reply to post by wasobservingquietly
Hi WOQ (and hi everyone),
my apologies for not contributing lately. I just needed some time out from the prediction aspect of things and in fact have posted very little on ATS
at all lately.
Regarding your query about that other thread: yes, I saw it last night and have been reading through it. I find it encouraging that there are several
members there who are willing to show their support for the esoteric/non-scientific angle of quake prediction. Meanwhile I've also been regularly
lurking on the Quake Watch thread and it's interesting to see the results that SpaceJockey has been getting with the predictions he's been posting
Now, to the main issue, namely the likelihood of a major quake somewhere in the world in the very near future. By "major" I mean it would
have to be something around magnitude 8 or bigger, as quakes in the mag 7 range occur (on average) once or twice a month anyway,
whereas mag 8-plus quakes can only be expected maybe once or twice a year. Some years in recent history had no mag 8-plus quakes at all, others have
had as many as four, but on average 1 or 2 is normally about it.
Well, as most of you know, there were two mag 8 quakes in the Indonesia region quite recently. Statistically, those two quakes alone easily meet the
"average yearly number" for such events world-wide, but seeing as our planet has no real interest in stats or averages, there is no reason why we
can't have more. Simply put, we can't use statistics as a valid argument in determining if there will or will not be any more mag 8-plus quakes this
Getting back to the concept of "major" quakes, there is a conundrum: the Haiti quake of Jan 2010, which was the deadliest in many years in terms of
casualties from quake damage alone (and not from a massive tsunami), was "only" a magnitude 7.0 (Mw). Had it been a mag 8, the devastation and death
toll would have been far, far worse. On the other hand, Japan's mag 9.0 of March 2011, which was 100 times worse in terms of shaking and 1,000 times
more powerful in terms of energy released than the Haiti quake, resulted in maybe 5% to 10% of the casualties of the Haiti event -- and many of those
casualties resulted from the tsunami rather than the shaking by the quake itself.
How many deaths will result from the ongoing Fukushima disaster is another matter entirely -- and the truth about that may never be known.
Here's the problem: basically, I have just compared apples and oranges. Yes, both the Haiti and Japan quakes are "fruits" of movement and energy
release in the Earth's crust, but beyond that, they are completely different. Haiti's quake occurred virtually under the city that was devastated;
the Japan quake was beneath the sea. Haiti's quake involved slip along a fault, while Japan's was a subduction zone megathrust event.
And besides the physical differences in the quakes, we have to consider the regions themselves from the human perspective. Japan is a rich nation,
with excellent building codes (and low levels of corruption in enforcing those codes), possibly the best public early-warning system in the world, a
population who are trained in how to react to quakes and who expect them to occur
and a well-organized and integrated post-quake disaster
relief and rescue program.
Haiti is one of the poorest nations, with building codes that are poorly enforced, large numbers of overcrowded, older residential buildings in bad
condition, a population that had no real level of quake preparedness because they didn't expect to have one
, far less effective resue services
-- and frankly a rather inadequate government chain-of-command structure to deal with such a disaster anyway.
So with any major quake, it's not just a matter of "how big", but where -- and how well the population and authorities are prepared to deal with
This is why I worry about the US -- be it the California region, the Pacific Northwest with its Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ), or the New Madrid
Seismic Zone (NMSZ). While Cal has pretty good building codes and retrofitting of older buildings is an ongoing project, it has now been more than two
decades since the Loma Prieta event (mag 6.9 Mw) and I quail to think how they'd deal with anything much over a mag 7. Recent research indicates a
mag 8.2 or thereabouts is possible in the SoCal region, but frankly even a mid-7 quake could be horrendous.
And the PNW? It's been 312 years since the last Japan-style megathrust event off the coast there, and the next one, when it finally comes, could well
bring a tsunami like Japan's. Are they really prepared for a tsunami that could be more than 50 feet high in some places, and the shaking from a
quake that could go on for six or seven minutes or even more? I don't think so and it's a huge worry.
(Continued in next post.)