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23 April 2014

Keep calm, carry on and prepare

Written by John Schelling, Washington State Emergency Management The invitation to contribute my perspective on tsunami risk reduction efforts to “The Bridge” arrived on my tablet as I sat in the Snohomish County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Everett, Washington. There I was—working as part of the response and recovery effort to a major landslide (the Oso landslide, which occurred at 10:37 a.m. on March 22)–and presented with the question, …

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12 December 2013

Holy city of Islam lies in volcanic peril

Researchers have designed a new model to predict the riskiest areas of Al-Madinah, the second holy city of Islam that sits at the northern tip of a dangerous volcanic field. The model could improve evacuation and building planning for the city.

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30 May 2012

My article on prediction of natural hazard events

You might be interested in an article that I have in the Guardian today on the pros and cons of prediction of natural hazards, and in particular of earthquakes.

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16 December 2011

AGU 2011: Days 4 & 5

As per the usual pattern of AGU blogging, I’ve been trying to get caught up with other things after returning from AGU, so naturally I’m only getting to writing about the meeting a week after it happened. I’d better finish this up at some point, so I’ll combine Thursday and Friday’s activities into one post (and then move on to posting photos from San Francisco, which has some fabulous geology that I finally got to check out in my spare time).

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6 December 2011

AGU 2011: Days 0 & 1

AGU’s Fall Meeting is always a full-time job, and the beginning of the meeting is no exception. My week actually started Sunday night: I attended the first gathering of AGU’s student representatives, where we discussed our roles and how we will be developing them along with our sections’ Executive Committees. The Volcanology, Geochemistry and Petrology section (which I am the new student rep for) meets on Wednesday, and I hope …

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2 December 2011

Teaching the teachers: Activities for a plate tectonics workshop

A few weeks ago, I helped co-teach a plate tectonics workshop with a fellow UB geo grad. The workshop was intended as sort of a continuing education credit for local middle school science teachers, and rather than talk at them the whole time, we decided to have the teachers try out some activities that they could adapt for their classes. Plate tectonics is a pretty broad topic, and we covered everything from the history and development of the idea to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Because we had so much to cover (it was a six-hour workshop), we did three activities – one about sea-floor spreading, one about viscosity (to go along with the volcanology bit where we talk about magma type controlling landform appearance) and one that tied seismology and subduction together.

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4 May 2011

The Earth is out to get you!

Just a quick post today before I go enjoy some birthday mimosas. The New York Times has an interesting new infographic about where you should live to avoid natural disasters – namely hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Here are the maps (click to see the full size, readable version): Buffalo actually falls in an area of mild earthquake risk; we’ve had a few small earthquakes since I’ve moved here, and it’s …

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16 April 2011

“In the Arena” Ignores Technical Problems at Yucca Mountain

The cable television program In the Arena hosted by Eliot Spitzer is on CNN weeknights from 8 to 9. I think it’s a good news show and try to watch regularly. The last couple of nights, they’ve had segments on nuclear waste storage presented by CNN reporter Drew Griffin. The reports have been unbalanced, in my opinion, due to the absence of any information from scientists familiar with the technical …

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23 March 2011

Earthquakes and eruptions II: Long-term triggering

Statistical analysis and volcano monitoring has established that there are both eruptions which were likely triggered by large earthquakes, and given us some plausible mechanisms for how this might happen, although this is still a rather rare event. Ron Schott brought up an interesting point in a comment, however: The mechanisms that I discussed are generally regarded as operating in the short-term – i.e., a few days to weeks after an earthquake (perhaps even a few months). But what about long-term earthquake triggering – are there connections between volcanic eruptions and earthquakes which happened years before? Are there any plausible mechanisms for long-term triggers, and how would they operate? I did a little research to see if I could find answers to either of these questions.

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12 March 2011

Why earthquakes and eruptions are rarely linked

The geoblogosphere – and the rest of the news – have been buzzing with information and discussion about the recent M8.9 earthquake in Japan. Despite being a country that is relatively well-prepared for events like these, even Japan couldn’t withstand the power of such a quake and the resulting tsunami, and they will need help. Please consider donating to a relief organization such as the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, …

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23 February 2011

Archival Gold: National Geophysical Data Center Natural Hazard Images

The media focus on the recent earthquake in New Zealand put me in mind of a resource that I turn to for photos of events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and landslides. The National Geophysical Data Center’s Natural Hazards Images website is a repository for a number of fantastic slidesets of these natural phenomena, and some of the slides are pretty famous images. They’re all available as high-resolution TIFF files, and each image comes with a detailed caption relating its subject to a natural process or hazard. The images are collected from government organisations such as NOAA and the USGS, as well as universities and press organizations.

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3 March 2010

Some better tsunami coverage

I know there’s been a general feeling of disgust in the geoblogosphere about the coverage of the recent Chilean earthquake and its associated tsunami. Fortunately, a few news channels have managed to get hold of geologists and actually listen to them properly. And hey, if it happens to have been my undergraduate advisor, even better! This is a clip of my undergrad advisor (Dr. Chuck Bailey of the College of …

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14 January 2010

Richter or not?

Most of you have probably heard about the earthquake that occurred in Haiti on Tuesday. It’s shaping up to be a huge disaster, especially since it occurred in an area that hasn’t seen a major earthquake for centuries; when natural disasters haven’t occurred within living memory, people become unprepared to deal with them. The poverty of most of the millions of Haitians who were affected has only made it worse, …

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21 February 2009

Using Google Earth to visualize volcanic and seismic activity

I haven’t been posting much lately (teaching labs and trying to wrap my head around volcano seismology is eating up my free time), but I have been trying to keep up with new developments. One really neat one is the release of the newest Google Earth and the Oceans layer. My last two labs have been oceanography and waves/tides/currents, so I’ve been leaning heavily on Google Earth to help my …

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22 July 2008

The Great Southern California ShakeOut

Even though I’m sure this has been mentioned in many places, I promised I’d post on it (in case there’s anyone out there who didn’t see the first few iterations). While I was at the Boston NSTA meeting, I ha d the chance to meet a fellow from the Southern California Earthquake Center, and chat with him a bit about the Center’s work. I was really impressed by their public …

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6 May 2008

We had an earthquake!

Okay, so 1.8 is pretty dinky – but I felt this one, darn it. Whee! My first earthquake. Details from the Arlington Alert website: 05/06/08 14:55 The USGS has confirmed a magnitude 1.8 “micro” earthquake occurred near Annandale, VA at 1:30pm. There have been no reports of damage or injuries.OEM/LCS 05/06/08 14:31 The National Earthquake Information Center, via FEMA Operations, is reporting that Northern VA has experienced rumblings equivalent to …

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23 April 2008

Here’s one for Julian!

The USGS has released updated versions of their National Seismic Hazard Maps. (Image from the 2008 USGS Fact Sheet) And look! A green spot over western New York! That’s way better than being in the blue. (Not as exciting as sitting on a subduction zone capable of generating M9+ earthquakes, but I suppose I can’t have everything.) Update: While poking around the USGS Urban Hazard Maps, I found this one …

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10 January 2008

Why yes, I do have goals

G. K. Gilbert, in his account of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906: It is the natural and legitimate ambition of a properly constituted geologist to see a glacier, witness an eruption and feel an earthquake. The glacier is always ready, awaiting his visit; the eruption has a course to run, and alacrity is always needed to catch its more important phases; but the earthquake, unheralded and brief, may elude …

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