Ever since the Great Boxing Day Quake five years ago, we have seen wave after wave of mega-earthquakes shake all over the planet. This is due to the global nature of tectonic plate movements. When one section has a major realignment, all the others have to adjust. The earthquake that hit northern Japan today is definitely a huge one, 8.9. The chances of a major 8+ quake on the US coast is climbing rapidly since we see the Pacific Plate reorganizing itself.
We can see from this IRIS map how the West Coast is under great pressure with the node point off the Oregon coast shaking with medium-sized quakes nearly nonstop now. The subsidence point in Arkansas is also very active with a quake in the last 24 hours, too. This is not due to the ant-like actions of humans injecting water, this is a signal that all parts in the US prone to 7+mag earthquakes will be having these in rather quick succession (geologically speaking, of course!).
All over the world are tsunami flood plains. Sometimes it is thousands of years between major tsunami events. The mega-mega tsunami that swept away an entire civilization in the Aegean Sea area 4,000 years ago was caused by a volcanic eruption. But the ones that happen along subduction zones are much more frequent as we see in the last 5 years.
Unfortunately for humans, one of the ideal places to farm, fish and build cities is on very flat areas right next to ocean subduction zones. So the chances of being nearly totally wiped out by a tsunami over a 5,000 year period approaches 100%. The Japanese have a rich ‘folk history’ of tsunamis suddenly pouring in after the earth shakes. This is where the dragon stories come in.
This is also why the god of earthquakes in the Aegean is Poseidon who is an ocean god, not an earth god. That is, earthquakes often signal a tsunami event, at least, the earthquakes that are remembered with the greatest fears. There is one story about Poseidon suddenly sweeping in out of the ocean to carry off a handsome young man driving his chariot along the shore.
Tsunamis are more frightful than earthquakes because people run out into the streets after an earthquake and thus, can’t take shelter in buildings. I watched the al Jazerera video of the tsunami in Japan and you can see a poor victim driving along the road parallel to the sea stop his white car, turn it sideways and then after two tries, manages to jump the curb and he begins madly driving across the fields, trying to outrun the tsunami. He fails. It sweeps him up along with all the houses and boats and debris.
This week, the great man who first proved tectonic plate movements is how the earth is organized, died here in upstate NY: Jack Oliver, Who Proved Continental Drift, Dies at 87 – NYTimes.com
- In the 1960s, scientists set up seismometers across the world, allowing them to measure and record the slightest shakings almost anywhere. In 1964, Dr. Oliver and a former graduate student of his, Bryan Isacks, went to the South Pacific to set up seismic stations on the island nations of Tonga and Fiji.
- They puzzled over waves from deep earthquakes, emanating as far down as 400 miles below the surface, before realizing that part of the seafloor was being bent downward and pushed into Earth’s interior.
- In 1968, Dr. Oliver, Dr. Isacks and another former graduate student of Dr. Oliver, Lynn Sykes, wrote a paper, “Seismology and the New Global Tectonics,” that put together earthquake evidence from around the world that made a convincing case that continental drift — now called plate tectonics — was indeed occurring.
Professor Oliver has always been a hero to me. When he proposed the theory of plate tectonics, he was vigorously attacked by many geologists. But a major geologist in Tucson, Dr. Damon, immediately championed his theory. I am rather biased since Dr. Damon was a dear friend of mine. He explained, in greatest excitement, the theory when the paper was published and I jumped up with joy, it made elegant sense just as Darwin’s theories for evolution.
Back to Japan’s news: nuclear power plant had to shut down, probably thousands have died. Manufacturing facilities are destroyed, oil storage points shattered, this is a major ecological event especially if the nuclear power plants have major problems. Japan’s economy is taking a HUGE hit here. Fires are particularly difficult after earthquakes. California has refineries, oil facilities and other things just like Japan and LA is a tsunami flood zone, big time. The ability to prepare for mega-quakes is very small.
The tsunami barriers Japan erected along nearly all the coasts occupied by cities was easily swamped by this tsunami. It barely slowed it down, for example. The Dragon of the Sea is the hardest force to stay right alongside the Dragon of the Volcano. My heart goes out to all the victims and there are many, in Japan. And this will set back Japan in so many ways for a long time just as the Great Kanto destroyed Tokyo and caused the Japanese military to go on a massive looting expedition in Asia creating WWII.
Incidentally, if we look at the list of great quakes in Japan, a surprising number of them happen in March. List of earthquakes in Japan – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The sun and moon affects the triggering of plate movements, I suspect. The moon, after all, governs the seas!
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