Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earthquake science

It's strange what facts about earthquakes interest people. As the story of the Japanese earthquake reverberates around the world like it's resultant tidal wave. You would think that the damage in Japan from the quake or the wave would be the most intriguing, or the death toll, or at least the fact that the story has gone nuclear, literally. But, nope! The thing that absolutely blew me away is the fact that the whole country of Japan moved eight (8) feet! Not only that, it moved the axis of the earth, the center point of it's rotation, by four (4) inches! And, the days are microseconds shorter now. Although I will agree that these are minute changes, those are things that affect every single person on the planet.

The earthquake and tidal waves were all generally predicted, and we knew that they were going to happen sooner or later, so even though they were predicted they came as a surprise, because we didn't know exactly when they would happen. We all take our chances.

I know some of you are already noticing that I called the wave a "Tidal Wave" and not a Tsunami. We now have deep scientific ways of differentiating them, because a tsunami isn't a breaking wave and has nothing to due with a "tide". So, the term tidal wave is incorrect. But, less than 50 years age, nobody on the west coast of California would have known what a Tsunami was, with the exception of maybe a few people well versed in the Japanese language. The  term tidal wave came from the wave that moves up a harbor entrance or river from an exceptionally large tidal difference, that created a breaking wave coming up a coastal river. Whereas the Japanese word "Tsunami" translated into English means "Harbor Wave". Whaaa??? Why bother with the correction? It smacks of putting on airs, which I'm unlikely to do, as you know. I've often heard it said, "that's one thing about Ernie, he doesn't have airs". Or was that hairs?

The other word that bothers me is "Temblors", as Laura so aptly pointed out in the post about "Big Words". What I have do, when they say on television that, "There was a temblor in the East Bay this morning" is that I have to translate it into, "They had an "earthquake". Everybody knows that it is an earthquake, why not call it that?

Oh, by the way. They say that even if the Nuclear plants in Japan go "China syndrome" that the radiation won't be enough for us to worry about in the U.S. Do you believe that??? I worry about everything, like what am I going to do to catch up for the time that I waste on blogging if the days are shorter now?


Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention bore tides Ernie.
I know I have a bad memory but I read a book about waves 40 some odd years ago and they talked about the difference between Tsunami and tidal waves. The book also mentioned the ocean smell you detect when getting closer to the coast is ozone created from the sunlight shining through the surf.
Now I was really intrigued by the 8 foot movement thing myself. What I am wondering is if the coast line was moved eight feet (erosion) or was the whole island moved??


Ernie Branscomb said...

From what I understand the whole island moved. The bubble-headed bleach-blonds that babble the news don't make it very clear. But, they sure look good don't they?

Something had to have moved very drastically to move the axis 4" don't you think?

Dave Kirby said...

Was on my way home tonight and the guy on KGO pointed out a real fact. In the face of a huge disaster there is no looting or rioting in Japan. We look down our western noses at Asia. If the same thing happened here there would be riots and looting. And every gun store would be sold out.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that a shift in the global axis is not unusual with tremors ( sorry, couldn't resist )of that magnitude.

And Dave, that is "stole out, not sold out" here in the states.

On another note, I commented on a Oregon fb site that was showing photo's and video's of the destruction in the harbors at Brookings and some at CC. I made mention in my sweet way how I thought folks that owned boats that were in the harbor had to be out of town or needed the insurance money to let them be wrecked. I need to work on my choice of words I think. I went on to say I would have taken my boat out of the water if it was feasible and if not take it out off-shore.
I was informed right away that 75% of the Brookings Harbor fleet did indeed get out of the water or went off-shore by up to a hundred miles.
Now as y'all know, I'm not good with words but I think if I was a reporter for a news outfit I would tell more of the story instead of just a focus on death and destruction.


skippy said...

Ernie, Kym's column today pointed out this Newsweek article below. She says it's well written but not a very scientific explanation. It is timely.

Is Our Next Big Earthquake Going to Be... California? The scariest earthquake is yet to come-- the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan was the third in a series of events that puts California at risk:

"Now there have been catastrophic events at three corners of the Pacific Plate—one in the northwest, on Friday; one in the southwest, last month; one in the southeast, last year.

That leaves just one corner unaffected—the northeast. And the fault line in the northeast of the Pacific Plate is the San Andreas Fault, underpinning the city of San Francisco..."

Kym also has other earthquake information on her site, too, for interested readers.

Ernie, disaster moons, Mayan calendars, iodine tablets and Geiger counters aside...keep those emergency supplies ready at home.

Stay warm, safe, dry, and prepared, everyone. ... skips

spyrock said...

i knew a lady who was playing in her yard in oakland when it started raining ashes from san francisco after the earthquake and fire of 1906. grandma alice was the most easy going person i ever knew. i never knew her to get upset. she lived to be 110. i guess after that earthquake, everything else that happened in her life was a piece of cake.