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Earthquake off Northern California 373

Posted by timothy
from the news-to-shake-you-up dept.
merger writes "A 7.0 earthquake (7.4 according to NOAA) occured off of the northern California coast occured at 7:50 p.m. PST triggering a tsunami warning (which was then downgraded to a tsunami bulletin). While searching Google News for information I learned about an earthquake preparedness study for the area which was just published today."
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Earthquake off Northern California

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  • by HG2 (878937) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:03AM (#12821215) Homepage
    Anyone?!?!?! I have family that live there... I am going to call them now.
  • There was a 2+ hour Adelphia cable (tv+internet) outage after the earthquake. Friend who are in the bay area say they didn't feel any shaking. Were any undersea cables severed?
    • by helioquake (841463) * on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:06AM (#12821229) Journal
      Nah, probably someone spilled the bottle of beer on console and short-circuited it.
      • We'd better make sure there are plenty of copies of "Ally McNiel" for 1000 year's time!

    • by Infinityis (807294)
      Am I the only one who finds it amusing that an EARTHQUAKE occured, human lives are put in danger, and one of the first questions posted asks about if the internet connection survived?

      The Matrix has you, parent poster.
      • by Forbman (794277) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:22AM (#12821292)
        No, the amusement is in realizing that if the earthquake caused a break underwater, that it's not going to be fixed in ~2 hrs, thus indicating the cluelessness of the question pondered.

        • Re:Undersea Cables? (Score:3, Informative)

          by arivanov (12034)
          Yes. But 2h is roughly the time it takes to get alternative capacity running on a friend of mine basis. Been there, done that, hate fishermen.
        • Backup links ... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @04:54AM (#12821709)
          No, the amusement is in realizing that if the earthquake caused a break underwater, that it's not going to be fixed in ~2 hrs, thus indicating the cluelessness of the question pondered.

          Why? That underwater link that guy mentioned might still be broken, if was indeed broken they probably activated an auxiliary/backup link to route their traffic through and are still working on the severed cable. I rely on a connection via a series of undersea links that have been severed a few times over the last few years by anything from fishermen to mechanical diggers and underwater sand-mining operations. Over here it rarely takes the local telecom more than half an hour to start routing traffic through backup connections but then of course we don't get as quite as many earthquakes here as they do in California
  • East Bay Check In (Score:5, Informative)

    by obsol33t (550660) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:06AM (#12821232)
    Nothing felt here, most people will not even know about it until tomorrow in our area.
  • by FireballX301 (766274) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:07AM (#12821237) Journal
    Link to CNN [cnn.com] article.

    Plates shifted, relatively high richter scale, but keep in mind the Richter scale is *not* a linear scale. Nothing like the big tsunami a few months back.

    Hell, I live in San Diego, I felt a 5.6 a few days ago. Shook my bed a bit, that was more of an event than this.
  • by bjackrian (764826) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:08AM (#12821239) Homepage
    I worked as a Park Ranger at Redwood National Park a few years ago, and this is one of their nightmare scenarios. My housemate was a geology major, and the area right off of the coach is very susceptible to huge earthquakes (8.0+)--one happens every 200 or so years on average. The last one happened around 1700, so another one is fairly likely in the near future.

    Towns like Crescent City are at huge risk, and the city and state are trying to compensate with warning systems (that have been improved since the tsunami in the Indian Ocean). While some buildings have been constructed to withstand tsunamis (the national park headquarters was designed as a "flow through" building so tsunami waves will just break out the first floor windows and flow through the building), the best advice is to climb. Get to high ground as soon as you feel the earth shake. Don't wait for a tsunami warning--just climb!

    Also, don't go back to the ocean until you know for sure that it's safe to do so. Apparently, many of the deaths in the 1960s tsunami were a result of the mayor and several other people going down onto a pier to suvery the damage. Because tsunamis are really sets of high waves and sea levle changes, the next set of waves washed them away.

    One more interesting tidbit--most tsunami deaths aren't caused by the water itself. Instead, what happens is that the water crashes into buildings destroying them. Additional waves then take all of that debris and use it like battering rams to destroy more buildings. It's the debris that most often causes human deaths and damage in the city. Perhaps a good case for building more tsnuami-safe buildings?

    • the area right off of the coach is very susceptible to huge earthquakes (8.0+)--one happens every 200 or so years on average. The last one happened around 1700, so another one is fairly likely in the near future.

      The fault line in question is the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast of Oregon, which produces large tsunamis on a fairly regular basis--geologically speaking, that is. And there's the problem. Nobody on this side of the Pacific Rim remembers the last damaging Cascadia quake. The Japanese d

    • by jesterzog (189797) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @05:52AM (#12821862) Homepage Journal

      one happens every 200 or so years on average. The last one happened around 1700, so another one is fairly likely in the near future.

      This is just a small nit-pick with this assertion. Sorry for dragging it out as I have.

      I don't know where you're getting your information from, but I also have a good friend who's a geophysicist, and I know a lot of others in the Earth Sciences department next door to my own. (We have a lot of major earthquake-causing fault lines in New Zealand, and it's a popular place for geophysicists from around the world to hang out.) If someone knows more then I'd welcome a correction, but my understanding is that earthquakes are still almost entirely unpredictible with today's knowledge.

      We can look at the history of any site and calculate an average earthquake frequency, just as your site averages every 200 years. If you look a short time into the future, it'll probably remain an average of about 200 years.

      But in Earth science terms, a "short" time is millions of years. When the frame of reference is so large, attempting to predict events accurately to hundreds of years is hopeless. An historical average of a big quake every 200 years really doesn't tell us anything useful about the immediate future of a site in terms comparable with a human lifetime.

      I've heard people argue about how the stress is released after an earthquake and there's a relation. I think this is a very common misconception that seems intuitive, but doesn't really match the facts as we know. All the geophysicists I've spoken to have claimed that this is mostly fiction, though.

      The biggest problem with this approach is that there's no clear and accurate way to even estimate, let alone measure, how much stress there was in the first place. Most of what we can guess simply comes from analysing historical records, and accurate records often don't even exist beyond the past few hundred years, if even that. You might have thought that 7th magnitude quake was big and released a lot of stress, until an 8th magnitude quake suddenly releases ten times as much energy [wikipedia.org], with the earlier quake having made a negligible dent in its force.

      If you look historically at the quakes in your area, you'll probably see that they're not set at all evenly. Even if you've gone for 300 years without an earthquake, chances are it's about as likely that you'll get a big one tommorrow as it is that you'll get a big one 1000 years from now. Perhaps you'll get 3 or 4 big ones in the next 3 or 4 decades.

      This isn't to say that it's not worth preparing for, though. If you live on a fault, chances are that you'll at least get moderate earthquakes, and over a wide enough population, it's quite likely that some part of it will be hit every so often. (The media doesn't normally report about all of the places that didn't have earthquakes.) Good building standards and response strategies, for instance, are the reason that there may only be a few tens or hundreds of casualties in a well-off country, whereas it might be hundreds of thousands or millions of casualties for an equivalent quake in a third world country.

      • by Somegeek (624100) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @11:46AM (#12824518)
        This is just a small nit-pick with this assertion. Sorry for dragging it out as I have.
        The poster never asserted anything about predicting earthquakes based upon the average. The poster just stated that historical data shows a 200 year average, and from that data one could say that one was 'fairly likely in the near future'. That's the way averages work; we may not understand the reason behind the pattern, but if there is enough data to create a pattern, its reasonable to guess that the pattern will continue. Just because the geological time scale is huge doesn't mean that there can't be regular geological events that occur with a short frequency. For a specific example, look at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) test site in Parkfield, California:

        http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/research/parkfield/ [usgs.gov]

        Historical data showed earthquakes occurring in 1857, 1881, 1901, 1922, 1934, and 1966. The pattern average showed an earthquake due by around 1993. The next significant earthquake did not happen until 2004, not exactly on time, but dead accurate compared to your time span of 'millions of years'.

        Regarding the advice from your friends; a scientist once told me 'Half of everything that scientists teach is wrong, and we don't know which half it is.' Much of current scientific theory is just that, someone's current theory. Take it with a grain of salt.

        until an 8th magnitude quake suddenly releases ten times as much energy,
        Nope. From the USGS again: "The total amount of energy released by the earthquake, however, goes up by a factor of 32."

        http://earthquake.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/glossary.ht m#magnitude [usgs.gov]

  • by fearanddread (836731) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:11AM (#12821251)
    Interesting that this happened. Here is an article [sfgate.com] that was published just yesterday talking about exactly this topic. I guess the subduction zone reads the Chronicle.
  • by tod_miller (792541) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:11AM (#12821255) Journal
    http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/step/ [usgs.gov]

    If you look now though, there are two areas of fairly high risk.

    Don't use this map for anything important, like planning picnics.

    Still, I check this every day, and I am suprised that I was given a reference to test its accuracy so soon.

    Still, it has updated today in light of the events.
  • by saurik (37804) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:12AM (#12821257) Homepage
    So earlier, when this was first breaking news, my roommate got a phone call from her friend Erin about a possible tsunami warning. My first thought? "I'll check slashdot; if it's actually going to kill us (especially as we're in Southern California) slashdot will have an article on it".
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:13AM (#12821264)
    The earthquake was caused by the impact of the news that Sarge is finally out. (It took several days before that news truly sank in.)
  • False Alarm (Score:5, Informative)

    by amcox (588540) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:14AM (#12821270)
    According to a friend who is a geologist, the quake was on a slip fault, not a thrust falt, and therefore could not produce a tsunami. And, since it was something like 70 miles offshore, the shaking itself didn't do any real damage, either.
  • Living in good 'ol so cal, I have never heard of a tsunami warning, so that was fun to see flash across my screen while I was watching TV.
  • quakes: http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/recenteqs/ [usgs.gov]

    you can see this big one off to the upper left, but 'quakes are no big thing around these parts - just look, we get ~hundreds a day; similar to /. geting 2-300 500 server errors a day.
  • Cowabunga! (Score:3, Funny)

    by chillmost (648301) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:25AM (#12821308) Homepage
    which was then downgraded to a tsunami bulletin

    Surf's Up, Dude!!

    • So I wasn't the only one who thought that the Californians would react in exactly the opposite way to everyone else to a tsunami warning.

      Everywhere else people would run away and get to high ground etc. On teh Californian coast, thousands of people would flock to the beaches clutching surfboards, yelling "dude" and "like totally rad, man" and maybe I'll catch my first tube today". Except the ones mumbling about 50 year storms of course. They'd be booking flights to Australia.

      You mean Point Break isn't a d
  • by ahodgkinson (662233) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:33AM (#12821333) Homepage Journal
    The USGS [usgs.gov] runs a good site [usgs.gov] that lists all earthquakes, worldwide, with magnitude greater than 2.5. I monitored the list after the tsunami of last December, and it was interesting to see the aftershocks in the following weeks.

    In this case the same thing is happening. You'll note in the list that there have already been a number of aftershocks over the past few hours.

    They also have a RSS feed, so presumably you could create your own tsunami warning system.

    • I subscribed to the USGS bigquake mailing list after the 26 Dec 2004 Tsunami. This is probably the same information as the RSS feed but the USGS cautions that it is not a warning system.

      I have been getting emails about 50 minutes after the quake and I think there is a manual review process before the mail is sent out.

      I think this would be too slow for a warning system.

  • by Soloact (805735) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:36AM (#12821345) Homepage Journal
    This earthquake didn't really rattle us very much locally (Eureka CA area), but it triggered the tsunami warning from 2001 to 2113 PDT, and was fully lifted at 2155 PDT. The warning came via email to those of us who subscribe to the Tsunami Warning Center emails. However, the email wasn't sent out until about 10 minutes after the quake, and didn't set off the Emergency Broadcast System on the radio for about another 5 minutes after the emails. Folks, in 15 minutes, a Tsunami could have already happened locally. Even though the watch/warning was broadcast, most locals just shrugged it off, or didn't even hear about it until I mentioned it to them over an hour later. The local supermarket has been promoting Emergency Awareness lately, but in view of the reaction of the people, we really aren't prepared should the epicenter of a 7+ quake happen under our feet, or should a Tsunami actually hit. Fortunately, I live inland far enough and high enough to be above a wave line similar to that of the Indian Ocean tsunami of last December. But I don't live far enough away to not have to clean up bodies of non-prepared apathetic persons who become victims should one occur. I did live right on the beach, previously, and had an evacuation package and procedure ready. Others along the Coast were ready, but not enough of them. Everyone should really do a self-preparedness check to see if they are indeed ready for such an emergency. This includes those who live in earthquake, tornado, flooding, mountains (slides and fires), and hurricane areas. Prepare yourself and your neighbors today, should you have to help each other tomorrow.
  • Japan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JanneM (7445) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:44AM (#12821368) Homepage
    Here in Japan they have the very sensible system of reporting not only (and not even mostly) the energy released at the epicenter, but most prominently the expected effects at any area affected by the earthquake.

    They have a seven-point scale, with 1 being that you only just feel the quake if you are lying down or otherwise sensitive; to 7 being that nonhardened buildings collapse, and many expected injuries and deaths. Quake reports are usually in the form of maps with this info overlayed.

    For most of the public, that is the kind of info you want when an earthquake has occurred, rather than the intensity at the origin. It tells you much clearer if it's time to worry about friends and relatives or not.

  • by kingofalaska (885947) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:47AM (#12821373) Homepage Journal
    I know many people think Alaska is off the coast of California, but I noticed we got a few large ones, too.

    " Aleutians rocked by series of big quakes [alaska.edu]

    The countless quakes started short after midnight. The biggest one, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, struck at 9:10 a.m. Tuesday. There were reports of items falling off shelves in Adak, about 175 miles from the epicenter.

    The series of quakes occurred where the Pacific and North American plates collide. Most were in the range of 4.5 and 5.7."

    Seems to be a relation.

    KoA

    Eagle crashes into living room of a Ketchikan home [blogspot.com]

  • MJ! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zork the Almighty (599344) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @02:47AM (#12821374) Journal
    God is angry over the Michael Jackson verdict!
  • Here in Santa Cruz (central coast) we didn't feel anything (heck, I didn't know there had been an earthquake until reading the story), so the epicenter was far enough from the coast to do any real damage. Despite this, an earthquake that's a 7 on the richter scale is scary--most of Santa Cruz was destroyed in the loma prieta 15 years ago, and that was a 7.1.
  • Timing (Score:5, Funny)

    by vyrus128 (747164) <gwillen@nerdnet.org> on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @03:22AM (#12821472) Homepage
    Slashdot's getting better at posting news while it's new... this one's only about 3 or 4 hours out of date. Meanwhile Fark, a comedy site, had the newsflash up while the tsunami warning was still in effect. I know where I'm going for my news...
  • by JimBobJoe (2758) <swiftheart@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @03:27AM (#12821488)
    I used to joke that insurance companies didn't care about the very imminent geological dangers that face California, because, they reckon, once the big one hits, there won't be anyone left in California to make any claims.

    On the other hand, it's been pointed out to me, semi-recently, that most Californians do not have earthquake insurance.

    I dunno about you, but that, with the combination of homes which average $509k, is a source of worry for me. Any Californians able to comment on earthquake/tsunami insurance?

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthquake_insurance [wikipedia.org]

      Earthquake insurance in California is very expensive and hard to get. For some reason, insurers don't like the thought of a million people suddenly needing to replace the main joists* in their houses. And so they set the premiums extremely high or refuse to offer coverage altogether.

      * I have no idea what a "joist" is.
      • * I have no idea what a "joist" is.

        Joists are horizontal or near-horizontal structural members of smaller dimensions than beams. Floor joists are the principal element of a wooden floor; the flooring is nailed to the top of the joists and, if the room below has a finished ceiling, the ceiling material is nailed to the bottoms of the joists. Flat and very low-slope roofs have roof joists in place of rafters.
  • by stretch0611 (603238) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @03:45AM (#12821542) Journal
    I don't mean to be heartless, but this is slashdot. Why are you posting this news here?

    Slashdot is "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters."

    • This article has no nerd factor.
    • While it may matter to a few people in CA, It doesn't matter to me. Slashdot is a global community, not just California.

    Reporting on Tsunamis is nothing more than sensationalism for a site like this. This article should definately be moderated as off-topic.

    Which brings up a point. We moderate posts, we even moderate how other people moderate. Let's get the ability to moderate articles. This way we will stop getting "News for non-nerds. Stuff that doesn't matter."

    • Tsunami can strike hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles away from where the related earthquake happens. The potential for a tsunami truly has global scope (at least as much global scope as the Xbox 360, which much of Africa has little interest in, for example).

      A tsunami warning system is both a technological and sociological device, as discussed by the last linked article. While it was certainly a bit thin on details, it is probably of interest to at least some nerds, even if you personally don't give
    • A significant disruption in the Bay Area would have a real, tangible impact on many of the businesses and services that make the 'net work. Yes, it's decentralized, but it would be ugly. If nothing else, just having Cisco headquarters dissappear from the map would make a lot of ongoing network implementation projects, well, a lot more annoying.
    • Slashdot is "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters."

      We're nerds, and this is news. Condition one met. This probably matters to a lot of people. Condition two met. Slashdot has never been limited to technology news (see also: politics.slashdot.org).

      Slashdot had, bar none, the best 9/11 coverage in the world. Seriously. I learned far more from eyewitnesses who posted to the site than I ever did from corporate news sources. If there had really been a tsunami, you'd probably be reading the best newsfee

  • by ChipMonk (711367) on Wednesday June 15, 2005 @03:55AM (#12821573) Journal
    Something I noticed after the 5.2 quake in southern California, is that there was a tremendous number of temblors immediately following, but they were all focused around the site of the original quake. I had to wonder how much stress was building up along the fault line, to the north and south.

    As I type this, I see >800 quakes on the California/Nevada quake map [usgs.gov], and I wonder how much more stress is building up around Silicon Valley. (Yes, I live and work in the Valley.)

    I suspect that big slips north and south increase the odds of a slip in between. Are there any geologists out there who can verify this?
    • notice how the 1994 northridge quake occurred following a notorious el nino season. there is well documented cases where people dumped waste water in a fault and it lead to earthquakes.

      now think of the deluge they received last winter.

      makes you think eh?

      it wont affect me since i recently relocated to miami because the tech job market was terrible with downward pressure on wages with upward financial pressure on everything else. it was move or go bankrupt. but all of my family still lives there and i real
  • But if I were living near 'The Geysers', I'd be a little concerned

    The area is a caldera, from what I can tell, and it looks like it's ready to blow !!!!!!

    1.9 2005/06/14 21:19:08 38.803N 122.814W 2.9 1 km ( 1 mi) NW of The Geysers, CA

    3.9 2005/06/14 19:57:00 38.848N 122.823W 3.6 6 km ( 4 mi) NNW of The Geysers, CA

    1.7 2005/06/14 18:46:08 38.832N 122.799W 1.3 4 km ( 2 mi) N of The Geysers, CA

    1.6 2005/06/14 09:30:10 38.814N 122.809W 4.1 2 km ( 1 mi) N of The Geysers, CA

    2.3 200

  • presumably 7.0 or whatever on the Richter scale?

    seriously - on UK news channels, BBC etc, they always quote 'earthquake of strength X on the Richter scale'. personally i find this extremely annoying since it's a completely superfluous figure-of-speech - unless there's some other scale which people use to measure earthquakes.

    anyone know different?

  • It has to be pretty urgent if they post the news without bothering to capitalize first :D

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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