Wednesday, March 27, 2013

M6.0 earthquake Taiwan

This is just an M6 in the highlands of Taiwan.  You can see that the tectonics there is a mess!  They usually expect big offshore earthquakes, but they have lots of interior ones.  The best thing, is that you learn something when they have an earthquake, since they have lots of monitoring and are very bright.  This is the place that fully developed the relationship of damage to peak ground velocity (PGV), which is something not yet taken up by the slow engineers elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

M5.5 earthquake in Mexico - happy little reminder

This is really nothing, although a slightly larger one happened down the road.  I just like to put up the nice picture.  Although we have had regular M8's popping up along the track, that beautiful undersea landscape can only come from M9's, where you get like 20m of displacement.  But, lots of other places can go first.  :)

The State of Climate Change - Part 2

Part 1

Synopsis:  We have seen that climate people do not follow the same rigour with error, as the other physical sciences.  In particular, they have plotted different resolutions on one time plot.  This is anathema to earthquake science since it would always show increased earthquake activity, due to the recent installation of numerous seismometers.


We cannot have a time plot without somebody wanting to extrapolate into the future.  It is human nature. Over the years we have seen many methods of doing this.


The simplest thing to do is attach a straight dotted line to the end of the time plot.  This is frequently done, although nobody would ever admit it.  Thus, we had 'Momentum Investors' and other such fools.  No matter what they say, when you see that dotted straight line, it is momentum.

Spurious Cross-Correlation

This has plagued earthquake people for time immemorial.  The basic recipe:

Take one time plot

Search the world for another time plot that matches this.  You have an infinite number of choices.

Associate the two in some manner.

For earthquake prediction, everybody found some correlation with clouds, temperature, small seismic activity, animals, etc.  By the sweat of their brows in the initial choosing, the match is perfect.  We have also seen this with stock investing.  This perfect match, however, always falls apart tomorrow.

I have found, over the years, that you cannot argue against this.  The only thing you can do is run away, like from the mythical killer rabbit.  You might mention, as I have done with climate, that there is no physics behind this correlation, but it will fall on deaf ears.

A variation on this is 'Hind-Cast Modelling', which is computer modelling where the material properties are derived from the cross-correlation.  In other words, you calibrate by making sure the computer results match the past.  I have run into this numerous times, and I am bruised and bloodied by it.

Things properly done

If you want to extrapolate properly, you have to get down and dirty with the physics.  This is done all the time with car-crash modelling, where the material properties are derived from lab testing.  With earthquakes, it involves getting down to the actual grain-to-grain properties of rock, which again can be derived from lab testing.  To extrapolate and scale up, you have to ensure that you have a self-similar system, and you are following the standard scaling laws.  You then come up with a time-slice finite differences computer model.

To do climate science right, you must get down to the physics, which unfortunately is mostly unknown.  For example, what are the energies of the big forcing functions?  How stable are they?  Are there non-linear interactions?  What is the role of a single molecule of CO2 at various elevations?  Although the task may seem daunting, the more physics, the merrier!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The State of Climate Change - Part 1

Tremendous controversy in the media right now on climate change.  This is a summary of the current state, from a physics point of view.

Climate change used to be called 'Global Warming', but the all the semantics have been shifting over the duration.  We have to separate the good hard science of observation, from the extrapolations.  For observation, it was noted that global temperatures have been rising from the mid 1800's.  This has been a good thing for Canada, since the winters of the early 1800's were almost unliveable, and we don't want to go there again.

Obviously the temperature rise had to be set in context, and this has proven to be difficult and constantly subject to revision.  Most of the current media vitriol is related to this.

Global temperature has always risen and fallen in response to titanic forces.  In fact it is amazing that it always stays in a fairly narrow band conducive to life.  These forces include:  sun output, orbit cycles, carbon dioxide and water vapour and other muck from volcanism, ocean currents, and the jet stream.  From a physics point of view, these energies are orders of magnitude above anything man can do.  Sort of like earthquakes.

We had our super-warming when all the continents came together and the dinosaurs reigned.  Since the continental break-up, we've had numerous ice ages, with very warm interglacials.  Nobody knows how these forces interact, and any attempt to produce a single forcing cycle, such as orbital cycles, has always failed.

Within the last 10,000 years, there have been numerous warming and cooling cycles.  The problem is that nobody was there with a thermometer!  This is exactly the same problem with have with earthquakes, and trying to determine past rates.  Thus, we go to 'surrogates' such as sediments, tree rings, ice cores, etc.  None of these are that good, and have large error bars.

With earthquakes, we then produce a 'sensitivity' time line, which is basically an idea of how many earthquakes we've missed.  You can think of this as the 'resolution' of the past.  Graphs of past temperatures showing a single line do not show evidence of such an analysis, but I'm sure it's there somewhere.

Thus, we have a context problem for temperature, which is subject to ever-increasing shouting.  This problem is even more pronounced when we talk of secondary issues such as the rise rate, or slope of the temperature graph.  There is common talk of 'We have never seen such a fast temperature rise.", when in fact we have no resolution for that in the past.

I believe that the science for plotting world temperatures has been solid, but that the error has been neglected, which is bad physics.  Now, the important political issue has been the extrapolation, or what temperatures will do in the future.  This requires physics, which basically is the science of resolving fundamental forces.

Update:  I'm stopping this, since I just realized climate people on both sides truly believe they are unique.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oklahoma City continues the shimmy-shake

Ok, I wasn't going to blog unless it was over M3.5.  But an M3.1 and 3.2 together adds up.  I could never understand how they could continue to inject, and yet have such a quiet period.  Now it is over, and there is excitement once more!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beer and Coffee


This article suggests that civilization started around beer.  As an engineer and geologist, I can go with that.  But alcohol only took Western Civilization up the to the Romans.  To go further in world domination, we need stimulants.

There is a book that states guns, germs and steel were the basis of western domination.  They are wrong.  It was excessive alcohol mixed with excessive coffee.  Any other civilization had all these things, we just mixed these two substances together.  The coffee houses were the cradle of modern science, they were treating their hangovers from the night before!

Apologies to all those fine civilizations that were run over by the ethanol/caffeine juggernaut, we didn't have any control!  Now, many countries are trying to compete in the world while banning the use of one or both chemicals.  You don't have a chance!  Unfortunately I have burnt out on the stuff, and no longer feel brilliant.  Let the youngsters take over.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Weird ABS Noise

So, the brand new Toyota Highlander Hybrid makes very rude noises when braking at slow speed on uneven pavement.  Sounds like a pop can crunching or something biological.  I was thinking it was getting worse, so I took it to the dealer, and they couldn't figure it out.

Turns out that this is common, and it is the ABS happily grunting like a pig in sh*t.  Some cars may be noisier than others, but the ABS now is so sensitive that it is detecting the uneven pavement.  As well, it may be calibrating itself.

Some of the auto sites have an explanation, since this fills the Internet.  So now, instead of always blaming the dog, I've got a new one:  It's the car farting!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oceanic Underplating


I put up this link in g+ and it has created quite a stir.  Oceanic underplating is a fascinating topic, and one that has not received enough attention.  You can only really pick them up with very detailed seismic surveys, either using an array, or direct geophysics.

Why is it important?  It's because of the large carbon cycle (not the little one) as outlined in Carbon1, carbon2, and carbon3.

Now when plates collide they can do a few things.  If they are both floaties (silicas, continental crust) then they just smoosh up into mountain ranges.  Island arc complexes plate onto existing continents, as happened in the NA east.  If it is old oceanic crust, it has become more dense than the hot mantle, and plunges (causing plate pull).  This is the case up in Alaska.  The plate recycles, as in it melts and puts out volcanoes.

Oceanic crust is the great carbon store of the planet.  Most everything ends up at the bottom of the ocean, or ancient shallow seas with huge limestone deposits.  All of this gets shoved down.

It it interesting if that oceanic crust is not so old and dense, as with California.  Then it doesn't want to go down, and it plates in huge stacks of carbon and water.  We are lucky that it stores so much.

Maybe not so lucky if all the continents decide to jam together in a super continent.  (We've got a while to go before the next big party).  Then what happens?  Simple physics tells us we've got a thermal blanket, and the crust gets hot.  Lots of volcanoes, but all that carbon stacking is now melting and spewing out carbon and water.  It's the Mesozoic!  Hot, high carbon and water vapour, and the dinos rule.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Conspiracies in Science

Over at Google+ the latest thing is to cry 'Conspiracy' about the whole Al Global Gorming thing.  This has brought out all the 'Black Helicopter' people, and general Palin fans.

But I want to state clearly that there are no conspiracies in Science, only group silliness.  The very nature of the intelligent scientific mind recoils against the secrecy required.  With all the 'Climate-gate' emails, nobody said "Let's fudge the results so we get lots of money.".

With conspiracy you must assume that all the Climate-tists have seized power, and are holding on to it with dirty means.  But these people say that all the money lies with the oil companies.  Both assumptions are wrong, since having all the money does not mean that you hold the moral high ground.  Look at nuclear power!

Right now, temperatures are holding steady, and it looks like the cottage lake with be thawing later this year.  :(.   I think it is just as likely that temperatures will start plunging to a new ice age.  :)  If they do I will write my book "Of Fools and Mortal Men", which will poke lots of fun at the whole global warming thing.  The worst assumption they made is that this time the temperatures are not cyclic like they've been all the times before.  That's like saying "This time, the price of houses will go up forever.".  Global temperatures are subject to many variables, and thus follow our Plinko Game.

If, however, temperatures start to zoom up again, there will be no book, and I will say that Great Science is a messy thing, like making sausages.  Don't look into it too much.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Oil Spill in Toronto

News at 10

Who says nothing ever happens around the house!  Right in front, the garbage truck suddenly lost all its hydraulic oil.  Right into the storm sewer!  Now you can see they are putting on the powder and trying to clean it up.  And this was the recycle truck!

Monday, March 11, 2013

California M4.7 earthquake - 3 for the price of 1!

This is a fine place where everybody and their dog have a seismic array.  I'm surprised we don't hear more of seismologists crashing into each other.  This profusion creates confusion.  I suppose they all go into a room and whoever comes out alive gets to name the time and place.  And they think they'll get early warning working...  :)

Earthquake activity in the heartland

The map has been mostly yellow these days, leading me to believe that they had given up on Precambrian injection.  The map today is very active.  Action up in Illinois is always interesting, since that area produces some significant earthquakes.  Our injection sites in Texas and Ok keep going.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Alaska M5.1 earthquake

This was very shallow, and is near where they had the last significant one.  I could now plot the earthquake numeric frequency vs. the magnitude and get a straight line (leave that for somebody else :)

That basically means that for every 10 M3's, we get an M4, and for every 10 M4's we get an M5.  Actually, 10 is the normal number for most places, but this fault system is so fractal-rough, the number is much higher.

Update:  two extra M4ish earthquakes.  You can now start counting the M4's!  :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Time-share rocky horror show

Son went to the outdoors show, and somehow got on a timeshare list.  As usual it sounded like winning a prize, so when the called home, I went through some effort to get the son.  These things follow the formula from the 80's - win one of 5 prizes -- 4 of which are great, and one is a bag of dog poop.

You have to go listen for 30 minutes, and get what prize you win if you don't buy a timeshare!

I thought these things were dead!  I mean you can buy a whole house in Florida for chump change!  But, if Hollywood slavishly copies 1939's Oz, then why can't these guys?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

M3.4 earthquake Oklahoma

These earthquakes have all been surprisingly uniform in size, and the only really interesting thing is that they continue at a steady pace.  I'll only report on them from now on if they are over 3.5

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

OK continues to inject for earthquakes


The connection has caused oil and gas regulators in some states to re-evaluate how they issue permits for drilling. No such changes will be considered in Oklahoma until the state Geological Survey is more convinced of the link.  The organization’s principal seismologist, Austin Holland, is a skeptic.

Ok, and here I thought they had stopped doing this.  Good to know.

Update:  Sorry, we have to add Texas to this.

“It really hasn’t been earthquakes, it’s been seismic activity,” he said.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Earthquake Cluster Watch

Now, the monthly report on the world's weirdest clusters, namely Caribbean and Alaska.

I've never seen clusters like these, but that may only mean that we haven't had maps like these.  In the old days they may have been buried in journal articles.  If ever there was an argument that clusters don't mean much in the short term, it is here.  Not enough to get those Italian seismologists off, since I don't think science applies in Italy.  :)

Both clusters continue to progress in a very slow fractal manner.  That means the systems are 'rough' in a self-similar sense.  The Caribbean is finally breaking out of its small area, and the earthquakes are starting to get into the high 3's.  The mechanism is that of a very weird strike-slip subduction slab, since many earthquakes are quite deep.

Alaska has a more understandable mechanism - that of a subduction slab being fed by a strike-slip fault along the continent.  We must go with slab pull here.  As well, these major fault systems are extremely weak, and are only pinned at a few spots.  You can think of them as major landslides ready to go.  If we fully monitored such a zone, we would see the few pin spots.  As the landslide was progressing, these pins would break.  The first ones would create small displacement fields, but each succeeding one would ripple displacement farther out.  Finally the last ones would break, creating a total displacement ripple that would bring the failure zone to critical displacement.  Then, look out!

The fractal roughness is a measure of the pin density.  These zones have lots of pins and the cluster may go on 'forever'.  I'm expecting the last major pin in Alaska to break by the end of the year, but plus or minus a decade.  :)

New M3.5 earthquake joins Ok City with Dallas

We get the winter, they get the earthquakes.  You know there was never a single earthquake here until they started the deep injection.  This one is all by itself in a new area.  I give it 100% chance of being caused by injection.  However, in this area, we've had a lot of single events.  That either means they continue to inject and don't get any more, or they immediately stop.  Who knows?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Twin M2.7 earthquakes Alabama

Now, if they had decent seismic monitoring we would find these earthquakes to be nearly identical, and probably right along the road.  That's a nice little injection sequence.  Since they are in the middle of nowhere, we can expect them to continue injection, and we can see how big they get.  :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bell Internet Dropping

Ok, I'm in Internet-Hell!  As per the earlier post, it all looked so happy.  Not so happy now, eh Mr. Bond?  My line doesn't stay up for half an hour on weekends.  It's all so magically time dependent.  From my reading, this is the ultimate DSL Black Hex!  Nobody has ever lived out of this!  Even now they are totally ignoring me.  "Oh, there goes another one, down that big sinkhole.  Too bad."

Now, the only advice is to keep screaming, and maybe hope this post gets to somebody intelligent.  You are supposed to go through at least 5 techs until you find somebody bright.  I'll let you know how it comes out.

Update:  Saturday was a nightmare, but Sunday has been clear.  Perhaps the giant icicle has been broken at the switch house.  If it stays clear for a week, I'll certainly report, but it would be nice to know what happened.

Update2:  I'm going to call it cured for now.

Intermittent DSL Disease -- the situation where your modem frequently hangs and must be restarted.  Caused by magic, and may go away if you complain enough.

Update3:  At last I can say it was not magic!  I phoned the top guys and they said I was on a channel experiencing very heavy traffic.  I was locked into another channel.  Thank God there are bright people!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Experience your own earthquake

Open up the YouTube page.  Enter 'do the harlem shake' and wait.

Spoiler Alert!

First you get a slight buzz of the P-waves.  These are direct compression waves and travel very fast in the rock.  Then you get the S-waves!  The shaking here is so severe, you must be on soft soil, so you get basin waves which prolong the shaking.  :)

Russia earthquakes - Triplet M7ish earthquakes

You'll have to believe me that this is unusual.  It implies a great deal of strain energy at one spot.  It's an ideal precursor for an M9+ here, but the odds are still 1 in 100.  Maybe only an M8.  :)  but we usually have M6's for an M8, and M7's do the M9.

So, in the next few days, if this all dies down, then I'm a fool for even mentioning it.  Nobody else would. :)

Update:  Sorry this in the exact same place as my previous post.