megaquakes

Could California’s Recent Heavy Rainfall Trigger A Big Earthquake?

“20 inches of rain, 12 feet of snow finally end 5-year drought in N. California”

USA TODAY website, January 12, 2017

“Drenched: How L.A. went from bone-dry to 216% of normal rainfall in four months”

Los Angeles Times website, January 23, 2017

“Parts Of California See 300 Percent Of Normal January Rainfall”

-CBS Los Angeles website, January 24, 2017

“Flooding rain, mountain snow to pound western US into the weekend”

-AccuWeather.com, February 2, 2017

It’s been some time since I last blogged about California and its earthquake threat. And just recently, I learned there could be a connection between heavy rainfall and big earthquakes (hat-tip Armstrong Economics Blog).

Considering the deluge California received last month (with more coming, by the sounds of it), I wonder if the odds of a major tremblor happening soon have increased in “The Golden State”?

Richard A Lovett reported on the National Geographic website back on December 15, 2011:

Heavy rainfall can trigger earthquakes in what one scientist calls “disaster triggering disaster.”

Shimon Wdowinski, of the University of Miami in Florida, first noticed a connection between storms and earthquakes last year.

The devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti in early 2010 came only 18 months after Haiti had been deluged by several hurricanes and tropical storms.

And another large earthquake, a magnitude 6.4 temblor that rocked Taiwan in 2009, occurred only seven months after the area had been hit by Typhoon Morakot, which dropped 9.5 feet (2.9 meters) of rain in five days. Hurricanes are called typhoons in parts of Asia.

To test the rainfall-earthquake link, Wdowinski dug through the past 50 years of earthquake and weather records for Taiwan, an island that experiences a lot of severe rainstorms and earthquakes.

He found that a magnitude 7.6 earthquake had struck in 1999, only three years after Typhoon Herb soaked Taiwan with 6.6 feet (2 meters) of rain.

Overall, his analysis revealed that Taiwan’s large earthquakes- deemed as magnitude 6 and higher- were five times more likely to occur within four years after such storms than if the storms had had no effect

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

According to Dr. Wdowinski, erosion from landslides is the main culprit, which lessens stress on underlying rocks, therefore making it easier for a fault to move.

Back on January 23, Matt Hamilton and Hailey Branson-Potts reported on the Los Angeles Times website:

After another round of heavy rains soaked parts of California, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency late Monday for several counties dealing with an estimated tens of million dollars in damage from flooding, erosion, and mud flows…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I wonder what Professor Wdowinski’s take on California’s situation would be?

Hopefully, nothing to worry about.

You can read that National Geographic article here on the magazine’s website. Very interesting stuff.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Branson-Potts, Hailey and Hamilton, Matt Hamilton. “Gov. Brown declares state of emergency after storms cause flooding, erosion, highway damage.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Jan. 2017. (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-la-rain-monday-20170123-story.html). 2 Feb. 2017.

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Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 Asia, Emergencies, Natural Disasters, Science, Weather No Comments

Latest Prediction Of What California’s ‘Big One’ Might Look Like

Recently, I’ve talked a bit about what some earthquake experts suspect might happen to California when the “Big One” strikes.

I blogged about Dr. Lucy Jones, the “Earthquake Lady,” in December.

Then I wrote about Dr. Katherine Scharer and a disturbing $200 billion national economic loss projection in March.

A couple of days ago, I came across the following on The Week website. Frances Weaver reported on April 19:

Today, geologists say, there’s a 99.7 percent chance of a Big One of at least magnitude 6.7 striking California within the next three decades, with Southern California most at risk. Fears that a big quake is imminent in Los Angeles were stoked in March when two earthquakes, including a magnitude-5.1 quake in La Habra, cracked walls, triggered landslides, and sent furniture flying. “Sooner or later there’s going to be the Big One,” says U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) seismologist Kate Hutton.

How bad would it be?
“You would see buildings collapse, you’d see people trapped, you’d see roadways collapse,” said Kelly Huston of California’s Office of Emergency Services. “You’d see widespread destruction.” Under the USGS’s crisis scenario for a magnitude-7.8 temblor in Southern California, the soil-filled Los Angeles Basin would turn into a violently trembling Jell-O, causing major highways and airport runways to buckle, water and sewer pipes to crack, electrical and gas lines to sever, and thousands of fires to break out across the region. Those blazes could then be whipped into a frenzy by the Santa Ana winds. Fiber-optic cables running across the San Andreas would be torn apart, and infrastructure would take months, if not years, to repair. The hospitals would be swamped by 50,000 injured people, and at least 1,800 would die….

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Truly disturbing. And according to Weaver, it’s a fault line other than the San Andreas that could be more costlier and deadlier. She added:

What about other fault lines?
Though seismologists have long dreaded a San Andreas–based quake, experts now fear that a tremor on the Puente Hills fault line could cause as much — if not more — damage. Running from the suburbs of northern Orange County straight through the densest neighborhoods of the Los Angeles Basin, a 7.5 quake on the Puente Hills line would affect millions — including downtown L.A.’s 4 million residents alone — killing up to 18,000 people, causing $250 billion in damage, and leaving as many as 750,000 households homeless, according to the USGS. “This is the fault that could eat L.A.,” said USGS seismologist Sue Hough…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis )

$200 billion national economic loss projection?

Make that $250 billion if ground zero for the “Big One” happens to be on the Puente Hills fault line.

It’s a seismic feature I’ve never heard of until now, but it’s making headlines these days in the midst of all the recent shaking going on in North America. Rong-Gong Lin II reported on the Los Angeles Times website on March 29:

Experts say a major, magnitude 7.5 earthquake on the fault could do more damage to the heart of Los Angeles than the dreaded Big One on the San Andreas fault, which is on the outskirts of metropolitan Southern California…

The Puente Hills fault could be especially hazardous over a larger area because of its shape. Other local faults, like the Newport-Inglewood and Hollywood, are a collection of vertical cracks, with the most intense shaking occurring near where the fault reaches the surface. The Puente Hills is a horizontal fault, with intense shaking likely to be felt over a much larger area, roughly 25 by 15 miles…

One reason for the dire forecast is that both downtown L.A. and Hollywood are packed with old, vulnerable buildings, including those made of concrete, [USGS seismologist Lucy] Jones said.

Lin added that scientists believe the Puente Hills fault has a major earthquake roughly every 2,500 years. Unfortunately, they don’t know when the last major trembler was.

Here’s hoping Californians- particularly those in the southern portion of the state- are not only keeping abreast of all this info (I understand Puente Hills was only discovered in 1999), but acting on it as well.

Thankfully, I know of a few who are

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Weaver, Frances. “When will the Big One strike California?” The Week. 19 Apr. 2014. (http://theweek.com/article/index/260116/when-will-the-big-one-strike-california). 12 May 2014.

Lin II, Rong-Gong. “La Habra quake a reminder about dangerous Puente Hills fault.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Mar. 2014. (http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/29/local/la-me-0330-quake-puentehills-20140330) 12 May 2014.

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‘Earthquake Storm’ To Descend Upon Coastal California?

There’s plenty of talk about California earthquakes right now after two significant seismic events recently struck the southern part of the state. And I happened to come across a real interesting article on The Christian Science Monitor website the other day that speculates the California coast may soon be visited by “earthquake storms.”

Earthquake what?

Randy Dotinga recently talked to geophysicist John Dvorak, author of a new book entitled Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault. From their exchange:

Q: What is an “earthquake storm”?

A: During the last few decades, it has been realized that earthquakes do not occur randomly, nor do they occur like clockwork.

Instead, earthquakes, even large ones, tend to cluster in time and space. An earthquake storm is when there is a cluster of large earthquakes in a region occur over a period of several decades…

Q: How does California fit into the world of earthquake storms?

A: Most of the motion between the Pacific and North American plates occurs along coastal California. In the last hundred years, there has been only one significant earthquake along those plates: the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, also known as the World Series earthquake.

But during the previous hundred years before that, there were five significant earthquakes along the California coast, in 1812, 1838, 1857, 1868, and 1906.

Large earthquakes are the major means by which seismic energy gets released after building up between the two tectonic plates. And so one or more large earthquakes are in California’s future. It is a matter of when…

Back on March 3, I brought up earthquake expert Dr. Katherine Scharer, who warned in a February presentation that an 8.0 Southern California “megaquake” would not only devastate the local infrastructure, but cause a national economic loss potentially surpassing $200 billion.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Dotinga, Randy. “Is California overdue for a big earthquake?” The Christian Science Monitor. 28 Mar. 2014. (http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2014/0328/Is-California-overdue-for-a-big-earthquake). 1 Apr. 2014.

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Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 Infrastructure, Natural Disasters No Comments

Los Angeles Named In Top 10 Most Risky Cities List

Speaking of U.S. metropolitan areas I’d be uncomfortable living in due to some significant threat to life, limb, and property, anyone hear about that overall top 10 most risky cities list just put out by the world’s second-largest reinsurance company, Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd (Swiss Re)? Chris Michael reported on the website of The Guardian (UK) earlier today:

What are the world’s riskiest cities when it comes to natural disasters? For the insurance industry it seems an ever-more urgent question, so last year one reinsurance company set out to assess 616 cities around the world for their risk of earthquake, hurricanes and cyclones, storm surge, river flooding and tsunami. Here are Swiss Re’s overall top 10 most risky cities…

I’m not going to steal the British newspaper’s thunder here, but get a load of number 9 on Swiss Re’s list:

9) Los Angeles, United States: Its location on the San Andreas Fault makes Los Angeles one of the most earthquake-prone cities – although not as vulnerable to tsunami as might be expected. Subduction zones, where oceanic plates dive underneath the continental crust, generally create much larger tsunamis than so-called “strike-slip” faults such as the San Andreas and Northern Anatolian faults. Small comfort to the 14.7 million residents of the area threatened by earthquake…


“KTLA St Patricks Day Earthquake 3/17/2014”
YouTube Video

While an L.A. megaquake would definitely suck, I’ve been hearing more concern lately about a similar threat much further up the coast- which I’ll blog about in the coming days.

In the meantime, you can view the rest of the list here on The Guardian website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 Insurance, Natural Disasters No Comments

Expert: Southern California Megaquake Possible, Economic Loss Could Exceed $200 Billion

Back around the holidays I blogged about what Dr. Lucy Jones- dubbed the “Earthquake Lady” by some- is saying these says about the “Big One” hitting Southern California.

The other day I came across another earthquake expert talking about a potential megaquake along the San Andreas fault line. Dr. Katherine Scharer gave a presentation last Wednesday night at the San Bernardino County Museum entitled “Frequency of earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault: evidence from the trenches.” From Phill Courtney of the Redlands Daily Facts on February 27:

One of the most important questions that’s now being asked, Scharer said, is the length of a possible rupture on the San Andreas, and whether a single quake could extend from the Salton Sea, on through the San Gorgonio Pass, and then to the middle of the Mojave Desert. This is the 8.0 quake that so many of the experts fear.

Current thinking, Scharer revealed, is that it could, with a devastating effect not only on Southern California’s infrastructure, but a staggering national economic loss that might exceed $200 billion.

To drive that message home, Scharer showed a moving graphic with a red glow spreading up the fault over the roughly two minutes of real time that the quake would last, along with a landscape “shaking like a bowl of jelly,” as Scharer described it. The display brought gasps from the audience, mixed with some decidedly nervous laughter.

Scharer concluded by reminding her audience that the patterns reveal trends but no specifics, because quakes “don’t happen like clockwork. The other thing to take home is that it has been a long time since the last earthquake. So are San Andreas Fault earthquakes overdue?”

The answer appears to be yes

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

$200 billion national economic loss. Wow. Just wow.

Like I wrote back on December 12:

Keep those earthquakes preparations going at full throttle, Californians. And visit The Great California Shakeout website– among other earthquake preparedness online resources- if you haven’t already.

After all, it’s only a matter of time before the “Big One” strikes.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Courtney, Phill. “Earthquake presentation shakes up audience at San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands.” Redlands Daily Facts. 27 Feb. 2014. (http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/general-news/20140227/earthquake-presentation-shakes-up-audience-at-san-bernardino-county-museum-in-redlands). 3 Mar. 2014.

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