Friday, September 30, 2011

Japan tsunami escape pod


Scatter the streets with tennis balls for the next tsunami!  They say they can get 4 people in there!  But I think you need a big Japanese subway pusher with a plunger to get them all in.

Earthquakes and Oil


or gas.  There has always been a connection.  It's just a matter of how big things can get.  If you have randomly fractured rock, in a low stress setting, maybe you don't get anything over an M4.  If you activate a mechanism, there is no limit, like Arkansas.  They could have brought that right up to an M7!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another g+ geology hangout

These things are slowly starting to work.  At the start of it, I had to completely update my Linux system and reboot a couple of times, but it eventually worked.  :)  Maybe I should keep the little windows laptop as a backup.  :)

PS3 becoming useless for watching video

Sony has done it.  They've become the perfect Chinese-type nanny on what you can watch.  They have now incorporated the Cin-avia copy protection, which is a deep spread-spectrum encoding in the audio channel.  Nothing can beat it.  Except of course, GETTING RID OF THE PS3!

Blah, blah - if you are perfect, you don't mind being totally controlled.  Heck, I could buy Apple if I wanted that! (most people jailbreak those things)

So now, it's off to find a new Linux media player.  I'm thinking of a min-itx case, but those things are complicated.  Then I would run an open-source player.

Washington Monument Marginally Stable

Lots of troubles after the earthquake, so it looks like it won't open soon.  This is what happens with marginally stable buildings - one whack and they all go to pieces.

In the middle ages, all stone buildings were marginally stable, that is, they tended to start building the cathedrals and such, and if they fell down during construction, they beefed things up.  I think that's how flying arches were invented.  If the building actually stayed up, then everybody gave a great sigh of relief.

The same with the WM.  It was going to be 600 feet, but somebody discovered the foundation might not take it, and it was chopped down to 550 ft.  That's not very far from static failure!  Of course, we have the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa as a demonstration of when you should pull your cards (and don't!).

So, marginally stable means high Seismic Fragility, or a low PGV to cause trouble.  You only have to cause a little damage to the foundation to destroy the integrity, since these materials are non-linear, and crack like eggs. They might have to re-support the WM on big piles, like Pisa.

The Seattle amplifying basin


Yeah John Vidale!  John doesn't participate in our g+ seismic silliness because he is quoted in practically every news article on earthquakes and has to stay serious.  :(

Anyway, double basins are fun as shown with the Mexico earthquake.  You can have your soft sediments on top, which amplify PGV by a factor of ten.  This is enough to destroy most cities.  But a deep basin can jump things up by another factor of 10!  Thus, you get hit with a double whammy of a factor of 100!

This is what will crumble Seattle when the 'Big One' hits, just like Mexico.  I can't see Vancouver in this situation.  A subduction earthquake can't put out more than 10 cm/s, like Japan, unless you are right on top of it, like Chile.  I estimate this is what hit the coast of Mexico during that quake.  The region around Mexico City only measured about 1 cm/s on firm ground.  The basin knocked it up to 10 cm/s and the soil to 100 cm/s.  Seattle will be much worse, but after 100 cm/s you can't measure anything! and it really doesn't matter.

Over 100 cm/s, eyewitness reports tell of visible standing waves that march across the basin like tornadoes, destroying everything.  Things get thrown into the air.  etc, etc.

Virginia earthquake amazing nuclear conclusion


The NRC has said “repeatedly” the broad seismic review “deals with an issue that fails to present an immediate safety concern,” Scott Burnell, an agency spokesman, said in an e- mail. Existing plants are built to “safely withstand the earthquakes at their sites,” he said.
...The Virginia earthquake caused no significant damage at North Anna, even though ground shaking exceeded the plant’s design limits, Dominion has said.
“The recent experience at North Anna supports the agency’s conclusion” that existing plants are built to withstand earthquakes at their sites, Burnell said.

Wow, thus the nuclear-seismic issue is buried.  In reality, the earthquake caused all the systems to go haywire with a very small peak ground velocity (PGV), which is the better measure of damage potential.  Probably, the plant got hit with 5 cm/s.  It would have taken a little bit more to knock out the diesel generators.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seismologists play kiddie soccer


Seismologist David Jackson of the University of California, Los Angeles, likened the experiment to kiddie soccer.
There are "no official winners or losers, but plenty of scorekeeping from the sidelines" to learn the strengths and weaknesses of various quake theories, Jackson said.

I loved it when the kids were 5 and playing soccer!  They would just swarm around the ball and it would be a random walk up and down the field.  Once in a while, a kid would just sit down and play with the flowers.  Nobody kept score, but there was lots of cheering for everything.

LInux, Google +, and Hangouts

Just had my first geology hangout yesterday.  I'm amazed it worked with my Linux desktop.  Nothing ever works with Linux!  I could use the g+ extras, and share my screen.

This is a brave new world, but it will be limited by those nasty time zones, and my old-man need for sleep!  We had a grad student from Egypt, but students never sleep.  :)  Everybody will have to upgrade their equipment as well, since there can be a lot of static with bad mikes, etc.

For popular hangouts, the next phase is the lecture format, where the hangout is streamed to youtube.  I don't think earthquakes and geology will ever get to more than 10 people, though.  :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Geology: Rocks bring forth life


Even if alien comets sprinked life here and there, it had to live somewhere.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Google+ Search

This is a new feature, and can replace the Twitter 'earthquake detector' if they get a few hundred more million people on it.  I'm putting my 'microblogs' on it, since all the sites that suck off my posts probably get mad if I stray from earthquakes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

World's Stupidest Seismic Test


Nice video.

Earthquake Radon Anomaly


"It is not so easy. I am into this research monitoring soil radon since 2006 in Kolkata and parts of north Bengal namely Matigara and Jalpaiguri that come under the active fault zone. What I gathered from the data is that there is a direct correlation between the soil radon anomaly within 1,000 kilometres from the measuring site, and for intensity above 4 in the Richter scale. They occur 7-15 days before an earthquake with few exceptions," said Ghosh, director of the Biren Roy Research Laboratory for Radioactivity and Earthquake Studies, Jadavpur University. 

This is a very rational guy.  Good thing he doesn't live in Italy!  As we know from slow earthquakes, there are probably lots of radon anomalies that don't announce big shakers.  Still, I've always found this fascinating.  As we know from the Fish Theory of Earthquakes,  there must be a 'pre-slip' to reach the critical displacement, where dynamic friction takes over.  In a fractured and unstable regime, the effects of this slip can disturb the rock for a huge distance, as shown by discrete element modeling.  So naturally, there should be a radon anomaly.

As the man says, this is probably useless for earthquake prediction.  The nasty Italians want an exact date, size, and 100% certain 24 hour window, with no false alarms.  Fat chance!

Hydrogen vents killed the nuclear plant


• Strengthening vents that were supposed to safely release hydrogen from reactors but failed after the earthquake.
• Ensuring backup power lasts 72 hours to run emergency cooling equipment at plants, which failed after a day in Japan.

I'm not saying anything, since I'm forcing myself to be happy-happy.  The days are shortening, and I ordered a new blue led happy lamp for my cyclic depression.  This news is new to me.

Nuclear plants have always had 2 classes of equipment - 'seismically qualified' and garbage.  I've always said it's the garbage that will come up and bite you in an earthquake, and they bashed me down for 30 years... (when's that damn lamp coming?).

New Canterbury earthquake cluster 'good news'


A swarm of small quakes west of Christchurch may be good news for residents worried another big shake is on the way.
Earthquake scientists believe a recent series of earthquakes measuring up to 4.3 magnitude may show that Canterbury's most active current quake zone is breaking into small chunks.

Wow, how they come up with this stuff?  It is obvious that the whole basin is an anomaly, and must be maintained by regular earthquake activity, just like the lowlands of Japan.  They really need to start a new city, with everything on piles, and all services in hard tunnels.

Canadian gov't needs science


He has now asked the Council of Canadian Academies - a notfor-profit agency that provides science-based studies - for an independent, expert-panel assessment "of the state of scientific knowledge on potential environmental impacts from the development of Canada's shale gas resources."

Wow.  I haven't seen anything very science-friendly going on in that upper atmosphere.  Mostly it has been mass destruction.  I wonder where these guys will dig up their expertise, university profs, most likely.

Windsor Hum Nailed


Windsor-Detroit, being one of the heaviest industrial areas around, has found out that heavy industry is responsible for the hum.  I was actually on the local radio for this issue!  I thought it might be the ships, but now it's some factory.  Wonder what they are doing?  Looks like an ideal place to put in windmills, nobody would notice them!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No nuclear in Ontario election


Sappy article, but makes the point.  With all my experience in nuclear siting, I just can't see how we can get there from here.  Of course, you could rebuild the nuclear plants several times before you approach the actual cost per kw of useful power from the Niagara Tunnel (dividing by zero!).

All money goes into California earthquake early warning


After years of lagging behind Japan, Mexico and other quake-prone countries, the U.S. government has been quietly testing an earthquake early warning system in California since February. Cochran belongs to an exclusive club of scientists who receive a heads up every time the state shakes.

It doesn't work.

With more testing and funding, researchers hope to build a public warning system similar to the Japanese that has been credited with saving lives during the March 11 magnitude-9 disaster.

Wow, haven't heard of that!

"You want to get under a sturdy table before things start falling off the wall," said University of California, Berkeley seismologist Richard Allen, a project participant. "We don't want people to start running out of buildings."

Which is what everybody will do!  :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ontario-Quebec M4 earthquake

This doesn't rate much attention, but look at the big difference between an M4, M5, and M6, all of which we've had recently.  When I look at a new earthquake that's come down on the wire, such as the India earthquake, I look to see if there's any population, and then I decide whether it's an 'every day' event or not.  A series of common earthquakes has already knocked down everything there is to tipple over.

India earthquake - M6.8

In reality, this earthquake is as interesting as an M7 in the middle of the Pacific.  Really, it is in one of the most active places in the world!  Still, the pictures remind me of a great Bollywood film I saw - Jab we met.  The earthquake probably started some landslides, since that whole place is one big landslide.


Less than 100 killed, mainly because of the extreme isolation.  Had this happened right under a city, then it would be different.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Virginia Earthquake - Aftershocks approach lake

Yeah, new aftershocks!  Maybe that rinky equipment they brought in is working!  That one red spot has brought me out of detachment.  I'm assuming there would have been a heck of a lot more dots, if they had real money to work with, but you'll notice that the USGS doesn't touch this stuff.  It has to be poor old Lamont-D to try and pull something from their dusty shelves.

Now, we'll see a few dots downstream, and we'll know it's working on the next quake...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fish Detached

I am detached.  I'm tired of a soapbox to nothing.  I wish all of you no earthquakes nowhere, so you don't have to do a thing!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vancouver Island Earthquake - M6.7

Oh, piddle-sticks!  Just when I wanted to wallow in depression, along comes this thing.  Looks like the big zipper is about to zip!


Bah, M6.4 now!  That's nothing.  You need an M7 to start the chain.  You can't dig me out of my hole that way Earthquake Gods!  Back to wallowing...

Going for now

Rumours have it that our local Liberal candidate for Etobicoke Centre is so fed up that she is campaigning in name only, like an NDP candidate in Quebec!  I, also, am in one of my fed up moods.  Really, why am I doing this?  It's like a comedy act with no audience and no money.  Google+ is a total failure, since it was meant for people with more than half a brain, and they never talk!

I might wake up when something big happens.

Geology - Pangean acid could happen today!


Pangea 250 million years ago, exactly the same as today!

Researchers have long believed that massive volcanic eruptions in present-day Siberia - or possibly a huge meteorite strike - triggered the so-called PermianTriassic extinction. But the precise mechanism of death for so many species remains a subject of debate, with some scientists convinced it was a resulting lack of oxygen in the Earth's oceans or a greenhouse-gas nightmare that nearly ended all plant and animal life.
Runaway ocean acidification "would definitely have a very serious biological impact on ocean calcifiers," said Montenegro, referring to creatures that manufacture their own bodily structures from minerals found in ocean water.

This is an inside joke for geologists.  Do not attempt to understand it!

Earthquake nuclear plant up a creek


Dominion officials said it now appears the reactors shut when the earthquake caused a problem inside the cores at both units rather than from the loss of outside power to the plant as initially reported.
"It looks like the (fuel) rods were going into the core prior to the transformer opening," possibly from a relay problem, a Dominion executive said.
Dominion is still working to understand the "root cause" of the plant shutdown as multiple automatic trip signals from various indicators were received within seconds of the quake. 

These old plants aren't computerized, but they have a lot of hair-trigger safety relays, all of which may have gone off in the earthquake.  Trying to figure out the sequence may be impossible.

Netherlands earthquake - Gnomes suffer


Quel horreur!  

Rhine graben.  Very interesting geology, and the earthquake mechanisms are probably the same as east NA.

Big California blackout - no earthquake


I always like studying blackouts.  They are truly fractal, which means they are self-similar, just like earthquakes.  If you plot the size of blackouts and the number per year (frequency), on as log-log, you will most likely get the standard straight line of a similar earthquake plot.

This is what you would expect with a chaotic system, and I think I once wrote something about this.  But nuclear plants rely heavily on the grid, and they used to make the assumption there would never be a big blackout, much like earthquakes.  They just can't handle exponentials, and chaotic fractal systems!

Of course, they also don't realize that we will have a big blackout with a big earthquake.  Everything hinges on those back-up generators and electrical systems, which have the seismic fragility of a cheap condo.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Standard earthquake brick strengthening found useless


"Many of those rods just pulled straight out. We are still going through the process of finding how many times that happened. When there were failures that was the most common reason. The building owner spent money on this and these buildings were supposed to be strengthened," he said.
"This is a method that is widely used in California, so it is rather alarming. Some of the strengthening in California could suffer the same problem."

This is interesting.  What do you do with those damn bricks?  Everybody loves brick facades, and old brick buildings.  They add charm to neighbourhoods, and downtown areas.  Starbucks always burrows into them!

But they are killers.  Toronto loves to knock down the buildings and leave the facade, supported by steel.  Is this safe?  What happens after a few years of frost?  If the Virginia earthquake were to have been more significant, such as an M7?

Virginia Earthquake - North Anna Nuclear Plant Sloshed


Wow, they are coming up with as many flip-flops as Japan!  It was sloshing that killed the nuclear plant.

They are continuing their pathetic search for 'telltales', which is the #1 plan for earthquakes in eastern nuclear land.  Also #1 in Canada.  That means they decided in advance, using the typical bad physics, what things should happen with a significant earthquake.  If they don't find any of these things, then that gives the 'all clear' to start the plant.  This strategy has never worked!  I argued strenuously against it, before I got kicked out.

Now, honestly, my bile is reserved for Pickering which is instrument-less.   Darlington was very nice, and we've got it peppered with instruments.  First off, we have 2 top-grade broad-range seismometers, hooked into the national grid.  These will give us an accurate PGV, up to fairly high levels.  Then we have a good internal system, which I suppose is still working.  The only thing missing is a good plan on how to deal with the results, should there be an M6 on the Hamilton fault.  Without a plan, the instruments are probably useless, since they will show a high spike PGA, no matter what.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

India Earthquake - Small

M4.3, not much to write home about, but right under the city, which might cause damage.  Note the sharp border of seismicity.  India is smashing into Asia, and you would think the compression would spread out.  But apparently India is as soft as mush, and is just schlooping over the Himalayas, like soft ice cream.

US Earthquake nuclear plant closed 'forever'


I'm using the little kid concept of 'forever'.  I'm sure it will open up some day, but they are caught in the 'Perry Trap', where there is some indication that they 'exceeded design'.  Now, they have exceeded with only one parameter, which is 'Spike PGA', which is the worst indicator of damage potential ever devised.  Still, PGA is important to clueless engineers, and 'exceeding design' sets up a huge cascade of bureaucracy in NRC-land.

After the Perry plant disaster, where spike PGA exceeded design, the industry pet EPRI (consultant think tank) wrote a whole series of reports on proper damage indicators, and what to do with acceleration records.  Perry actually had recordings, where el-cheapo North Anna does not.  They came up with this ludicrous CAV, which is cumulative absolute velocity.  Needless to say, nobody uses it, but their condemnation of PGA is valid, and I promote the use of the much simpler PGV.

I don't know how this nuclear plant is going to extract itself from this sticky mess, since there are no records whatsoever.  If this were Japan (before the disaster), they'd simply hand wave and start up.  But now, all the politicians are looking, and we know how silly that gets.  :)

ps.  it looks like no extra seismometers are on the Virginia site.  I don't see any migration to the lake, so it will most likely settle down and stop all action for a while.  If there is any more action, it will be M5's to expand that zone to produce an M6.5.


Looks like they are saying 26% g for the spike PGA.  Plant design is 12%, with 18% also quoted.

Bruce nuclear waste thing mired

No earthquakes, so I'm doing my "Where are they now?" thing.  I found out that the Niagara Tunnel was still on the move, and today I looked up the Bruce nuclear waste thing.  As we recall, this underground thing is for 'low level' nuclear waste, and is going to be located in the Worst Rock in the World.  Naturally, if you look hard enough, you can always find a speck of rock that is better than the rest, and this is what they are aiming for.  They use the concept that the heavy saline water shows it is undisturbed, even though they will have to pump out oceans of water to get there.

Still, after they released their glossy report, I am pleased to say there has been no action whatsoever.  Everybody is happy with that, since I suspect there is more money in stringing this along, than actually doing it. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bell Land-line becomes useless

I have anonymous attacking my phone, with a denial of service attack!  Every 2 minutes comes a machine call that just squawks 'maw' at me!  Bell is useless and wants me to sign up with that 'do not call thing'.  But all the calls I get are direct from India.

I should ditch it, but everybody uses it for identification.  Blah...

Montreal - Too many cooks collapse the bridge


Dozens of aging overpasses, bridges, tunnels and roads in Montreal used by thousands of people daily have more than one party responsible for inspecting, maintaining and repairing them – and keeping them safe.

You go into Montreal, and say OMG!  What would happen with an M6 near there?  And believe me, they are in the hottest of earthquake zones.

Niagara Tunnel has a bo-bo

I am not following this at all!  Seems that Ontario-ians love Soviet central industrial planning, and shrug at billions being wasted.

July 2nd 2011 - 

A  "Fall of Ground" occurred within the Niagara Tunnel on Saturday July 2nd 2011 between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Forty to fifty cubic metres of rock fell from the roof of the Niagara Tunnel.  Project manager Ernst Gschnitzer said it happened in a "problematic area" about six kilometres into the 10.2-kilometre tunnel. Nobody was injured.

"The area is secured and we are in the process of restoring, or gearing up for restoring, the area," said Gschnitzer, of Strabag AG, the Austrian company hired by Ontario Power Generation to build the tunnel. "It happened already a while ago in another zone of the tunnel. It is an area that we have already monitored." 
- Niagara Falls Review

The TBM mined the area of the tunnel at 6,000 Meters at an elevation of 91.729 meters in February of 2010.

This is the second such occurrence that has occurred. 

The first "Fall of Ground" fell from the crown of the tunnel on September 11th 2009.  The partial collapse came just as the TBM was moving into more competent ground and achieving higher progress rates. About 25m3 (100 tonnes) of temporary lining and Queenston Shale fell from the crown. According to the owner, Ontario Power Generation, no one was injured in the collapse and all of the workers left the tunnel safely, following established emergency procedures. The fall occurred about 2 km (1.2 miles) behind the TBM, and some 3,600 meters (2.2 miles) into the 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) long ,14.4 meter (47ft) diameter tunnel, in an area that experienced some of the most severe over-break to date. 

All I want is to be able to cruise down that tunnel and look for liner cracks!  Perhaps a new gov't will let me, but I doubt it.  I'm letting my Peng expire, since there seems to be no hope for anything rational in the next few years.  :(

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Earthquake prediction party


I'm so jealous!  That's why nobody was around for the Virginia earthquake, they were all in LA, trying to predict an earthquake!  :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

US Nuclear plants ready to go


Let's assume the North Anna plant was hit with 10 cm/s from an M5.8.  That's really a small earthquake for disaster planning, and the zone looks like it can generate far greater, easily a Charleston M7 or thereabouts.

At 10 cm/s I believe a Mark 1 reactor (Oyster Creek) would have lost a few significant nozzles and be in a Japanese state.  But this reactor is an old Westinghouse design, which can probably take 30 cm/s.  But what about the diesel generators?  They are always located on a crap foundation, much like the waste casks, which shifted 11 cm, but the diesels are usually anchored.  I've never seen a nuclear diesel farm that can take 30 cm/s, mainly because of the rotten tanks, and el-cheapo block walls.  I think the ground motion was very close to that on the diesel pad, and a close examination should show that the anchors pulled.

Thus, we must ask ourselves 2 questions:

What would have happened to a Mark 1 at this location?

How close was this to a disaster?  -diesels shifting.

Because there were no instruments, we will never know, but I never let willful ignorance stop me!  I'd say we'd be into a first class nuclear emergency if this had been an M6.5.  The containment would hold, and lightly contaminate things.  Had this been a Mark 1, an M6.5 would have blown it out of the water....

Virginia aftershock creep


An M3.4 is decent.  I still don't have any indication that these crazy people have put in more instruments.  One sign would be that they are locating earthquakes below M2 --- not happening!

As such, I don't know how much faith we can put in the aftershock locations, but I find this one interesting.  With induced earthquakes, such as this one, the actual location of the earthquake is a function of suitable geology and stress, drawn in by the location of the lake.  This earthquake found a nice slick fault on the edge of a seismic zone.  The zone has now expanded towards the lake.

Had there been decent Canadian-style instruments in the years leading up to this, we would have traced the path of M1's and 2's.  I'm sure the fault maintains its slickness to the lake and beyond, so we should see more earthquakes creep in that direction.  Because they refuse to instrument properly, we'll only see the big earthquakes.

Virginia Earthquake - Nuclear waste casks play the hokey-pokey


The giant rusty barrels of nuclear waste did a little dance in Virginia.  They shifted as much as 11 cm.

This probably indicates a PGV of 40-60 cm/s on soft soil, since they invariably put these things on the worse foundation possible.  Of course we'll never know what the plant actually experienced, but I'm sure it was around 5-10 cm/s.

It reminds me of an old decrepit nuclear plant near Toronto.  They put the nuclear waste in rusty barrels, propped up on rusty stilts, on a swamp.  Since we determined they would fall with any earthquake, we actually had to show that the barrels would hold.  Would make a fine mess.