Monday, March 28, 2005

The Earth Is Very Much Alive and Kicking

13 big quakes along the subduction zone off Sumatra, 8.7 to 4.9 in one day

Statistically, in one year, earth has about one 8.0+ earthquake. This last four months has seen more than half a dozen including one which was one of the greatest quakes in the history of recording them scientifically, the Boxing Day Great Sumatran Quake.

Scientists ponder meaning of second great quake

Earthquake or aftershock? For thousands of Indonesians digging out from the latest devastating geologic jolt, the question is academic. Monday's earthquake was a catastrophic exclamation point on what has been a harrowing three months on Sumatra and surrounding islands.

But for scientists, the magnitude 8.7 quake also poses a vexing problem. Was the event a seismological shrug following the cataclysmic Dec. 26th earthquake -- the fourth-largest on record, spawning a tsunami that left nearly 300,000 people dead or missing throughout the Indian Ocean basin?

It has been around two a month this last half a year! Note that many of the people interviewed in this article thought this was a "mere" 8.0 quake when it was an 8.9 one which is ten times more powerful.

These statistics are warped by the recent rash of great quakes since they skew the averages. If we exclude them, the average would be one great quake every two years.

Something is at work here. Geologists are cautious about this but for some reason, the Australian plate is moving, rapidly now. We have major earthquakes in the North Pole and along the edge of the Antarctica/Australian plates. Global warming might cause geological activity to increase in violence and velocity. Perhaps, one of the reasons why global warming periods in the past ended suddenly is because the warming planet changes the balance so much, the continents are freer to move and this produces what we will be seeing a lot more: volcanic activity.

A chorus of volcanoes are awake now and are spewing ash into the atmosphere and if any of the Great Volcanoes of Sumatra wake up, they have, even as recently as the 1880s, changed the weather drastically and altered the balance of nature, and Krakatoa was one of the smallest volcanic expolsions there. The one 76,000 years ago nearly wiped out all humans.

This isn't merely a problem for the good people of Indonesia, we have our very own Toba here, Beautiful but deadly Yellowstone Park.

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