Saturday, March 31, 2012

Oklahoma earthquake - M3.3

As we have said, certain states delight us in continuing The Great Experiment.  That is, they continue to inject Come Hell or High Water.  This new grouping is offset from the main zone of the M6, and now we can safely say it is a new injection cluster.  It is a NW trend, and may connect with the quasi NE trend of the old quake.

I love a NW trend, since this is how Arkansas started.  We may expect a conjugate set, but I worry that the old quake stress-relieved that zone.  Still, people, keep on trucking!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Little towns - Last chance for nuclear waste riches


In the fall, they close the list!  You won't be able to sign up for the biggest gift since the G8!  For those towns with good geology and experience with mining, this is a piece of cake.  Very high tech and lots of good jobs with no downsides.  Unfortunately, as we all know, it will go to some town with very poor geology, but good political connections.  Then it could be a bit of a nightmare.  :(

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Clueless Swiss want Canadians to smell the earthquake roses


The Clueless Swiss lost their shirts in New Zealand because the government fooled them about earthquake risk and insured everybody for a song.  Now they want to sell to us!  The Canadian gov't should force earthquake insurance on everybody (or sell it cheap) and put all the reinsurance on the Swiss.  I can't see many individuals buying.  But if you are on swampy ground and feel the garbage truck going by, I would get insurance.

Colorado continues the injection well - earthquake experiment

This is one of the most active zones in ENA right now.  I looked it up, and they do chemical injection by the boatload!  All little sub-M3's right now.  I don't know how munched up this rock is, could be that M3 is the max.  Still, we all should keep an eye on it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Earthquake triplets near Bruce, Ontario

Being bored, I decided to look up the old Southern Ontario Seismic Network.  As I have written before, this was one of my greatest accomplishments, when I dug the money out of the old company, and kept them at it if they want to put in another nuclear plant.  They get one brownie point for this!

Unfortunately, you can get hoisted by your own petard!

After many years of no seismic monitoring up at the Bruce, they now have lots of instruments, courtesy of the 'Deep Thing' which I love so much!  :)   I call attention to the most amazing earthquake triplet just offshore of the monstrosity.  We are used to just seeing couplets in this area, so the triplet is a new thing. It is a sign of deep fluid motion along a fault, and we all know the giant Grenville Front (fault) zips by that place, and then joins up with a lot of activity down in the States.

Anyway, if you look at the site paperwork, they go on and on about no seismic activity there.  That's because there was never any monitoring!  I believe it will soon fill in and look as good as our straight line right under Hamilton.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ontario: Ticks of Doom

This inspiration came from g+ where people in the Carolinas were having a discussion on ticks.  Seems everybody and their dog pick them up!  :)

Now, for some reason our Ontario climate is heading for an interglacial maximum, which means Carolinian climate.  This happens all the time with interglacials!  That means we'll soon be flooded with opossums,ticks and Sassafras!


So, the discussion revolved around the best way to remove them, and I found this site.  There are lots of wrong ways to remove them!  We'll all need these gizmos soon.

ps.  NASA calls CO2 and NO coolants!    So cute!

Virginia earthquake - normal aftershock

Less exciting for me is that this whole area has a history of random M6's going off, and nothing ever happens again.  Boring!  This M3.1 is just at the edge of the action zone, and is generally expected.  There's this weird N-S trend but some of that might be poor earthquake locations.  More exciting would be a trend towards the lake, anything to indicate that this isn't just a locked up mechanism.  Much more fun is the general trend for New Madrid to expand, and also the Charleston earthquake mechanism.  :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tiny M7.2 hits Chile

Although an M7.2 of the right type at the right place can be devastating, this is not the type or place.  35 km down emasculates it.  As well, it follows a much bigger daddy who covered the area with 40 cm/s.  All the cheap condos fell over.  This thing probably doesn't hit 10 cm/s!  That beautiful smooth subduction arc is waiting for Big Momma!  :)

Very old earthquake review panel


Wow!  These people are all hundreds of years old, and didn't do a speck of work!  Reminds me of the Canadian Senate!  :)

The whole article smells like my opinion of our local nuclear review toadie team!  I didn't read the whole thing, since it was getting depressing, but you can see how engineers regard 30 year old seismic assumptions as 'brand new'.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Falling glass during earthquakes


This issue is a real humdinger, since it hasn't happened yet.  So far, all we have are falling bricks or collapsing buildings.  It's got to happen one day with a high PGV earthquake.  I don't know where the 'sweet spot' is, and maybe it will never happen.

The basic scenario is that we have a Toronto earthquake, and all these floppsy-woppsy cheap condos start shedding glass.  The buildings remain intact, however, and all the crazy people start flooding the streets.  They get cut down like fields of barley.  As we know, 'street flooding' is the stupidest thing, but the lack of earthquake preparation allows it.  It's like people picking up the seashells on the seashore, when a tsunami sucks away all the water!

Now, with Santiago, Chile, we have cheap condos permanently tilting at 40 cm/s.  But they flop right over at 80 cm/s.  No falling glass, just falling buildings.  I find it hard to believe that we have a PGV with just falling glass.  Toronto's M7 (rated at 1 in 10000) will probably just produce 40 cm/s in the downtown core.  Do not flood out into the streets!  Tilting condos may throw deck chairs from the roof!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fine Australian earthquake

Absolutely in the middle!  Why does Australia have these earthquakes?  No water, no people.  And if somebody eventually visits it, they will find it cracked the surface.  This is a case of high horizontal stresses without glaciation.  The continent has been shoved around, and is in a nice cool spot.  It settles and crunches the crust.  We would be exactly the same in ENA but we had glaciers acting as giant hammers, pounding the rock to crumbles.  Thus, most things that would fail in a few thousand years have failed already.

These hard-rock events generate almost no PGV to speak of, but a very high PGA.  Of course, if you are right on top, it'll throw you!

NASA nit-picks plate tectonics


It's happening, and there is just an argument over the precise nature of the 'floating' mechanism.  Good thing we have NASA to poke their collective noses in this!  They probably have nothing else to do.  :)

Here's something extra from the Mexico earthquake thing.  These are my picks of the smooth arcs of the Pacific Rim.  These arcs represent the maximum fractal dimension, which is the max size that a fault retains self-similarity.  I'm saying that sooner or later these things rip into a huge M9ish.  The tiny arc by Japan is that last M9.  An M10 would be 10 times longer and we can't fit that!  These arcs that are a few times longer than Japan only give an M9.3 or something.

Ground motion (PGV) probably saturates on firm ground at M7.  A California soil basin - M8.  Mexico City - M9.  Tsunamis don't saturate.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

USGS egg on face with Wisconsin earthquakes


Oh com'on Mr. USGS!  Admit you don't have a speck of monitoring there!  Your whole life is dedicated to surfing the big ones in Callie!

So when these poor people have the same booming as in New Brunswick, you don't know your seismic from a hole in the wall!

Anyway, poor people, these things happen, and are called micro-swarms.  They can happen very close to the surface in hard rock, and explode like a tea party marine!  They have never really developed into anything, and should soon go away.  I'll bet if you scratched the surface there, you would find some very high stresses right at the surface.  Great place for nuclear waste!

Sh*t earthquakes do while I'm gone

So, I was in Montreal for a few days.  I'm a kept man, so I just diddled around and looked at new construction.  They are sticking with straight pillar construction for the condos, and volcanic bedrock seems close everywhere, so I'm confident the buildings will do well in an earthquake.  Those shitty bridges are  something else!  Anyway I ran out of there before those 'pay nothing' students had their big demonstration.  Just like being in Paris!

While I was gone there was this little earthquake in Mexico.  Look at the beautiful subduction zone!  Do you think a measly M7.4 does it justice?  We are going to get a ripper M9 there one day!  Then we'll see the Mexico City basin do the jelly dance!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Brunswick earthquake swarm

I'm just referring to my old post on Miramichi.  This earthquake is out of my range with the nice maps from Ceri, and into Canada with horrible mostly-non-existent maps.  Most of these swarms are due to deep fluid motions, and a random M6 almost never signals itself like this.  It is sad to say that most M6's are one-shot deals and never repeat.  That is, the life of an M6 is that it sucks all the stress out of the surrounding rock, and then locks itself up in its own stress shadow, like a hole.  I'm only interested in growing fault mechanisms with no real limit in size.

Hot water tank games


So, back a few years ago, Consumers Gas sold all the hot water tanks to sleazy Direct Energy without telling anybody.  Whereas they used to replace old tanks, DE waited until the tank busted and destroyed your basement.  Then they replaced it with some old recycled thing from the 60's.  I went with Livclean, and wrote a huge series about it, with a zillion comments (since destroyed).  Problem was that soon everybody and their dog was into hot water tanks, and DE fought back stating how wonderful they were, and how everybody else were sleazes.  I was afraid of legal consequences.

Now DE has pulled out of Canada, and left some turds behind.  My hot water heater went to Reliance, and I couldn't be happier with their service.  There are lots of other options besides renting, but they all look like too much work for me!  :)

ps.  All those other sleazy companies are now into door-to-door sales of furnaces and such.  They still try to suck in fresh unemployed university students, and it is sheer hell to work for them.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rogue Virginia Earthquake

M2.2.  Some people are calling this an aftershock, but it isn't.  For now, just some random event in the middle of nowhere (no, I didn't mean Oshawa!).  :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Elliot Lake isn't bad for nuclear waste


I remember my trip into Elliot Lake more than 20 years ago.  I was at the height of my career, we had a thriving Geotechnical Department, and we were looking for more nuclear plants, and even had a big project on an underground nuclear plant.  Ah, those were the days!

So you had to fly in on this tiny 13 seater airplane.  I was jammed right behind the pilot.  They only have a single runway, and there was a cross-wind.  Wow!

The rock there is very tight and under very high horizontal stress.  We were looking at a uranium mine which had experienced some large rockbursts.  We climbed through the mine looking at the devastation.  That's where I got a real appreciation for the power of stressed rock, and it led me to more earthquake studies.

We must realize that there is no difference between 'intermediate' waste and the used fuel, which is called 'high level' waste.  Really, in Canada, we don't have high level waste, which I would classify as pure liquid Plutonium, extracted.  That's high-level waste!  The only thing about the fuel is that it can still produce a lot of heat.  Thus we have a problem in that extra heat will stress the rock.

Even if we go to my favourite site in Wesleyville, we have the problem of highly stressed rock and heat.  This is a rock mechanics question at its best!  I believe it is easily done.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Famous earthquakes: 1952 Kern County M7.5

Some rather high estimates of possible ground motions for the next big Cascadia slip, have led me to look for high ground motions with historical earthquakes.  Invariably these earthquakes are 'Superquakes', or my own term 'Fist of God'.  These are deep faults, near vertical thrusts, and they are so smooth when they rupture, that the rupture velocity approaches the speed of sound in rock (P wave velocity).  Most fault ruptures just trundle along at S-wave velocity or less.  I have written extensively about this.

The White Wolf Fault only had a length of 34 miles, and was thought to be only a minor threat.  This is a typical length for an M7'ish earthquake.  In actuality it was quite amazing that this fault showed its face at all, since most of these types of faults are deeply buried.

The highest intensity was MM XI, which has a PGV of about 2 m/s.  At this level outstanding things tend to happen:  things fly, trees and poles snap, etc.  There was absolutely nobody living around there, so just the railways got the worst of it.  These superquakes only produce the 'super motion' in a small zone around the fault.

Had there been buildings in the thrust zone, nothing would have survived.  Thus, we can see that the biggest threat in terms of ground motion are these superquakes at around M7.  M8's are just a string of M7's, which you can see if you look at the detailed rupture velocity maps.  M9's are a series of M8's.  :)  Oceanic M9's do not produce high ground motions.

Why the sweet spot at M7?  That's because the fault rupture length is 30 km or so, which is the usual depth to Moho (molten rock).  This is the maximum length where we can get a pure thrust pulse.  When you get to the M8 300 km, you can see that it is a long thin spaghetti on the crust, and has to rip like a zipper.

Leaning Tower of Washington


Turns out this tower is on the worst possible ground for earthquakes:  river mud.  Most of the buildings are on piles to bedrock, which is very good for earthquakes.  Even if they are old timber piles, these things last forever in the mud (no oxygen).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Everything on upper west coast to be totally destroyed


Telephone poles whip back and forth as if caught in a hurricane. Power lines rip loose in a shower of blue and yellow sparks, falling to the ground where they writhe like snakes, snapping and biting. Lights go out and the telephone system goes down.

Soon all Vancouver like this

I think these people are sniffing the vanilla!  For these effects we are looking at a PGV of over 100 cm/s, which is only experienced in a California basin, with a fault ripping right beside it.  Now, our Cascadia zone is quite far off, like Japan, and we can only expect 10 cm/s on medium ground.  Even the Seattle basin should not respond that much.

Now, Chile was much closer, and they got about 80 cm/s.  And whether it is an M8 or M9 doesn't do squat to the PGV, only the tsunami, which will vary from M8-terrible, to M9-horrendous.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Earthquake Hazard Mongering


When we engineer our cities and infrastructures, we engineer for the worst we have observed, or something less than that. With a false sense of security, we then rely on these structures, and build our communities accordingly. Then when a big earthquake hits, we are always caught off guard, and the disaster is worse because of structures and infrastructures we have created.”

I guess I'm just hazard mongering along.  Oh well, earthquakes seem to be winding down, and no self-delusional CBC story, so I'm going into a deep funk.  I'm going to try hard not to write for a while.  :(

Transparency ratings for nuclear organizations


But since nobody outside China’s nuclear industry knows what the problems are, nobody can know whether they have been solved or not.
Suddenly, even Japan’s dangerously shadowy nuclear industry begins to look almost transparent....

I think if we had Transparency International rate nuclear organizations, it would be fun to see how things would fall out.  I think they would just throw up their hands and call all of them 'black as pitch'.  Here in Canada, you'd have to kill yourself, go to the Supreme Court, or whatever, to get the tiniest scrap of information.  Does that place us between China and Japan?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Everybody around Bruce LOVES nuclear waste!


This struck me somewhat.  I just came back from the local Spoon&Fork, and am stuffed with all-you-can-eat sushi.  So I'm happy, and I'm glad everybody else is happy.  We don't look at the long odds around here, so we're all happy.  The great lesson of Fukushima was that you can get away with this, as long as nothing happens.  :)

Nuclear risk perception


Hey, this is my lost CBC thing!  There seems to be a zillion articles on the big anniversary, but sooner or later they have to strike home.

If the nuclear-power industry is to have a future, one thing is clear: It will have to rely less on an engineer's view of acceptable risk, and more on the common public perception that a meltdown that threatens to contaminate tens of millions of people cannot be tolerated.

PULEEZE!  This is just the attitude of current 'claptrap' operators, who are all factory engineers.  I, of course, have called them 'janitors'.  Surely there must be one exception to the rule!  :)

Oklahoma remains open for the earthquake biz

It's a baby M3!  There's been a lot of press lately on the Ohio resolutions.  The big boys continue to say that nothing significant was ever born from injection.  I think Ok will show them!  This latest is still in that mystery zone outside of the main M6 fault (aftershocks).  I wish we had better depth control, I don't even think they instrumented the place yet!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ohio doesn't want any more fracking injection earthquakes


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A state investigation has concluded that a series of a dozen earthquakes in the Youngstown area was induced by a deep injection well disposing of wastewater that's a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing.
A preliminary report released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Friday based the conclusion on "a number of coincidental circumstances." Factors included the opening of D&L Energy's well in December 2010, quakes being clustered around the well bore, a fault since identified in the bedrock, and evidence from monitoring.
The state will impose tough new brine disposal regulations as a result.
Future injection into Precambrian rock will be banned and state-of-the-art pressure and volume monitoring will be required. Electronic tracking systems will be required to identify chemicals in the fluids entering the state.

Oh well, scratch Ohio off the earthquake list.  This just leaves us Ok, Texas, possibly Colorado, and large dams.  Perhaps some new states will get into it?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No nuclear seismic expertise available - they say


Here I am!  Ready to be paid lots of money!  One little caveat:  I can't stand the secrecy, hypocrisy, and corruption of the standard way of doing business.  You need to lighten up people!  Brush out the drunken old boys!  Become proud of yourselves again!

Needless to say, I won't be counting my pennies from Heaven before they hatch....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

West airliners remain a high class operation


The industry’s global accident rate in 2011 in which an aircraft is destroyed or substantially damaged was 0.37, or the equivalent of one accident every 2.7 million flights, compared to 0.61 the previous year.

As I have mentioned, there are 3 classes of operation:  low, medium and high.  They are classed by the odds of catastrophic failure.

Low Class

-Italian cruise ships, The African Queen, nuclear power plants.

Medium Class

-transit and cars, highways, ships

High Class

-boilers, elevators, aircraft

Low class involves operator-class intellect.  To paraphrase the hero of the African Queen:  "I'm not fixing it, because I like kicking it.  Gives meaning to my life!"  The is the attitude of all operators who can't see past their collective noses.  The odds of major death is 1 in 500 per year.

For medium and high class, you need mass distribution and market pressure.  Old Detroit car quality was low class, but having all these cars blowing up, caused people to avoid these cars.  Now, safety is medium class, about 1 in 10000.  It requires a lot of designer brains, top engineers, etc.  People will drive in cars as long as friends of friends aren't getting killed.  The don't read the newspapers about this.

High class requires market pressure, mass distribution, and a great sensitivity to newspapers.  Thus, people will avoid flying if they read about an accident involving a western aircraft.  Nobody cares about Russian planes!  Elevators as well.  The odds, as stated above are beyond 1 in a million.  This requires tremendous engineering talent, and great attention to parts, replacements, etc.  All technical people must have a long view, and be sensitive to low odds.

Darlington refurb to go all contractor


With a firm plan and detailed cost estimates in place for each component of the project, the province will be able to hold contractors to the terms of the deal; taxpayers and ratepayers won’t be at risk for cost over-runs.
That’s a change from past practice, he says, when the public ended up on the hook for massive over-runs, which are still being paid off through the debt retirement charge on every hydro bill.

There's always two ways to go on a major project.  The old way was to build up your expertise, and do it yourself.  The new way is to have no expertise and rely on contractor 'tech slaves'.  This second way was chosen for the Niagara tunnel, where 3 hopeless guys were in charge on the company side.

Which way leads to overruns?  Or should I say the greater overruns?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Earthquake anxiety


A very good earthquake article on Japan.  I think all their investment in 'earthquake alarms' probably does more harm than good.  Rather than an M9, Tokyo is more susceptible to the local M7, like Kobe.  No warning there!  Also, there is a good mention of the 'earthquake fade', where people become complacent a year after any earthquake.

Engineering grads - Stay out of the tech ghetto


Ok, that girl is not going to be a pure techie.  With a business degree, she'll go into project management, or procurement, just like the other girl mentioned.  The tech ghetto is still very bad, with one grad I know only getting a job as a bottom temp, with no benefits or anything.  That's probably why they can't fill those jobs!

We know my opinion on how they treat people in nuclear orgs.  I can't recommend it, but a job is better than no job, which is the common thing for a lot of university graduates these days.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Best nuclear stress tests are worthless


(WSJ links may not last)

One glaring oversight, they say, is the measurement used to determine the test levels for a potentially crippling tidal wave. In at least one case, the perceived maximum level was set at 38 feet—even though Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi was hit by a 46-foot-high tsunami in the March earthquake and some towns saw waves of up to 132 feet.

They say the tests don't explore other types of risks, such as a deliberate attack, and don't look at multiple causes of failure, like what happened at Fukushima Daiichi, which was first hit by a major earthquake and then a tsunami.

The first paragraph is a big issue I have with Japan.  The max height at the reactor was on open ground!  This is not the height of run-up, which is what happens if you put a big seawall in front of it.  That's 132 feet!  The difference is the momentum or kinetic energy of the water.

The second point applies to all nuclear operators, who, as I have said, run a very low-class operation.  Multiple failure does not mean earthquake+tsunami!  It means things like small loss of coolant with grid power loss, and backup failure.  It means failure over 4 reactors.  All those sorts of things.  Poor operation is the reason that the probability of the next Japan is as common as the chance of a major earthquake hitting another nuclear plant.  For Toronto and New Madrid, we are talking worse than 1 in 1000, maybe as common as 1 in 500.  Enough for a nuclear disaster anywhere in the world every 10 years.

Friday, March 2, 2012

No recovery from Japan earthquake


Wow, reading this reminds me of nuclear organizations!  Looks like the same things that led to the nuclear crisis interfere with the recovery.  So far we are batting zero for places recovering from disasters -- New Orleans, Haiti, Chile, and Japan.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Madrid Earthquake

Although we can make fun of OK and their little injection earthquake problem, it is the NM zone that gets me most excited!  I am interested in this latest tendency to migrate out of the original aftershock zone (M2.7 in red), and extend to the SE to Dyersberg.  Wouldn't it be out of this world if they were injecting there?  Anyway, if this trend continues, we will see something!

Darlington to be totally replaced after only 20 years


A tiny bit of a design flaw has worn out this reactor somewhat early.  I wonder if that really made a difference on investment return, since it did make a big hunk of money.

Well, here's to another 20 years!  :)

Hovercraft Houses


Check out the little video on this silly idea.  This is essentially an undamped base isolation system.  I can't really see it raise the seismic capacity of standard housing.  Piles are always better!

The new war with photos


Quite neat, I would have put up a simple article on retrofitting old Christchurchy buildings, and I would have taken the picture with a reference.

But now it's a legit social comment on grungy pictures and the war of rights.  They want me to buy this ugly photo!  Obviously, this "buying thing" is put there so I don't use it.  This leads to the latest discussions of Pinterest, where everybody steals the photos, and there is a rising stink about it.  Many sites have now put in a blocking code "No Pinterest", and you have to do a screen capture to get around it.

The Daily OAK - earthquake in Oklahoma


I like this one, it seems to be expanding the upper zone.  It gives every appearance of setting up for a big one, but extremely noisy zones usually don't do much.  I think we can safely make fun of this, without great anxiety.  :)