September 30, 2009
Distant Earthquakes Weaken San Andreas Fault

Live near a major fault? When you read about distant earthquakes brace for the possibility of big local one as a result.

HOUSTON -- (Sept. 30, 2009) -- U.S. seismologists have found evidence that the massive 2004 earthquake that triggered killer tsunamis throughout the Indian Ocean weakened at least a portion of California's famed San Andreas Fault. The results, which appear this week in the journal Nature, suggest that the Earth's largest earthquakes can weaken fault zones worldwide and may trigger periods of increased global seismic activity.

"An unusually high number of magnitude 8 earthquakes occurred worldwide in 2005 and 2006," said study co-author Fenglin Niu, associate professor of Earth science at Rice University. "There has been speculation that these were somehow triggered by the Sumatran-Andaman earthquake that occurred on Dec. 26, 2004, but this is the first direct evidence that the quake could change fault strength of a fault remotely."

Live in an earthquake zone? I do. Want to be prepared? Look at the building you live in and the building you work in and ask yourself whether you are likely to die in either structure in event of an earthquake. If so, change jobs or move as appropriate. A really big quake in SoCal will take out water supplies in some areas. Think about putting in some big water storage bottles (appropriately padded and braced to prevent breakage) so you can keep drinking water after the Big One.

Last night I was watching a History Channel show about the odds of a really big earthquake in Southern California. One of the people on the show said the scientific consensus is for a 99% probability in the next 30 years. If you live in SoCal you really ought to prepare for it.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 September 30 10:30 PM  Dangers Natural Geological


Comments
Engineer-Poet said at October 2, 2009 3:52 PM:

I would be worried about fire suppression rather than drinking water.  A well-built swimming pool and a pump, hose and nozzle might be good investments.  I would buy a pump that runs on propane rather than gasoline because the shelf life of propane is effectively infinite.

Randall Parker said at October 3, 2009 10:32 AM:

E-P,

Thanks for the useful info about propane. How long does diesel fuel store?

Engineer-Poet said at October 3, 2009 11:18 AM:

Petroleum diesel fuel has a shelf life of several months, perhaps longer with stabilizers (synthetic diesel is claimed to be good for up to 8 years).  One of the problems is that bacteria can live on it, so you need biocides or you can get fouling.

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