Steve's picture

‘What if' became 'Just did’

Many of my blogs involve natural disasters either hypothetical or long past. In a workaday world, it’s understandable for one to be blasé about such things. Sure, ‘what if’ events are possible, but why care?

To counterbalance this tendency, I like to highlight cases where

                                ‘What if’   became   ‘Just did’

john's picture

Changing Probabilities: The M7.7 Canada- M7.5 Alaska Earthquakes

The figure below shows the time-dependent changes in spatial forecast contours associated with the M7.7 Prince Rupert, Canada (10/27/2012) - M7.5 Craig, Alaska (1/5/2013) earthquake sequence.  The Prince Rupert earthquake was an oblique-thrust (compressional) event, whereas the Craig earthquake was a right lateral strike (horizontal) slip event. Of concern, the forecast contours representing chance of an earthquake correspond to a higher probability down towards the southeast, nearer to Vancouver and Seattle.

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M7.5 Southern Alaska 1/5/2013

An M7.5 earthquake has just occurred off southern Alaska at 8:58:16 1/5/2013 UTC (11:58:16 pm 1/4/2013 local time), just at the NW tip of the area identified in the previous blog as having undergone a rapid change in the last several days. Hypocenter depth was 9.9 km, and a tsunami warning has been issued.  More as the story develops. A screenshot from the earthquake viewer is shown below.  The mechanism for this event was right lateral strike slip (horizontal slip) so a great tsunami is probably unlikely.

john's picture

More Rapid Change, Prince Rupert Region, Canada 1/ 2/ 2013

As readers of this blog know, I've been following locations of several large earthquakes to document time-dependent changes in local spatial forecast contours.  Two weeks ago, we looked at the Prince Rupert, Canada area, site of the M7.7 earthquake that occurred near the Queen Charlotte Islands fault zone on 10/27/2012, causing a minor 1 meter tsunami in regions as far away as Hawaii.  Forecast probabilities for future M>6.5 events over the next year and within 50 km seem to be adjusting and changing rapidly at the moment. 

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Update on Forecast Near Tohoku Coast, Japan 12/29/2012

Following the M7.3 earthquake on December 7, 2012, a series of obvious changes in spatial forecast contours are occurring off the Tohoku coast of Japan.  In the near vicinity of the M7.3 event and the M9 March 11, 2011 earthquake, it appears that the probability of an event having magnitude M>6.5 has declined.  However, in adjacent regions, spatial probabilities have evidently increased.  Of particular note is the area southeast from Tokyo, where probabilties seem to be intensifying.

Steve's picture

Vancouver, this is it.

When I went to school, back in the Paleocene, students memorized a list of phrases spoken by famous Americans.

                  “Don’t give up the ship.”

                       “I shall return.”

john's picture

Update on the Prince Rupert, Canada Earthquake 12/15/2012

The M7.7 Prince Rupert, Canada earthquake occurred near the Queen Charlotte Islands fault zone on 10/27/2012, causing a minor 1 meter tsunami in regions as far away as Hawaii.  It was a somewhat unusual event, in that it was an oblique thrust-faulting or compressional earthquake.  Previous blogs documented the change in spatial forecast contours as the probabilities in the area evolved.  Below we continue to see changes in spatial probabilities, with the are north west of the epicenter seeing increases in probability.

john's picture

Today's M6.3 Earthquake Offshore San Diego

The earthquake occurred about 263 km SW of Avalon, California (red star) with few aftershocks.  It was a normal faulting (tensional) event, not the usual strike slip event we expect in California earthquakes.  It also occurred in what we consider to be a region at low probability for a M>6.5 event as shown by the image below.  While one can never say for certain that a given event is/is not a foreshock of a larger event, the fact that it occurred in a such a low probability region would argue against viewing this event as a direct precursor to a larger event.  

john's picture

Changing Probability for Banda Sea Earthquake M7.1 December 10, 2012

On December 10, 2012, a magnitude M7.1 earthquake occurred at 16:53:09 UTC (December 11, 01:53:09 local time) in the Banda Sea, in the area where the Australian tectonic plate, the Eurasian plate, and the Philippine Sea plate converge.  As large earthquakes go, this one was not particularly significant because it occurred at a depth of about 160 km (100 miles) in a part of the plate undergoing the process of subduction.  Probably few felt it, and because of the depth, it produced no tsunami.

john's picture

Conviction of the Italian Scientists

As reported by the APS (American Physical Society) December news bulletin, the conviction of the 6 Italian scientists + 1 administrator has raised questions about how risk of rare-but-not-impossible events should be communicated to the public.  The problem is basically that the statistics of these events do not follow the kind of statistical laws that insurance companies use, i.e., the Bell Curve, also called the Normal or Gaussian distribution.  Instead, the statistics are "fat-tail" or power law statistics.


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