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2 January 2019

Dangerous sneaker waves puzzle scientists

On January 16, 2016, a sudden swath of large and powerful waves swept through seaside communities along 450 kilometers (280 miles) of Pacific Northwest coastline. From Washington to northern California, water rushed past normal tide lines and filled beaches and streets, stretching hundreds of meters inland. These “sneaker waves” are aptly named given their unannounced arrival, which occurs when massive waves push extra water onshore—a higher-than-usual water level that scientists refer to as runup. At best, these events take beachgoers by surprise. At worst, they are disastrous and fatal.

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21 December 2018

Landslide probability may depend more on riverside steepness than on hillsides above

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake stuck the Gorkha region of Nepal near the capital city of Kathmandu. Approximately 9,000 people died and more than 22,000 suffered injuries. The quake also triggered more than 20,000 landslides in the surrounding area. A team of scientists at the University of Southern California is studying how the topography of the Melamchi Valley in Gorkha affected the incidence of landslides after the 2015 earthquake.

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12 June 2018

South Napa Earthquake linked to summer groundwater dip

A summertime expansion in the Earth’s crust caused by changes in groundwater may have triggered the magnitude-6.0 earthquake in California’s wine country in 2014, according to a new study.

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30 May 2018

Seismometer readings could offer debris flow early warning

Instruments designed to record earthquakes revealed information about debris-flow speed, the width of the flow and the size of boulders carried by the January 2017 mudslide in Montecito, California, and the location of the event, suggesting that the current generation of seismometers in the field could be used to provide an early warning of an incoming debris flow to residents in mudslide-prone areas.

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7 May 2018

Powerful hurricanes strengthen faster now than 30 years ago

Hurricanes that intensify rapidly – a characteristic of almost all powerful hurricanes – do so more strongly and quickly now than they did 30 years ago, according to a new study. Many factors are at play, but the chief driver of more rapid hurricane intensification is a natural climate cycle known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) that affects water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean where hurricanes form, according to the study’s authors.

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4 April 2018

Infrasound recordings give scientists a peek inside volcano’s plume

High-resolution recordings of the powerful infrasound waves generated by an eruption at Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano have given scientists a rare view inside the activity at the volcano’s mouth. The acoustic waves generated by the July 2013 eruption were one of the most powerful volcanic infrasound recordings ever captured. The low-frequency infrasound waves from the eruption are too low for human ears to hear but were as powerful as waves one meter (three feet) away from a jet engine.

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12 March 2018

Mexico’s 2017 earthquake emerged from a growing risk zone

Under Mexico, where the Cocos Plate from the Pacific Ocean slides under the North American Plate, a bending line of hills, created when the seafloor first formed, sits atop a flattened area of subduction. That newly recognized combination has created a fault that likely explains last September’s Puebla earthquake, scientists report in a new study.

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8 February 2018

New Hayward Fault earthquake simulations increase fidelity of ground motions

Scientists have used some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers to model ground shaking for a magnitude (M) 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault and show more realistic motions than ever before.

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14 December 2017

The continental U.S. is experiencing more flooding, and earlier in the year

The frequency of flooding in the continental U.S. is increasing, and seasonality of floods is shifting, according to new research.

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22 November 2017

Scientists counter threat of flooding on coral reef coasts

Scientists have developed a computer simulation tool to predict short-term flood hazards on coral-reef-lined coasts and to assess longer-term impacts from climate change. The assessments will give input to estimate societal or economic risk and damage from such flooding.

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