25 April 2015

Where To Get Some Good Science on The Nepal Quake

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Famous grafitti artist Banksy tweeted these pics showing the before and after of the quake in Kathmandu.

Famous grafitti artist Banksy tweeted these pics showing the before and after of the quake in Kathmandu.

I thought I would put together a few links to some good early science reporting on the Nepal Quake. First up is Dave Petley’s Landslide Blog here on the AGU Blogosphere. Dave has some good basic facts on the quake.

The Washington Post has a good piece that quotes Geologist Roger Bilham who is an expert on quakes in this region, and he says that this was a severe quake that was waiting to happen.

You can see the quake happen in this CCTV video from Pokhara in Nepal:

This next video is downright scary. Buildings are designed to do this but you can see how those up high in a skyscraper would feel the quake first and most intensely. NOTE: I am told this is from Tokyo and was falsely labeled as having been in Nepal. Still it illustrates how good construction versus bad makes all the difference.

and from a classroom. Fear needs no interpreter-

Earthquake_Information_for_PakistanThe Indian Plate is moving northward underneath the Eurasia Plate at a rate of 5 cm per year. This has caused the Tibetan Plateau to uplift, but it happens in jumps and spurts we call quakes. It’s amazing to me that this was not really understood well until the 1960’s! My elementary school science books had NOTHING about plate tectonics. When it was first proposed a famous geologist called it “utter dam rot!”, but to be fair, it was not until the 1960’s that a mechanism was understood that would allow the movement of crustal plates.

Alfred Wegner (a fellow meteorologist by the way) had the right idea, the plates were moving, but it would take 4 decades before the method was understood. The history of its discovery is very fascinating and an acquaintance of mine Naomi Oreskes wrote a great book on it, that I highly recommend! If the name sounds familiar, it was Dr. Oreskes who first pointed out the overwhelming consensus on climate change in the peer-reviewed journals.

If the news of this quake and the links above have jump started your curiosity, then there are some other books you really must read, and topping the list is a real doorstop of a book called ANNALS OF THE FORMER WORLD. The Kindle version is a bargain at $10, and if the size of that tome is intimidating,, then read Assembling California, which is in Annals, but is also a separate book on its own. John McPhee’s classic is on the bookshelf of every fellow nerd I know!

Also, if you are wondering what the odds of something much more powerful happening in America, then Sandi Doughton’s Full Rip 9.0 will not make you sleep easy at night. Another must read!

If you know of a geology book I missed here, let me know! I am always looking for more.