Thursday, December 11, 2008

Back to Earthquakes

I posted back in November ( dang how time flies) my experience in the Loma Prieta Quake of 1989.

I'm targeting these quake posts for all of you in the mid section of this country who may not have had experiences with quakes. There has been some speculation of the New Madrid fault line letting go again.

The New Madrid quake of December, 1811 was the largest recorded earthquake experienced to date in the United States. There are estimates being made that it was at least 10 on today's Richter Scale. The quake was centered in New Madrid, Missouri. It destroyed the town (some reports state that houses and occupants were swallowed by the earth), caused the Mississipi River to run BACKWARDS, and rang church bells as far away as Boston.

The link for an explanation of the Richter Scale has some math associated with it, but don't let it put you off. The important thing to walk away with is that the scale is logarithmic and not linear. There is a section toward the bottom of the page that equates earthquake magnitudes to explosives (for those of you who love explosives as much as I do). When you look at that, keep in mind the Loma Prieta Quake was estimated at anywhere between a 7.0 and 7.2. The New Madrid is guestimated at being a 10. See how much more TNT you would need? That's the magic of log functions!

You can read an eyewitness account of what transpired in New Madrid here.

There is also an account of a Kentucky resident. You can read it here.

I admit that I found the Kentucky account somewhat humorous when I read it. My father was originally a farm boy from Pennsylvania and sometimes he would lapse into speaking in a similar manner.

The US Geological Survey maintains a web page that shows earthquake activity across the country and around the world. You can view it here.

Looking at it? Good.

See the map of the US? See all the activity around California, Alaska and Hawaii? And the rest of the country is bare....except for..... yes, click on those dots on the border of Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. The dots will tell you where, when, and the magnitude of the quakes.

There is a geologist named James Berkland who runs a website that predicts earthquakes. He was suspended by the state of California for predicting, accurately, the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. His other predictions have been similarly successful. Take a peek at his site and look at his track record.

He has stated publicly that we are now in a window for earthquake activity based on the fact that the moon is at perigee tomorrow, December 12, 2008. The close proximity of the moon to the Earth will increase tidal forces which seem to influence quake activity.

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