Monday, July 23, 2007

Our Living Earth

It's Alive.

Lovelock's Gaia thesis is that the Earth, our home, is alive. Though she may not be interested in the goings on of the surface dwellers. I began this post a week ago, and while posting a nuclear leak occurred in Japan after an earthquake and as these posts show there was wide spread tectonic plate activity this last week and over the last month all across the globe.

More than 5000 tremors have been felt since January in the Patagonia region of Chile, causing residents to fear that a cataclysmic earthquake may surface.

Kenya: Earth Tremors Cause Panic in Nairobi Tremors hit Peshawar, Swat

Two 5.0 magnitude earthquakes jolt Negros Oriental

Uganda: Heavy Rains Causing Tremors, Says Expert

Tremors shake Portsmouth again — second this month

Another quake hits the North People living in the Burmese town of Tachilek and Laos' Bokeo province also felt the tremors.

PESHAWAR: An earthquake of mild intensity was felt in Peshawar and Swat districts on Sunday at 1724 hours. According to Peshawar Meteorological Station, magnitude of the earthquake on the Richter scale was recorded at 4.8. The epicenter of the tremor was about 300 kilometres north of Peshawar in the Hindukush Range, it said.

Then a couple of days later I discovered in the discount bin a book on the social and geological history of the 1906 San Fransisco Quake. Simon Winchesters; A Crack In the Edge of the World.

It outlines not only the geological faults that resulted in the San Fransisco quake, in light of the recent 2004 Tsunami, reviewers were quick to link it to the recent hurricanes; Katrina and Rita that destroyed New Orleans.

Winchester relates that 1906 was record year for massive, 8 and higher on the Richter Scale, earthquakes around the world, the plates all shifted. Which is the BIG picture of life on earth. Get practicing on your skate boards for the global shift.

Ours is an age of disasters: natural, as in hurricanes, tsunamis, famines, earthquakes, fires, and man-made, as in war and terrorism.

It's hardly surprising, then, that such a distinguished writer as Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa, should commemorate the approaching 100th anniversary of the earthquake and fire that began at dawn on April 18, 1906, and nearly destroyed San Francisco.

But Winchester doesn't confine himself to the disaster itself. He provides a virtual guidebook to the world of tremors and earthquakes and the geological conditions that produce them. He also examines the long-range effects of the San Francisco disaster.

With hurricanes Katrina and Rita fresh in our memory, Winchester's words on the far-reaching consequences of natural calamities strike home:

Seldom does an entire and very large urban community fall victim to utter disaster ... The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the most obvious. The Great Fire of London in 1666. ... The huge earthquake in 1755 in Lisbon — and then, in 1906, San Francisco. ... The largest of these cities and areas survived [because they] exist for reasons that go far beyond the accumulation of buildings that is their outward manifestation. Their presence ... is invariably due to some combination of geography and of climate, together with some vague and indefinable organic reason that persuades mankind to settle there.

So it was with New Orleans and San Francisco. Otherwise, who would live in a city situated below sea level and adjoining a stormy sea? Who would want to settle in a place where, over the years, numerous earthquakes and fires have occurred?

In New Orleans, the catastrophe came from the sea; in San Francisco, from the earth, specifically the San Andreas Fault, which runs from Northern to Southern California, ending at the Salton Sea near the Mexican border.

Winchester, who trained in geology at Oxford, gives the reader a short course in geological theory, detailing the history of geological ideas. He shows why the 1906 earthquake occurred and why such a catastrophe will almost certainly recur near the same place.

The San Francisco earthquake changed the life of the city. More than 28,000 buildings were laid waste. Estimates of the dead range from about 600 to about 3,000. More than half of the city's population of 400,000 were left homeless.

Before the quake, moreover, San Francisco was the preeminent city of the American West. After the quake, slowly but inexorably, that title passed to Los Angeles, 400 miles to the south. Various things wrought the change, but among them was this: The San Andreas Fault in Southern California has never been as destructive as in the north. Los Angeles has had its quakes, but so far none has come close to devastating the city.

Winchester points out that tectonic plate activity is a source of earthquake activity as much as magma movements are and current research verifies this.

Tremors deep inside the Earth are usually produced by magma flowing beneath volcanoes, but a new study suggests they can also be produced by the shifting and sliding of tectonic plates. "Unlike the sharp jolt of an earthquake, tremors within Earth's crust emerge slowly, rumbling for longer periods of time," explained Kaye Shedlock, the program director for Earthscope at the National Science Foundation.

These are the first recordings of non-volcanic tremors deep inside the Earth. They were recorded in deep boreholes that were drilled down to a depth of about 2 miles.

Instead of volcanoes, the scientists think the subterranean rumblings might be caused by processes similar to those that produce tremors near the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an active fault that runs from mid-Vancouver Island to northern California.

Add to that the fact that some scientists believe the Earth is about to reverse polarity, and well as they say; 'all Hell will break loose'.

So lets go back to the beginning of this post which I began last Monday five days after the initial shocks as a result of our living earths tectonic plate movements, which are slow as molasses in January as my mother would say, resulted in a series of earthquakes and other seismic activities.
Tanzania's 'Mountain of God' erupts

Kenyan panic after more tremors

US geologists say recent earth tremors were due to a seismological process known as seismc swarm

Research on earth tremors necessary, say local geologists

The Japanese earthquake ,Southwestern Japan proving temblor hotspot, resulted in exposing the poor safety and maintenance record of their privatized nuclear industry. Tremors spotlight nuclear plants

But there is always a silver lining.

Many earthquakes in the deep ocean are much smaller in magnitude than expected. Geophysicists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have found new evidence that the fragmented structure of seafloor faults, along with previously unrecognized volcanic activity, may be dampening the effects of these quakes.

Examining data from 19 locations in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, researchers led by graduate student Patricia Gregg have found that "transform" faults are not developing or behaving as plate tectonic theory says they should. Rather than stretching as long, continuous fault lines across the seafloor, the faults are often segmented and show signs of recent or ongoing volcanism. Both phenomena appear to prevent earthquakes from spreading across the seafloor, thus reducing their magnitude and impact.

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Until you get the big picture. Which is that it is not magma alone that is responsible for earthquakes and volcanic activity, some of it is human, (oil and gas drilling, nuclear blasts), and much of it is now being attributed to tectonic plate activity as well. Because a week later, early this morning another quake hit India.

Moderate quake in India, mild tremors in Delhi

Along with the threat of global warming and asteroids now we have to consider Gaia evolving herself, and we are just along for the ride.


Boreno is Burning

Did Nuke Cause Earth Quake

Our Living Earth

Dialectics of Extinction

(r)Evolutionary Theory

Earth in Upheaval-Updated

1666 The Creation Of The World

Man Made Volcano

Lost Tsunami Lost Atlantis

New Island

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The Mound of Sound said...

Awesome post, Gene. I've read Lovelock's stuff and his logic is indeed powerful. Living here on the Tsunami-safe side of Vancouver Island breathes reality into accounts of subduction, tectonic plates, tremors and quakes.

eugene plawiuk said...

Ah shucks. Thanks. Though I suspect that if the plates shift there will be no safe side to Vancouver Island.