Monday, October 31, 2011

Berkeley is doomed to be smothered in earthquakes!


“A student in my class tonight works in Berkeley City Hall and they have been getting briefings on the earthquakes recently in Berkeley on the Hayward Fault by geologists. They have been told that what is particularly concerning to geologists is that these have been so deep. And because of the type of fault it is, these small swarms (there was a 1.6 about an hour ago plus 2 or 3 3.6 or above) build up pressure on the fault, not reduce it. They are saying that because of these swarms they are predicting there is a 30% of an earthquake above a 6.0 in the next two to three weeks.”

Dear Berkeley,

Here is the viral internet email you should be reading.  This is the honest truth, or I'll put my hand in fire!  I have heard from a friend, of a very good friend, who has a second cousin on his mother's side, that the recent earthquakes are SIGNIFICANT!

They all agree that everybody should flee, screaming, with their hands waving over their heads.

The seismic inadequacy of zombie houses

We had a nice hike yesterday to the Elora Gorge, near Guelph, Ontario.  Elora has a whole collection of zombie houses that look like they would fare poorly in an earthquake.  Note the lack of of lateral support.  No mortar in the joints.  What PGV is required to knock this thing over?

But more importantly, what are the odds the whole thing will come down and kill all the zombies?  I figure this thing needs a PGV of about 5 cm/s to knock it down, somewhat the same as a Turkish sand building.  But Elora is on solid rock, and is on the footwall of a possible earthquake in Hamilton.  Even with my fantasy earthquake of M6.5 there, I don't think we can get more than 1 cm/s to this building.

And so it will stand, and provide much needed shelter to zombies for generations to come.  :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Peru Earthquake M6.9

Just off the wire, and this is all I know about it.  Right on the subduction zone, an M6.9 is fairly small for such a quake, could even be a foreshock for something bigger.  Shouldn't be a tsunami, and they are given a depth of 34 km.  Can't pull more than 10 cm/s PGV, I'm sure.  Unless they have houses of sand, like Turkey, this should be a non-event.

Put Fiber to Moosonee!


Come on Ontario!  Don't we want all those lovely football fields of servers?  Look at Moosonee - lots of land (muskeg, really), lots of power from the river.  We just need the fiber optic cable, up the rail line.  Perfect!  Before you know, Churchill Falls will steal it all.

Linux Google + Chipmunk Problem Solved

Most times that I went on g+ I sounded like a chipmunk.  I could hear this if I used their echo tester:

It was hilarious, I wish I recorded it!  This was solved by removing 'pulseaudio'.  Now, the connections are solid, but you still need a lot of cpu power.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Daily Show Does Science

This was highlighted on our g+ discussion and it's hilarious.

(this link is for Canada, Americans have better links)

Click on the Daily Show 'Weathering Fights'.  We recently had a discussion on university educators teaching geology in the deep south.  You had to ease into the concept of the geological time scale or they would run away.

Hayward Fault Follies

Lots of Hayward jiggles recently.  It doesn't mean a thing, but let's play the geological 'relevance' philosophical game, and say:  OMG They're all going to die!

Here's a new map I found at

Whereas the eastern version of this map puts red as within the week, they put red as within an hour!  The yellow is within the last week.  Note that everything is lining up along the fault.  As each adhesion point cracks, the fault becomes more uniform in terms of sliding potential.  We could go through several episodes like this in the next 50 years, but it is getting closer to failure.

Heritage seismic death traps


Christchurch has shown that you really can't upgrade these brick facades.  There is the problem of securing a wall of loose bricks without being ugly.  If you just use dowels, they pull out.  Other methods have not yet been tested, and I don't trust any engineering calculation.  Bye bye school.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More geology applied to philosophy


It's so common:  "Oh look, mass extinction in the past!  Must apply to today!"   "Oh look, Venus has greenhouse gases, we're going to become Venus!"  I'm sure lots of people like this....

Nuclear waste presentations continue in northern Ontario


They are continuing their presentations, and I liked this summary from Wawa.  I'm surprised they screened out Red Rock early, I wonder for what reason.  I tend to think that no northern site will be suitable, due to the presence of huge shallow dipping fractures.  These underground rivers are always reactivated during glaciations.  It is possible to get under them, but then you are in very high stresses, and the rock won't be able to take the heat from the fuel bundles.

Nevertheless, no northern community should be afraid of such a site.  It will never leak Bananas up to them.
And these communities are awash in bananas, due to the natural radioactivity of the rocks.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Google Plus hangouts destroyed by drive-by shooters

Well, it's happened.  Wonderful anti-social gang types have found a new recreation by destroying hangouts.  Unless Google can do something, I fear our geology hangouts are gone forever.  The moderator needs the ability to zap out party crashers.  I've reported the vandals to Google, but what will happen?

New Earthquake Damage Table

- no title specified
Earthquake Damage Table

PGV (cm/s)
-gargolyes fall, stone monument cracks
Virginia at Washington
-BWR reactor breaks, other reactors scram and are shut almost forever
-chimneys crack and fall
Virginia near-field
-sandcastle buildings pancake
-transfer slab condos permanently tilt
-soft storey buildings collapse
Loma Prieta
-good buildings and houses crack

Chi-Chi (Taiwan)
-cheap condos fall over
Chile near-field
Total collapse

I'm missing quite a few recent earthquakes, such as Haiti and such, because I don't know how to place them.  Very few of these earthquakes had actual measurements, which is a shame.

In different parts of the world the actual probability (per year) of getting a certain PGV varies.  In California, 5-10 cm/s would be 'every day', and thus there would not be any additional damage.  In eastern North America, 5-10 cm/s might be only 1% chance per year.

Turkey Earthquake - Estimation of ground motion

I can't find any results for strong ground motion.  I am lowering my estmate of the PGV to below 30 cm/s because of this video

Note the totally ridiculous construction (no lateral support) away from the collapse, which is untouched.  Note also that they are digging the concrete like sand.  There is barely a speck of cement powder in this stuff!  Do you see rebars sticking out?  Nope.  I'm pretty sure this would go down at 10 cm/s, just like a Japan nuclear plant.

A good building should take 50 cm/s without cracks.  As well, this earthquake was deep, perhaps over 20 km.  Had it been the usual California 5 km we would have seen massive destruction as with Haiti.  Had it been a shallow super-thrust as in Armenia, we wouldn't be seeing videos.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eastern Turkey earthquake, fun facts

We can see that right at the earthquake epicentre, we have the Arabian Plate pushing in.

GPS confirms the motions, with many recent volcanic deposits.


Looking at the videos, lots of standard buildings completely untouched.  Knowing the general construction, this gives a PGV of about 30 cm/s.  The buildings that collapsed were probably sub-standard.

Turkey Earthquake: M7.3

This is just off the wire as I woke up.  It looks really bad, but I haven't looked at the news yet.

Estimated fatalities looks in the thousands.

The city of Van was hit with an MM of 9, which has a PGV of over 100 cm/s.


Looks like it was grossly overestimated.  Only 50 injured.

Update 2

Back up to 1000, maybe more.  If there were total collapses, then not many would be taken to hospital.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Roger Dodger


His Rogers Ultimate plan, which costs $100 a month, is supposed to deliver up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps) in download speed.
But since upgrading from his Express plan at $47 a month, he’s been getting download speeds of 2 Mbps or less, apart from a few fleeting interludes of less than half an hour from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

This is just for the readers outside of Canada, to know the pain we suffer.  :)  I have Bell, and they drive me nuts, but I get a very consistent 25 mbs, which is what I pay for.  I don't even notice any throttling.  In our neighbourhood, we have the most unimproved cable lines ever, with rain shields that keep falling down.  Still, they keep trying to sell me this crap.  :)

But really, this is a criminal scandal, and only Rogers knows if they are cheating 90% of their customers.  Right now they can say this is only one in a million.  :)  The only recourse is our sluggy federal bureaucracy, and who wants them?  Class action lawsuits never work in Canada.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Virginia Earthquake: Nuclear Plant Still Closed


Poor people, if only they weren't so cheap and had installed decent seismic equipment (Ask Me!), they would have been up and running by now.  All they got now is hand waving.  Are they going to rip apart the core now?  

When you do install accelerometers and seismometers for this reason, you have to let go of all your 40 year old seismic engineering assumptions, since they clash with reality.  The best thing is to go with peak ground velocity (PGV), and correlate  that with seismic experience.  I actually wanted continuous recording so normal events, such as water bumps, could be recorded.  This allows a 'Trivial PGV' to be set, especially if the plant experiences it all the time.  It compares to measuring a live bridge or building load.  Wind, for example, can put on a load greater than seismic, and we won't have a rare earthquake, and rare wind storm at the same time.  For nuclear plants, there are major 'internal earthquakes' that they shake off all the time.

I remember that once they were in a flap about the Candu feeder tubes being damaged in an earthquake.  This was a scam to get more overtime and eventually was killed.  But, actual measurements showed normal PGV's to be over 10 times seismic.  They are not even going to notice an earthquake!


This is more fun than a barrel of bureaucrats!   Given one NRC guy's opinion, the station will never restart because it exceeded design.  Well, kiddies, it never exceeded design in terms of displacement and stress.  Can't wait to see how this plays out.

Siri, the 8 hour hack


This is an interesting tech story, which reaches down to my ancient roots as a programmer.  Apparently, Siri is a mash-up of various apps, probably spun up at the last minute.  Most of this doesn't matter, since nobody can get through to it anyway.  I had thought it was an advantage for Apple that would be unique for  a long time.  I can't imagine using something like this ---- too weird.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gujarat M5 Earthquake

Just off the wire!  Another lovely map.  This place is amazing!  Normally, the sub-continent is this big soft mush, piling on Asia to form the Himalayas.  There aren't many earthquakes in the mush, but this place is an exception.  It regularly has huge earthquakes, and nobody builds for them.  I remember a picture from the last big one of a block of housing with everything destroyed, except this one concrete house in the middle which was untouched!  I always thought that was the house of a returning engineer, and it shows that you can build good housing in India.

Fracking pulls an M4.8 earthquake out of the hat


We can expect small earthquakes in working oil fields.  Gobles in Ontario had a good swarm.  But I think the earthquakes are getting bigger and bigger.  Could this be a result of deeper injection?  Anyway, it looks like those guys in Texas had a big surprise!

Blackberry Reset

Somebody should keep a worldwide table on how many times people have to reset their Blackberry.  I find we do it a lot.  I read somewhere that one guy had to do it twice a day!

So, we are taking dance lessons, which is a great thing for old people.  :)   This is in a deep basement, which could have been a WW2 bomb shelter, it is so massive.  We've done Rumba, and working on Cha-Cha!  There is not a speck of signal down there, and when we come out the Blackberry is totally confused, and refuses to work.  It half worked when we just powered down and up, but it really needs its main shot of taking out the battery, and this is a new Torch.  Blah.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Geology Photography Techniques

Ron Shott is always experimenting with photos.  He is the main entertainment on g+, and now he has a new toy.  It's a program that takes in a lot of photos of different angles, and makes a 3d model.

Earthquake Insurance Is like the Flu Shot


Cary Mann knows a major earthquake in Southern California could be catastrophic. But Mann doesn't carry earthquake insurance on either his Cathedral City home about 115 miles east of Los Angeles or on the hair salon he co-owns there.

"None of my family has ever had it," he said. "They've always said that if there was ever going to be a 'Big One,' the damage would be so massive that the insurance would never be able to pay out to everyone."
Many in the state feel the same way. According to the Insurance Information Network of California, fewer than 12% of the state's homeowners had earthquake insurance last year, and fewer than 10% of businesses had the coverage.

I'm quite impressed with the excuses.  According to one source, standard earthquake insurance in the East has a return period of 2000 years.  In other words, the rate is set for a totally destructive event at that probability.  I don't know what the insurance rate is in California, but a destructive event can be expected every 50 years.

If you are in the east, have a brick house, and have been strongly feeling all these latest earthquakes, then you should get the insurance.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Linux Universal Underscan

My monitor blew, and I got a new HD one at Costco.  With the standard Debian nouveau driver, it does the 1 inch underscan thing automatically.  That means I get a black border around my desktop.  It is impossible to fix this!  If I use the binary nvidia blob I can probably do it.

My Xbmc setup has over-underscan sliders so it works well for the big tv.  So for the monitor, right now it is best to buy a monitor a bit bigger than you need.  :(

Monday, October 17, 2011

Linux and Google+, again

So, with 5 or 6 people on g+ hangouts, I seem to be using up 2-3 processors on the amd x6.  I also have a standard Nvidia card, and am using the nouveau drivers.  I'd love to get up to 10 people and see if the extra heatsink fan starts blasting.  I can do that on a video conversion to mp4.

I've tried running Yade (discreet elements), and can get a reasonably big simulation, but the fan only seems to bump up a little.  

So, if you want a good hangout experience, then you've got to go all the way with the big hardware for fully open Linux (no binary drivers).

British say that gas fracking causes earthquakes


Now, these are very teeensy earthquakes.  Some have argued that it is worth sacrificing Blackpool for the sake of cheap gas.  :)   The usually-required deep water injection is not mentioned here, I know that causes earthquakes.  I can't see ordinary fracking causing earthquakes unless the shale is right on top of the granitic basement.

In general, I don't see how you can continue fracking without the deep injection, but perhaps on the coast they just dump this toxic water in the ocean!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another state geological survey hived off


It's a bad time for US state geological surveys.  The states have the same economics as Greece, and are getting rid of these things.  Luckily a lot of universities are actually richer than most states, so it is a simple matter of closing the gs, and pretending it starts up in the university.  Really, are these people going to do stuff that 'benefits the state' if they aren't getting paid?

I can see the same happening to Canada's gs.  They've been starved for years, and hardly do anything.  Give the Ottawa one to Carleton, and the BC to UBC.  Nobody will notice the difference....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Earthquakes in the Azores


Again, this is posted solely for the picture!  It is a magnificent place for earthy things.  Somewhere in that mess, we had the great Lisbon earthquake.  Down a bit we have the Canary islands and their little bit of volcanic excitement.

Earthquake fault mechanics


Crazy people, doing fault friction experiments without water.  Anyway, at least somebody is looking into fault mechanics, which I have written about, and is extremely important.

Nuclear Radiation: One banana, two banana.


This is interesting.  The lesson here is to stay away from bananas!  Really, a nuclear plant or a flight might give you a lot of bananas, why add more by eating one?  :)

All the people fight a nuclear waste site because they don't like bananas.  If you have a granite counter-top in the house, that's equivalent to a few bananas, for sure!

Earthquake near Bali

This one goes on the board simply because of the exotic location.  Look at that subduction zone!  That's ready for an M8 any old day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pimping the old computer

So, I kept the atx case, I seem to keep them forever.  I bought a new motherboard Asus M5A87 with am3+, and an amd 6x, with some new ddr3 memory, and a new disk drive.

I've never had it so easy!  No mb shorts, no memory incompatibility.  It all zoomed right up!  I'm installing Debian right now.  I wonder what 6 processors can do.  I'm really hoping it can take care of my google+ hangout problems.

Japan radiation map

This is really interesting.  I would think the blue zone would follow the red, but there seems to be a blue band that may have been there from before.  There is also an isolated pocket near Tokyo.


Geology conferences become silly


At meetings of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in 2009 and 2010, young-Earth creationists, who think Noah's flood was a historical event and the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, presented posters, gave talks and led field trips.

Geology Under Attack!  I'm just funnin' here, for the amusement of my geology friends.

To be nice, geologists seem to spend most of their lives unemployed, and these people pay the big bucks.  :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Zotac video player working

So, I bought a Zotac Zbox barebones case.  Barebones means you add memory and a disk drive, which is real simple here.  As well, you easily avoid the windows tax.

Then I got XBMC Live, which you put on a cd-rom.  If you run it on your existing system (live doesn't hurt anything!), then you can create a bootable usb stick for the zotac.  It installed very nicely.  Now I got something that shows videos at 720p, handles subtitles, and mkv (which the ps3 stinks at), and good youtube videos.  The ps3 is still good for the son, and his games.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Linux computer upgrade

My main computer can't take the google+ hangouts very well.  It racks it up to full power, and most of the time it just craps out.  Now, I'm putting in all new stuff in the old case, with a top amd x6, and other goodies.  Hope it's all worth it.  I'll do it after I get my xbmc media computer working.

Friday, October 7, 2011

California earthquake liability shift


One the US's problems is the huge amount of middle-class entitlements, and here is another one.  Reinsurance rates have gone up after New Zealand, and these people want to cut down the costs.  What better way than to stick all the risk on the feds?  It's difficult to figure out, but I guess the feds must pay if there is an earthquake, since they are 'backing' it.  Nobody takes out earthquake insurance in California, since they assume the feds will pay for everything, anyway.

Remember, if you are on a swamp, like all of Christchurch, then get earthquake insurance!  

Virginia earthquake update

I think we're beginning to see the improvement in seismic instrumentation.  Of course, there may be better stuff inside the paywall, but we'll never see it!

The events towards the lake (which I think is responsible) have formed a very neat little cluster.  If you had sufficient seismometers you might see the phenomenon of 'identical siblings'.  This is where the seismic traces on all instruments are identical for 2 or more events.  When you see that, you know it is due to fluid movement, since this has been seen in injected oil fields.

People think this is over for another thousand years, but this fault movement has put strain on the boundaries, and it could generate more significant earthquakes.  Better get that monument fixed fast!

Niagara tunnel costs secret for years

Well, the Ontario election is over.  I'm disappointed that the books will never open on the Niagara Tunnel.  I estimate we're well over 4 billion now, what with that latest rock fall.  Hudak ran the worst campaign in history!   :(

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Montreal Corruption Bridge to Go Up


This bridge is such a seismic death trap!  Can you imagine it in an earthquake?  I'll love when they take it down and see if it is made of wallpaper paste instead of concrete.  My old friend was a bridge/tunnel engineer in Montreal, during the time of mass-corruption.  He was too far removed to see if the concrete was subbed, but the later mafia-esque takeover of English engineering firms is quite a story!

Of course the new bridge will as pure as the driven snow......

But really, only an earthquake can expose construction corruption.

Argentina Earthquake - M6.2

I just like the picture!  This is on the inside of the mountain range, it's shallow, and very isolated.  So, we'll probably have landslides.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chalk River seismic death trap goes on and on


Yes, kiddies, you can't kill the beastie!  Here I was hoping that next year would be the end, but now it goes on.  Probably in 2016, they'll extend the deadline again, since nobody is building another isotope factory.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Professional Hit Blogger


Now we know how bloggers can get paid!  They become ninja-bloggers and work for some insidious organization.  No bag man has come to me!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Italian Earthquake Coke

The only way to overcome that, he continued, is through constant communication. Once-a-year earthquake drills, like those in California, are not enough. The messages have to be everywhere, repeated ad nauseam.
“If you want to sell earthquake preparation in a way that it affects human behavior,” he said, “you have to sell it like Coca-Cola.”

They also said that humans are hard-wired to ignore rare, high-impact events, and I believe that.  So I don't think you could sell your bottle of doom anyway!  As well, you could go on trial if the event did or did not happen.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More earthquakes near an injection well


I have no idea where this place is!  Somewhere near Glee, I suppose.  There's a wonderfully active zone at Anna, Ohio.  So, let them continue to inject, we'll have these coincidental earthquakes, and lets see if a mechanism-dragon rises.....

Virginia earthquake nuclear plant still closed


This is totally following the Perry nuclear plant script.  As we recall, Perry was exposed to the exact same ground motions, but was in hot testing for startup, rather than actually operating.  There were many lessons to be learned there, all of which fell off the nuclear duck's back.

We wrote an opinion piece that nuclear plants should beef up their seismic instrumentation to avoid this in the future.  Boy, did I get into trouble for that, with the evil ones.

We wait and see how this plays out.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Computer cooking show - Bye-bye PS3

I just put this over on google+.

So, I have to dump the ps3 as a video player, since they are walking down the dark path, and those guys know no limits! I'm soon going to get this barebones mini computer, and I have to put in the pieces, and boot up xbmc (a linux player). So I thought wouldn't it be great to do a live hangout, just like the 50's cooking shows. Who knows what will go wrong! I'm worried about boring stretches, like fumbling with the packaging, but if there are enough people, they can tell their computer horror stories. I'm really hanging on the edge for this, and wonder whether I should just do an edited youtube video.

More stuff to blame on seismic testing


Marine seismic surveys have been blamed for everything from acne to hair loss.  Now they cause earthquakes!

On another continent, land vibroseis continues to gather complaints, but Texas foundations are shit! You can see the slabs are cracked after a big tornado wipes away all the houses...