A new disaster movie is about to be released. “2012”
is another in a series of fantastical apocalyptic stories, this time
based on the Mayan "Long Count" calendar, which marks the end of a
5,126-year era on December 21, 2012. The movie has amazing visual
effects that depict earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, fires, meteor
showers, and all manner of nightmarish events unleashed on Earth – all
at the same time – on this future date. Some (including this blogger)
have noticed a familiar resemblance to widespread, and unwarranted,
Open Hazards provides people all over the world
with online information about earthquake hazards, and it’s all free to
site visitors and members. We hope you’ll return often to the site to
gain a better understanding of how earthquake hazards might affect you
and your family, and to learn more about what you can do to avoid the
negative impact from a damaging event that could strike where you live.
I’d like to introduce myself to Open Hazards
visitors and members. If you’ve read any of the previous OH•Zone
entries, you may have noticed that I’m writing to non-technical
audiences – people like myself, who are not trained scientists or
engineers, but who have a real interest in learning more about our
world and how it works.
Earthquake Underground blogger John Rundle talks about the “Elastic
Rebound” effect. If you hang out with earthquake scientists or
engineers, it’s a term that’s commonly understood. But what if you’re
like me, a non-scientist, and terms like this are used to explain why
the earth occasionally heaves beneath your feet? Let's pull the term elastic rebound apart to better understand what it means.
A magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck this morning in Yunnan,
southwest China, and caused great damage to the areas in and around the
epicenter of Binchuan County. Twenty-eight people were injured, and
300,000 people are affected. Over a thousand houses and other buildings
collapsed, with more than thirty thousand homes and buildings damaged
to varying degrees.
Measuring the size of an earthquake is a complicated process, which
is the main reason most of us have trouble understanding just how much
power is released by an earthquake of a certain “magnitude”. I searched
around for the simplest explanation possible. If you understand a
little more about the potential power that can be unleashed during an
earthquake, then you might also appreciate how important it is to be
Ever stumbled inside one of those carnival fun
houses where the floors are all uneven and the walls are at odd angles?
Ever been groping around in a dark room and put your foot on a stair
step you thought was there -- but wasn't? Ever been on a small boat in
a big storm at sea, with huge waves tossing the boat around like a
small bottle cork? If you answered yes to any of these, or have a good
imagination, then you know a little of what it's like to be surprised
by a large, damaging earthquake.
It's out there, somewhere in cyberspace, that vast network of
computers where online communication happens. Sit down at a computer,
open your favorite browser. In the search window, pose any question
that comes to mind. Then scroll through the mountains of material
served up in an instant. Easy!