Over 1,000 Die In Nepal Earthquake

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Devastating 7.9-magnitude quake strikes Nepal, India: India is like Australia.  It is a very fast moving piece of tectonic plate that moved fairly rapidly from Antarctica to smash into Asia causing the fastest growing and tallest mountains on earth as Asia buckles and folds as the relentless grind of India is shoved under Asia.  Africa is moving at a much slower rate into Europe and will eventually crush the Mediterranean Sea and the Alps will eventually be as high as Mount Everest but this is in the far, far future.


Most earthquake deaths are due entirely to human construction techniques except along subduction zones where tsunamis are frequent especially along the Ring of Fire in the Pacific.  The Atlantic Ocean is widening but the Pacific Ocean is getting smaller which is why it is much more volcanic/subduction prone.

We still don’t understand why some tectonic plates move very fast while others poke along at a much more leisurely rate.  This dynamic does cause a lot of speculation.  Just this last month there was a new theory put forth:  A stiff new layer in Earth’s mantle | University of Utah News


March 23, 2015 – By crushing minerals between diamonds, a University of Utah study suggests the existence of an unknown layer inside Earth: part of the lower mantle where the rock gets three times stiffer. The discovery may explain a mystery: why slabs of Earth’s sinking tectonic plates sometimes stall and thicken 930 miles underground.


The findings – published today in the journal Nature Geoscience – also may explain some deep earthquakes, hint that Earth’s interior is hotter than believed, and suggest why partly molten rock or magmas feeding midocean-ridge volcanoes such as Iceland’s differ chemically from magmas supplying island volcanoes like Hawaii’s.


“The Earth has many layers, like an onion,” says Lowell Miyagi, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah. “Most layers are defined by the minerals that are present. Essentially, we have discovered a new layer in the Earth. This layer isn’t defined by the minerals present, but by the strength of these minerals.”


Earth’s main layers are the thin crust 4 to 50 miles deep (thinner under oceans, thicker under continents), a mantle extending 1,800 miles deep and the iron core. But there are subdivisions. The crust and some of the upper mantle form 60- to 90-mile-thick tectonic or lithospheric plates that are like the top side of conveyor belts carrying continents and seafloors…


The researchers found that ferropericlase’s strength starts to increase at pressures equivalent to those 410 miles deep – the upper-lower mantle boundary – and the strength increases threefold by the time it peaks at pressure equal to a 930-mile depth.


And when they simulated how ferropericlase behaves mixed with bridgmanite deep underground in the upper part of the lower mantle, they calculated that the viscosity or stiffness of the mantle rock at a depth of 930 miles is some 300 times greater than at the 410-mile-deep upper-lower mantle boundary.


“The result was exciting,” Miyagi says. “This viscosity increase is likely to cause subducting slabs to get stuck – at least temporarily – at about 930 miles underground. In fact, previous seismic images show that many slabs appear to ‘pool’ around 930 miles, including under Indonesia and South America’s Pacific coast. This observation has puzzled seismologists for quite some time, but in the last year, there is new consensus from seismologists that most slabs pool.”


Here is an amusing video explaining one present theory about why some parts of the planet surface is moving faster than other parts:  Plate Tectonics Explained – YouTube

But that doesn’t explain the HUGE plate upon which India and Australia sit.  This one has been moving northwards for much of the Mammalian Age.  Why Antarctica sits firmly afixed at the South Pole while this plate has swift continental movement northwards is no well understood.  Why the earth goes through cycles of breaking up and shoving together has theories to explain this but questions abound as we discover more and more information.


The other thing humans have to realize is, we have to go with the flow and this means, our attempts at building firm structures is constantly under stress from dynamic planetary forces which we can’t control anymore than we can control wether or not we are going into another Ice Age.  We have to adapt to Nature’s efforts.


The death toll in Nepal which is big, is smaller by 10 times over compared to the death toll in tsunami/earthquake events.  And it would have been smaller, too, if people lived in safer buildings.  In general, people prefer ‘typical’ buildings to safe buildings.  Just like houses in tornado-prone areas are not built to reduce tornado damage, hurricane prone areas have buildings that are ridiculous in hurricanes, we have big, tall, weak mud/cement houses that fall with a resounding crash in earthquakes being built and rebuilt in earthquake prone areas.


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Filed under Geology

17 responses to “Over 1,000 Die In Nepal Earthquake

  1. Christian W

    In other scientific news. A new discovery says the magma chamber below Yellowstone is enormous, the size of 11 Grand Canyons… Oo


  2. tio

    Top scientists start to examine fiddled global warming figures

    first comment I read …

    “Sincere concern has given way to the egos of global warming believers and true science is no match for those egos. Much money has been invested in keeping the meme going and more than one Al Gore, who has made multi millions, will fight to the bitter end to keep bilking the public.
    The vast majority of us know next to nothing about the science of weather so we have been ripe meat for these people. Exposure with empirical data may be the first door to open for the public to see the scope of the damage caused by global warming ‘believers’. It is my hope that accountability will follow the investigations which are inevitably coming.
    We live in an age when our politicians and business leaders have adopted a truly ugly group ‘personality’, one which views that they are entitled to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. The big lie is their most potent weapon against an uninformed citizenry. It has become a pathology which needs to be addressed and cured by whatever means necessary.”

  3. Christian W

    Sputnik news reports that the level of radioactive contamination at a playground in Tokyo exceeded the allowed annual radiation limit two hours after a measurement… Parents are “shocked”.

    (I still can’t link to Sputnik directly thanks to western filters ho hum).

  4. Jim R

    Funny how that works. I just tried it and WordPress 86d my comment.

  5. Jim R

    I had an earlier post deleted by WP. It was a tweet from Valentina Lisitsa.

    Went looking on wordpress.org and wordpress.com and automattic.com, and searched on ‘censorship’, and didn’t find anything but bragging about how free and independent they are. Fierce warriors for the first amendment, yadda yadda.

    It would be nice if they’d publish a list of verboten websites. Is all of twitter off limits, or just certain ones? Everything hosted in Russia, or merely everything not out of VOA and RFE?

    It’d save a lot of time if we knew….

  6. emsnews

    Yes, a playground in Tokyo is heavily contaminated as is a lot of Japan. The government studiously ignores this. The LDP is going to sweep the election which will see less than a third of the voters going to the polls.

    Japan is literally dying. All statistics show this. Family formation is collapsing. Child births continue to drop. The LDP continues to warmonger using the US military as their tool of aggression.

  7. Jim R

    Oh, and thanks for the nice article on plate tectonics, Elaine. That short video from ‘minutearth’ was interesting, though I had already heard most of it.

    I think of the Earth’s mantle as acting like the stuff in a lava lamp. Big blobs of stuff rising and sinking as they get heated by the core (which is hot because of radioactive decay) and cooled as they give up their heat at the surface to volcanoes and hot springs etc.

    A volcano is like the tiniest pimple on the blob of hot lava lamp wax, on the scale of Earth.

  8. DeVaul

    “Most earthquake deaths are due entirely to human construction techniques…”

    Well, I don’t think we can really blame the people in Nepal for their buildings falling. I doubt they had earthquake proof building materials. In fact, unlike the buildings in Turkey and China, which appear to be made out of cinder blocks, the buildings in Nepal look like they were made of brick.

    I doubt there are many trees up there, and maybe the brick was brought up there a long time ago. A yurt is probably the only thing that will withstand an earthquake up there (like teepees did in 1812), but from what I have seen, it looks like Nepal is much more modern than I suspected.

    I liked the video too. I always wondered if the part that slips under the mantle goes down and melts in the core, but it looks like some parts don’t melt, at least not for a very long time.

  9. emsnews

    Yes, they live in mud brick huts or other easily destroyed structures.

    The Japanese did it right for many years: they built their homes out of easily deconstructed/paper/woven materials which were in danger of fires but not collapse.

    The big structures with clay tile roofs and thick walls were vulnerable to earthquakes.

    There is no ‘safe solution’ if one is poor. Either the buildings collapse or they catch on fire, if wood. It is a toss up.

  10. DeVaul

    Did the Japanese use paper for walls because of earthquakes or for some other reason? I never understood the paper wall thing, as that is not really a wall and paper was expensive to make back in medieval times.

  11. Jim R

    It is because the paper doesn’t weigh anything. It simply moves around with the ground under it. And if the wood frame collapses, the paper does not crush everyone in the house.

    The paper keeps the wind out, but is also easily replaced.

    And, no. the Japanese have known how to make paper for many centuries. Coarse paper, not writing paper, is pretty easy to make…

  12. emsnews

    Paper is a Chinese invention.

    Paper money was also invented by the Chinese.

  13. DeVaul

    Wait. So… are the paper walls to protect from earthquakes or was it because there was not enough wood for a full wall?

    I want to know the primary reason why the Japanese had paper walls during the medieval period. Can someone answer that?

  14. emsnews

    It was cheap, light, easily assembled to create some of the prettiest huts for lower class people. And wood was ‘expensive’ so little could be used.

    Also, one could move the home quickly and in Medieval Japan, this was a life and death matter due to all the internal wars between Shoguns and the samurai.

  15. Jim R

    The solid chunks of crust … I think they are like the solid wax in a lava lamp. You have chunks falling down from the top, and eventually they get back down to the light bulb and melt. But it’s hard to tell exactly what happens to them, because they are the same color as the liquid wax.

    In the case of the earth, it’s hard to tell because the geologist’s tools are imperfect. They have better computers now, and sensors all over the planet, and when an earthquake happens they can sort of backtrack where all the waves went. So it gives them a 3d ‘image’ of the planet, but it’s still kind of fuzzy. So a chunk of crustal plate the size of Texas could be hard to see if it’s 1000 miles down into the mantle.

  16. Christian W


    There is a forest fire very close to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in Ukraine. The population of some nearby villages (including live stock) have already been evacuated. There is a real danger that the fire will reach the sarcofagus protecting the melted down reactor.

    In any case a wildfire in this area risks releasing a lot of plutonium, that has been lying dormant in the soil, into the air and spread it far and wide again.

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