basis exceeded for North Anna nuclear plant


That's an absolute "For Sure".  When an M5 happened near the Perry nuclear plant, the design basis was exceeded, based on the crappy definition.  The horrible scratch plates went through the roof, as they will be found to have done for this plant.  Had they accelerometers, I'm sure they would have recorded a spike of over 30% g, which is what happened at Perry.

Now they will probably be shut down for quite a few months.  Now, had they decent accelerometers, they could have derived a PGV of a few cm/s and displacements in the mm's.  The old seismic models (lumps on a stick) were probably showing meters of displacement at the design basis.  Of course, normally I would say that any PGV under 10 cm/s must be dismissed as trivial, but that was before Japan....  I don't really know what the 'trivial' level is now.

The essence of the induced earthquake

Look up 'Induced earthquake', and you get the Wikipedia version.  I didn't write it, but you can use all the references, which I always find tedious to do.

Here is my version.

Induced Earthquake

Seismicity starting in an area with no know earthquake history, once a fluid disruption has commenced.  This can be in the form of deep water injection, or a man-made lake.  The definitive proof is that the earthquakes stop after the injection has stopped.  For a dam, which cannot be stopped, detailed seismic monitoring can show a correlation between water levels and micro-seismicity.

Since the physics of earthquakes has not been adequately explored, except by a certain individual :), the argument of 'induced vs. natural' can be quite heated.  At stake is usually the 'worth' of a dam, or an entire industry.  Some would argue that even if a given earthquake were induced, the injection might only have advanced it a few years.

With a dam, which cannot be turned off, the earthquakes must continue.  As with the growth of the Arkansas injection swarm, a dam may produce larger and larger earthquakes, at a rate which exceeds the 'norm' for the area.  Some have stated the M8 in China was induced by a dam, but the detailed seismological records for this, are not available.  In the US, piss-poor recording condemns us to ignorance.

For Virginia, we can only make assumptions, since the presence of a nuclear plant has created a 'Science Shadow' over the area.

 The local geologists are all gaga about the Appalachian Cruft, but the earthquakes aren't there.  They are down in the Precambrian, of which little is known.  Since this earthquake had an identical, distorted felt area like every other earthquake in the east, we will assume a standard cause.  That is, it was located on a gently dipping megathrust, which have been demonstrated under Toronto.

The Dam Lake provides the water to activate this zone, since it appears to be well off the old central seismic zone.  Aftershocks define the fault plane. The hanging wall is active, the footwall is not.

A new set of aftershocks is jiggling the rock just at the tip of the hanging wall.  This is unusual and may indicate new fluids entering.  The fault is dipping down to the SE, but current seismic recording will never be able to define it that well.

The fault rupture has opened the rock and will allow new fluids to enter.  The aftershocks should start creeping out of the rupture plane, and set up a situation for the next stage.  An M6.5 or greater should rupture from the lake to the old seismic zone.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Virginia Earthquake - Fin

It was a wonderful earthquake, and like most eastern earthquakes before it, we learned absolutely nothing.

The aftershock sequence seems entirely normal, so I wouldn't be saying anything unless I saw the events creeping towards the old seismic zone.

Arkansas is completely dead, and out of our collective thoughts.

Nothing to learn there!  :)  

I await the next earthquake.  Where will it be?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Virginia Earthquake strong ground motion


Not much data.  13 Nuclear plants and not a scrap of instrument data!  Here it was 2 cm/s, but we don't know about the foundation amplification factor.  If there are lots of results, as in Japan, you can have a good guess by the spread, there is usually a factor of 10 difference.  Here, we don't know.

Virginia Earthquake - Official State of Emergency


Well, this is one for the books.  Does this help a bankrupt state to squeeze out more money from the feds?  That means they wouldn't like a bigger earthquake, now would they, since they mention damage from aftershocks.

My belief that the earthquake was dam-induced will only prove itself from the aftershock sequence, since, like Arkansas, nobody is willing to find real proof.  If I'm right, I expect this to be a foreshock, and if the happy people are correct, it will die away.  Right now, this shallow M6 has opened up the water channels to feed the rest of the zone, and we should see something.  :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Virginia Earthquake Induced

Ok, here is the latest aftershock sequence.

But the main Central Virginia Seismic Zone is defined as below the highway!

I was really wondering if the zone had really shot it's load, and whether we could expect something else.  But the M5.8 fault plane is very shallow and is stretched between the main zone and the big man-made lake.  Earthquakes have been induced with less.  I'm calling this an induced earthquake, caused by the damming of Lake Anna for the nuclear power station.  It doesn't really matter about the timing, or how long the lake has been there.  These things take time.  I would also say there is a good chance for more action, so those poor fellows better get some instruments there!  The hurricane should dump some good water on it to help things along.  :)

Oh well, I'm happy to sink into my obscurity if we don't have an M6 or greater there in the next 6 months.

We'd be much better off if they actually had a dense seismic array there for the past 20 years.......  I'm sure that small events started from the lake and moved to the fault plane.  You'd think with a man-made lake and a nuclear plant and all.  :)

Big Snooze - Panel Approves New Darlington Nuclear Plant


Yeah!  The mystery plant is approved!  God knows what it will be, but that didn't stop them.  :)

The only thing we can put up now is a hamster-wheel Candu 6.  Boy, are they miserable for seismic!

No fracking injection sites near Virginia seismic zone


I always thought this was a natural fluid-controlled mechanism, like Toronto and others.  These things have been going on for millions of years.  But oh, what a great site for fluid injection!  :)  Could they have 'pumped' it up to an M6.5?  Those spoil-sports in Arkansas stopped things before they could get truly out of hand.  :(

Oh well, these sites are all over the place.  Like I said, if you do the numbers, we should be having a big earthquake quite often, but I think the New Madrid sequence caused a bit of a shadow.  We might be coming out of it now, and fluid injection would really take it over the top!  :)

Virginia Earthquake - Bad relays caused North Anna shutdown


They go on and on about how their system 'automatically' shut down.  Blah Blah!

When we did a seismic evaluation, we replaced all the mercury-wetted relays which are notoriously sensitive in earthquakes.  Looks like these bad relays shut them down and forced them to the notorious diesel generators.  There is some question about how many are actually needed - 1, 3, or 4.

Problems with the transformers or grid switchyards is most likely what will shut down the nuclear plants when we have our earthquake in Ontario.  The plants then face the problem of restarting or the 'Black Start' problem.

New Virginia Earthquake Aftershock

I have no faith in their location accuracy.  These are typical hanging-wall aftershocks, but I would think the trend should be more NE.  By the time they get in more instruments, it will probably be all over.  A length of 5-10 km is good for an M6.  Toronto has a length of 30 km which is good for an M7.

Virginia earthquake - fleeing buildings


A bit more fun on this.  They took the elevator to get out.  But there is a problem with fire alarms, and there should be an earthquake override.  I'm thinking they need an automatic system attached to the public address system - "We have experienced a moderate earthquake.  Please stay at your workplace until told to leave." I would set that at a PGV of 1 cm/s, which is what they probably experienced.

Of course, at 10 cm/s, there might just be a 'duck and cover' alarm.  :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ontario Geofish as an earthquake detector

These are the recent stats on my blog hits.  This is what actually alerted me to the fact that there was an earthquake.  Most unusually, all these early hits were about the Hamilton Fault.  I'm guessing that the good people of that city felt it strongly.  :)

Aftershocks define Virginia Earthquake


Ok, I am a bit happier with this earthquake.  It's right in the middle of the Central Virginia seismic zone, and probably fits right on the magnitude-frequency plot.  It's in the Precambrian basement, on a NE trending zone, just like Toronto.  It's a slightly strike-slip thrust fault with the directivity pulse going NE just like every other earthquake in the east.  The high PGV zone is entirely in the middle of nowhere, and Mineral may be on the footwall, although this is difficult to define with all the Appalachian garbage scrapped over the basement.  If you went on a hike in the woods over the 'punch' zone, you should see something.

Since this is just a single thrust fault, unlike thrust-shear system of New Madrid and Arkansas, we should only expect this one earthquake, ie. it won't have a twin.

If the geology is right, these zones should eventually evolve into a pure thrust and shear system, like New Madrid.

Eastern US Nuclear Nightmare Scenario


Nifty video.  Remember that this M6 is really nothing in terms generated PGV.  An M7+ would  cause Mark 1 nuclear meltdowns.  But really, even with that, they would be contained, as in Japan, and death statistics wouldn't rise above the obesity epidemic.  :)  On the other hand, US interior nuclear plants don't have a nice ocean to dump all the radioactivity.

Assessing earthquake damage at a nuclear plant


North Anna is an old Westinghouse design, which is probably infinitely better than a boiling water Mark 1 (Japan bo-bo!).  Nevertheless, it was shut down by loss of external power, and one backup generator failed.

When the Perry nuclear plant near Cleveland was just starting, it had a nearby M5 earthquake.  Unfortunately for them, all their mandated seismic instrumentation was brand new and actually recorded it.  It showed an acceleration spike (PGA) that exceeded the design basis.  In the US a nuclear plant must be shut down for a long time (inspections) if the design basic has been exceeded.  Perry was shut down for 6 months before they learned how to integrate the acceleration records to show a very small displacement.

After that, all nuclear plant operators were terrified and deliberately stuck bobby pins into their instruments and let them rust out.  The Perry seismic guy was let go.  They expect to start up only on the words "Didn't see nothing.".

The same thing has happened up in Canada.  Hand waving will restart the nuclear plants.

Update:  Looks like they have scratch plate data which is the oldest and most useless of seismic instrumentation.  The inspectors are going to do minute vault inspections which will take a long time.  Had they modern instrumentation, they may have recorded less than 10 cm/s, and could argue that inspections were unnecessary.

Virginia earthquake -- damage at Mineral


Now, I really don't know what to think about this earthquake.  If it was a shallow earthquake, I'm expecting some very high ground motions somewhere.  These people sound like they were hit with a 10 cm/s pulse, which I think is low.  They might all be on the footwall.  When someone goes on a hike they are bound to find places where trees were knocked down.

On the other hand, this earthquake could have been much deeper, which makes more sense to me.  The USGS has no instruments nearby and may be talking through their hat when they said it was shallow.  The felt zone is huge, and resembles the 1988 Saguenay earthquake.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Virginia earthquake damage reports

Nothing from epicenter!  Only 2 thousand people live within 30 miles, and they may all be on mountain rock, in tents?  With these things we only expect severe motion on the hanging wall, directly where the pulse hits.  Probably landslides.

But elsewhere - Article

You'd expect these things to have troubles.

Geofish volcano show actually happened


That was soooo my show!  They contacted me, and I gave great ideas, like using water up a big tube.  I could have made it more exciting.  It seems to be a bit of a bust.  Don't watch it.  :(  

No seismic instrumentation in vicinity of earthquake


Seismographs had been installed around the North Anna Power Station to detect earthquakes, but those were taken offline in the 1990s due to budget cuts, according to the state of Virginia website.

I thought as much.  This things are supposed to have interior seismic instrumentation, but I assume that suffered the same fate.  Seismometers would have had the digital needles blown off them in the vicinity, so we are looking for strong ground motion, but this is poorly calibrated.  Ideally, we would want what we have in Canada, broad range seismic instrumentation on firm ground, but ha ha!

Biggest hope for seismologists - Washington feels an earthquake

When I was active in the field, before the old company brutally smashed me :), I used to go to eastern US seismology conferences.  These were dismal affairs, since no money had been put into it for 30 years.  Anyway, the big black joke was that money would only come when Washington leaders actually felt an earthquake.  And here it is!  And there's no money left!

Well, I think it's funny.  :(

Virginia Earthquake, no news from the epicentre

Well, they are getting some felt reports, and it looks like it is quite strong in some areas.  Normally we would expect building damage (especially old brick buildings) at this level.  Probably lots of cars crushed.  It would be rare for somebody to get killed, since this is close to the 1944 Cornwall earthquake.  Nuclear plants have shut down.  Did they just notice it by their coffee cups?  By people phoning them?  We would all love to know if there were any famous Mark 1 reactors.

Did you feel the Virginia earthquake in Toronto?

That would be rare, and if you did, you are in the big shit if we have our earthquake.  Google realtime is dead, so let us know right here!

Update 1


-felt at Ontario Legislature.  That is on the deep muck of an old river which was turned into a sewer.  This is not a nice place for an earthquake.  Wonder if the big chandelier swung.

Update 2

-still no news from epicenter.  Does anybody live there?  Set off the fire alarm in spoose's building.

Virginia M5.9 Earthquake Mechanism

Looks like we have a fine mechanism here, totally unstudied.  If we had decent instrumentation, we would find that it is similar to all the other eastern mechanisms, including Charleston and Toronto.  You can find it buried in my posts somewhere.

Basically, as with the recent Arkansas attempt, there is a fluid mechanism, and these zones slowly grow from babies to full New Madrids.  I only got this by merging rock mechanics and seismicity, which is something you'll never seen done elsewhere.  But if you do a standard earthquake frequency plot, you can see that an M6 or greater has a very good chance.  It has been somewhat unusual that we haven't seen them more often, but I believe that history has shown these to happen in clusters.  There is good physics for this, since they are driven by fluids, and are very sensitive to distant earthquakes.  We should expect a return to the 1800's when these were a dime a dozen.

M6 Earthquake Hits US East Coast

Holy Crap!  This is a classic east coast earthquake, which hasn't happened in living history.  That's why nobody is prepared for it, although I would say that they are very likely.  Toronto is due for one.  I can't get the historical earthquakes up, so I don't know the mechanism.  I know for sure that it will have been very poorly studied, since the US is bankrupt for these things.  I also know that every one of the nuclear plants around there will crap out on their seismic instrumentation.  This should be a classic 10 cm/s PGV on firm ground (5 cm/s on solid rock), and up to 100 cm/s on swamp.  We will not have very many good readings from strong ground motion stations.

As usual, everybody runs from the buildings when this happens.  People!!  Falling glass may not be an issue, and I don't think they have many modern soft-story condos there.

Ontario cottage market in stasis

Well, it's been a very quiet time at the lake this summer.  I guess it's been the price of gas, or that everybody is in debt up to their eyeballs.  All the 'first generation' cottage owners are nearly dead.  At the landing I saw this crippled old man with a very fancy party boat (on pontoons).  I said "Nice party boat." and he said that it wasn't the reason he bought it, it was the only thing he could get in to!

Not just for parties!

Really, how many extra years just this buy you, if you only have boat access, like most of our lake?  So, the old neighbours are selling because they want a road-access cottage.  Turns out that the market is stalled, and there are several cottages for sale on the lake, and I've also seen quite a few deserted cottages that are probably caught up in probate.  This always happens when the sellers are looking at the past boom, and buyers are all sinking their money into Toronto condos.  :)  Don't know how long this will last.

Very old fossils


This is interesting to me because I'm trying to think of a topic for my next old folks talk, and I was settling on fossils and the origin of life.  Apparently these guys are having a massive hissy-fit on whose fossil is older!  But we know that something turned the atmosphere from methane to oxygen billions of years ago.

Can you imagine the Gorites in those days?  "This plant pollution is turning our lovely methane into oxygen!  Soon we stinky anaerobes will be ex-stink!"

What to do with abandoned nuclear reactors


Pickering will soon crap out, but why take it apart?  Look at the fun we can have!  I'm especially eyeing the vacuum building!  :)

Colorado Earthquake


Although not as destructive as an F3 tornado, you can see that there is an unusual mechanism working here.  It's all clustered at one spot, like an Arkansas injection site.  I haven't looked into it, but you can be sure that fluids are involved.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The fumes without nuclear power


My son just came back from China and said that in Beijing you can never see the sun.  I think the physics is all wacky on this co2-warming thing, but there are good reasons not to burn fossil fuel.  The solar and wind people can't do math, so sooner or later it's always back to nuclear.

But I think that option is closed to us right now because of gross stupidity.  There is something about running a nuclear plant that turns brains to mush.  I've seen it first hand.  We will only get somewhere when we are in great crisis, and the pudding-heads are swept aside.  I give that 10 years.

TVA nuclear plant approved - new wine in an old bottle


TVA said the Bellefonte plant is far above maximum probable flood level, would withstand an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and 360 mph winds. The utility's executives have said a plant review since the Japan disaster led to adding gasoline-powered generators, diesel-powered fire pumps and satellite telephones for emergency responders, among other longer-term measures.

Yeah!  Sweep out the cobwebs!  This is some bizzarro design that worked in Germany for only 3 years.  I don't know why they stopped at only M8.9 with what they know.  Why not use an even M10?

And hands up if you think this is on a rock foundation.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

US Nuclear waste disposal money sucked up in deficit


For 20 years, electricity ratepayers have been paying to underwrite the development of a solution. Their contributions, minus expenses and plus interest, stand at $25 billion.
But, as the panel tasked with charting a post-Yucca course pointed out, the money can’t be tapped easily. The reason: Congress has been banking the nuclear waste fees as taxes, example No. 446 of how lawmakers have cooked the books to make deficits look smaller.

Didn't realize that the money is all gone.  Quite amazing!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Montreal - Falling Concrete ---- Toronto - Falling Glass


I'm just mentioning this because cheap condos do not do well in earthquakes.  If you have a static problem such as crumbling concrete or falling glass, it becomes horrendously worse in an earthquake.

Thus, when we have our Great Toronto Earthquake (same odds as Japan!), then we can expect a blizzard of glass.  Somebody really should change the inclination to run out into the street during an earthquake, like they all did in the last Ontario earthquake.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Buildings abandoned as seismic money runs out


A classic thin-column concrete building.  No hope in an earthquake.  Would pancake faster than an Angry Birds slam fest.  California is like all the other Grecian-Formula States.  Illinois is cutting out all geology.

Niagara Tunnel cost gets farther away


Far from an inevitable comeuppance for Dalton McGuinty, as much of the coverage over the past couple of years has suggested, it appears the Oct. 6 election is well and truly up for grabs. What was briefly a yawning lead for Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives has, according to a new Nanos Research survey, shrunk to a few percentage points as Ontarians have begun to pay closer attention to their province’s politics.

Oh poopies!  I had hoped it would be a cakewalk for the other guy, although he is a bit of a bore on his 'family' thing.  If the libs win we'll never know the true horrendous cost of the tunnel, and the zero potential for extra energy if they don't expand the pumped storage (which they can't).  As well, the doctors are running roughshod over the e-health thing again.

And everybody has given up on building a pure-political nuclear plant, which keeps me out of a lot of fun.  :(

Sunday, August 14, 2011

More drilling into a fault zone


TOKYO: An international research team is to use the deep-sea drilling vessel, Chikyu, to bore into an area where two tectonic plates meet to study the movements of the plates that caused the Japanese earthquake.

This stuff is so glamorous that they continue to do it.  Meanwhile, some of us know that any such mechanism is exposed somewhere in the earth.  Frictional heat?  Get real!  It's never been found because it can't exist.  Dry rock doesn't grind for earthquakes, it's all on fluid, like slipping in the bathtub.  But it's good press!

Temagami 7 Day Canoe Trip - Part 2

Because of all the food I wasn't allowed to fish for a while.  Finally, on Lady Evelyn Lake, I pulled out the little rod, and did some trolling with a small Rapala.  At the time, I cursed the drag, and knew I was in Bigg Doodoo.

Well, we came up to some narrows, and went slow, looking for possible snags.  Suddenly there was small movement on the rod, and then it shot out of the canoe like a bullet!  It flew in the air, and was 6 feet behind the canoe before it hit the water!  I dragged the narrows with a rock on a rope for a while, but I knew it was gone.  That's the trouble with the big lakes.  I can only fish for a nice 2 lb bass, but there are huge monsters in there.  Had I done the right thing, with a better rod and drag, and the fancy rod holder from the canoe store, I might have fought this thing to get close enough to cut the line!

That whole lake is a giant subsidy to the luxury fishing camp lobby.  They are everywhere!  But they seemed empty.  I guess their heyday was the US $1.20 dollar, and gas at 50 cents.  At the end of the lake is this huge dam, built in 1972, of which the sole purpose is to create this industry.

Down the Montreal River, which is all flooded because of another dam, we stopped for lunch when a big storm hit us.  We huddled under the trees, having already picked out the Designated Lightning Tree.  This was a miserable place, and when there was a gap we zoomed to a good campsite.  The cloud formations looked like something from Mordor!  And behind us was this giant cloud with this diagonal cylindrical protrusion that looked like a killer steamroller!  It missed us, and we got to the campsite.

Finally got home.  The other guys did the pictures, and I might get them to G+ one day.  My attitude towards canoe trip pictures is that somebody has done them better and put them on the internet!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Temagami 7 Day Canoe Trip - Part 1

Grouchy Version

Ok, it had its nice points - scenery, wildlife, blah, blah.  But this is a grouchy blog, and here I am.  Also I just got back.

So, it was conspired that we would go on this 7 day trip up in the freezy North, instead of sitting in nice warm weather drinking beer on the dock.  You might detect which way I was leaning.

Now, we go because we have these super-canoeist friends.  The most important thing was to beat back their plans - "Don't you think 40 km paddling and 10 portages is a bit much for a day?".  We beat down and beat down some more.  Still, I was worried for old Cindy the Wonder Dog, and was contemplating bringing a big shovel, just in case.

We haven't done this in 8 years, and I still have the old-school Kevlar canoe, while the eager-beavers have a fancy carbon-fiber canoe (10 lbs lighter!).  So we went to the canoe store to buy carbon paddles!  Just don't look at any prices and trust your card in those places!

This is important for later.  I brought my fishing rod.  It's a 20 year old spin-cast, with 8 lb test, but folds up  small.  The drag is too stiff.

It's a long bloody drive up there!  North of North Bay.  Polar bear country!  (didn't see any!).  But, man, you can really tell when you reach Tony Clement's riding - they are making highway 11 better than anywhere along it's length.  They are blasting right through mountains, and I've never seen such blasting cliffs (hope they are stable, Tony!)

So, it's paddling time, and somebody has packed twice as much food as we need, just to give us more exercise.  As well, the toilet paper got mixed up, and we ended up with 1 roll, and rationing!

So, for my geology fans, there appears to be a lot of mining claim excitement up there.  Maybe it's copper, but it's Archean rock, and could be diamonds.  We were pumped up that the first portage was impossible to find, and they kept missing it in previous years.  So, very close to where we thought it was, there was this lovely pink survey tape.  "Oh look!  Somebody is nice to us!"  The stupid path went straight up a hill, so we thought we would look at it.  It went in generally the right direction, but was like Viet Nam movies!  Finally, I saw a g-dam mining claim disk!  I still couldn't stop the group, who were like zombies!  I whined and whined and they finally stopped.  We eventually recovered, intersected the real portage, and found the totally invisible portage start.  Dang prospectors!  I hope they lose their shirt!

-to be continued

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Statism in Engineering


It probably doesn't work.  I think that this is the most French-ish state-ish company this side of the Atlantic.

Acer Revo RL100

Just bought this as a general purpose computer for my daughter, for her small room at university.  It's replacing an old eeebox which was getting way to slow.  This is very fast with good graphics. I'm probably going to give up building my own huge tower machines one day.

It has this useless touch pad.  If you just want to use it, then power it up without a keyboard and mouse.  Poor me started it with a keyboard and mouse, and it puts in the exact same mouse and keyboard drivers.  You can't tell the difference!  So I can't ever try out this keyboard unless I kill the device drivers for the keyboard and mouse.  This is like being on the cartoon side of the branch you're cutting.

Dog days of summer

Nothing happening.  Going on a big canoe trip to Temagami.  Hope everybody is happy.