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11 September 2014

Lurching ground and bouncing bridges in the Napa earthquake

My rides along Amtrak California’s Capitol Corridor now include an eerie stretch where they pass the site at which the highest ground motions in the Napa earthquake were recorded mere weeks ago. Just at the south abutments of the I-80 bridges over the Carquinez Strait, where the Union Pacific tracks pass through the C&H refinery, a shallow borehole seismometer recorded an acceleration of 0.99g, nearly the full force of gravity lurching soil and …

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30 August 2014

Earthquake rupture through a U.S. suburb

In the quiet wee hours of a NorCal summer night, the ground lurched beneath the mud of the northern San Francisco Bay and sent seismic waves roaring upward and outward into the world-famous wine valley’s central city, Napa, CA. After they wreaked their havoc in Napa and nearby communities the seismic waves spread farther afield and gently rumbled most of the Bay Area and its exurbs from our weekend slumber. By the time …

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6 August 2014

Yunnan earthquake: images of the valley blocking landslides

The government mapping agency in China has released satellite images of landslides triggered by the Yunnan earthquake earlier this week

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5 August 2014

Valley-blocking landslides: latest from Sunkoshi and Yunnan, and a brief update on the Malin landslide in India

Unusually there are two valley-blocking landslides causing concerns at present, in Nepal & China, whilst recovery operations at Malin in India continue

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16 June 2014

Watch buildings move during earthquakes

Through literal eons of Earth’s history, earthquakes have heaved the ground, shuddered the trees, and sent fauna scurrying. Yet aside from the occasional tsunami and the localized sloughing of rock faces and hillsides, they’d never really been directly injurious to the animal kingdom. …Until the animals started “sheltering” themselves under ponderous weights of precarious things. As the adage goes, “earthquakes don’t kill people; buildings do.” That edifice that so importantly protects you …

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16 May 2014

An earthquake live at the symphony

Earthquakes have been orchestrated in some of the most important musical works of the past two centuries (take for example the close of the first part of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, or the 5th movement of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony); now in some musical works the orchestras have been quaked. On March 29, 2014, the L.A. Philharmonic was performing Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé at Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, when a 5.1 earthquake jostled …

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18 April 2014

What would the 1906 earthquake look like today?

Today is the 108th anniversary of the devastating M7.8 San Francisco earthquake. As with any “quakiversary” it’s a ripe opportunity for reflection on how earthquake knowledge and engineering have progressed since we learned from that disaster, and to consider how we would fare if faced with the same catastrophe today. One powerful way to consider how modern-day San Francisco would fare in a repeat of the 1906 quake is by …

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2 April 2014

Monstrous earthquake in Chile… as it unfolds

The northern coast of Chile has been struck by a Great earthquake this evening, shaking the South America continent for hundreds of miles and thrusting a tsunami onshore and across the Pacific Ocean. Notably, this earthquake occurred in a well known seismic gap, the sole reach of South America’s Pacific coast subduction zone that did not rupture in the 20th (or 21st) century. In that sense, this was one of …

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28 March 2014

The second largest quake on the planet: photos, videos, and its informative legacy

As I am sure everyone has recognized by now, one of the biggest earthquakes recorded in our planet’s history–and the biggest in the United States–rocked Alaska for some three+ minutes 50 years ago today. The 1964 Good Friday earthquake, known also as the Great Alaska earthquake, measured magnitude 9.2. The earthquake shocked the fledgling state with catastrophic environmental effects, including most notably the lateral-spreading collapse of entire neighborhoods in the capital …

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12 March 2014

Tohoku tsunami maps: lessons for the Pacific Northwest

As we pass the three-year mark since one of the most astoundingly gargantuan earthquakes in human history, we marvel at the unprecedented opportunity it gave us to understand earthquakes, tsunamis, oceanic subduction, litho-hydro-atmospheric coupling, plate tectonics, and the Earth itself. We can also appreciate, with humble reverence, the lessons it continues to teach us about the social dimensions of disaster trauma, risk, and resilience. Japan continues to struggle, now largely …

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10 March 2014

UBC distinguished lecture powerpoint file: Earthquake-induced landslides – lessons from Taiwan, Pakistan, China and New Zealand

The powerpoint file from my UBC Geological Engineering Distinguished Lecture on Earthquake Induced Landslides

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18 February 2014

How hard has your zip code shaken?

Did you feel it? …Ever? These USGS maps show the highest shaking intensity reported in every zip code throughout the U.S. (and cities of the world) in the past two decades. 1991 – 2012  The USGS’s crowd-sourced Community Internet Intensity Maps, popularly known as “Did-You-Feel-It” maps, have been collecting online surveys of seismic shaking intensity since 1997. There’ve been plenty of quakes in that time, and in 2012 researchers put together …

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14 February 2014

Xinjiang earthquake: a good new image of the landslides

Another image has emerged of landslides triggered by the Xinjiang earthquake yesterday

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13 February 2014

Xinjiang: Landslides from the M=6.9 earthquake in NW China yesterday

On 12 February 2014 a Mw=6.9 earthquake struck Xinjiang in China. Images are emerging of some of the landslides that it triggered.

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5 February 2014

Stunning HD videos show volcanoes erupting … gorgeously

As the Tectonic Plates bend, creak, snap, and rattle in earthquakes, blobs of heated rock rise through them from within and punch through the surface, puffing out vast clouds of rock dust and volatile gas, and pouring out mounds upon mounds of hardening molten rock. Volcanoes may fall under the purview of some other realms of the blogosphere, but a spate of recent videos are just too stunning (and informative!) …

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27 January 2014

Port Hills, Christchurch: demolishing the rockfall threatened houses

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority will today start the process of demolishing the houses in the Port Hills that have been affected by, or are threatened by, rockfalls

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16 January 2014

Two decades since L.A.’s Northridge earthquake

It’s already been twenty years since Los Angeles was last really rocked by an earthquake. The 4:31am Northridge temblor, a magnitude 6.7 that literally threw the city from its sleep, was the iconic natural disaster of the 1990s and the last in a string of quakes, fires, and mudslides to pummel Los Angeles in the early half of the decade. Though violent, destructive, and memorable, the Northridge quake struck merely …

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11 January 2014

New map of Hollywood fault released

Amid an atmosphere of contention and high stakes, the California Geological Survey this week released a preliminary official map of the Hollywood Fault, one of the most threatening urban earthquake faults in the U.S. The map ( available in PDF format here ) delineates the best estimate surface trace of the Hollywood fault, which forms the southern boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains in urban Los Angeles. It also defines a “special …

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17 December 2013

The 500 cubic kilometre landslide that we all missed – triggered by the Tohoku earthquake

A NERC press release today suggests that the tsunami triggered by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake was exacerbated by a 500 cubic kilometre submarine landslide

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10 December 2013

Hey, it’s weird up here – there must be an earthquake in the atmosphere

Months before the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, warning signs could be detected hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface, according to new data presented Monday at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. There were strange disturbances in a layer of the atmosphere called the ionosphere up to one month before the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, according to Pierre-Richard Cornely, an atmospheric …

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