What does a trained, and stunned, geologist say after his visit to Japan for an earthquake conference is interrupted by this symphony of destruction’s opening movement? Here’s a quote that got some pickup from science writers far from Japan putting an urgent local angle on the news:
“The main shock lasted an entire five minutes. We were in the middle of a talk, and just bailed and went outside. .. you could literally feel the plates grinding; the high-frequency P-wave arrival was like nothing I’ve ever felt. Then five minutes of S-waves and feeling sort of seasick.”
That was in the Eugene Register-Guard in Oregon, where on Saturday its reporter Susan Guard was quick off the mark in a story under the hed, Experts say Japan quake a wake-up call for the Northwest. Indeed, to the lay eye, the Cascadia Subduction Zone west of the Pacific Northwest from Vancouver south to northernmost California, is spookily like a mirror image of the Japan Trench east of Honshu. That’s pretty much how it looks to professional gaze, too.
The region’s press outlets extensively re-warned their readers but with fresh graphics this time, that every few centuries the Juan de Fuca Plate offshore – a small satellite of the Pacific Plate – squeezes itself violently several to many feet deeper under North America’s continental lithosphere. Prehistoric quakes, as pieced together from such evidence as tsunami sediments and evidence of coastal rise and subsidence, indicated magnitudes of around 9.0 for such quakes. That is like Japan’s latest earthquake. This particular quote was circulated promptly in a well-put-together press release from Oregon State University.
- Seattle Times – Sandi Doughton: Subduction zone quake could also hit Northwest ; Includes another vivid interview, with both seasickness and a sickness in the heart, with a U. of Washington researcher visiting a Japanese university, on video.
- PostMedia news via Nanaimo Daily News (Vancouver Island) Cassidy Olivier : ‘Big One’ in BC would be akin to Japan disaster ;
- Vancouver (WA) Columbian – Howard Buck, Erik Robinson: Similar quake due to hit Northwest ;
While checking for significant local-angle stories on subduction and quakes and tsunamis, I happened across, at the on line remnant of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a piece it picked up on word from the rumor and idiocy wing. The topic is the idea that an upcoming super moon (a maximal perigee) somehow caused the Japan earthquake. First, this is a reasonable story and a needed debunking. Second, the public comments that it elicited once more reveal the feebleness of the press in overcoming, at least among members of the public moved to display their reasoning powers in the open, the broad streak of ignorance among our fellow citizens. Mostly nice people, sure, but many seem unable to look anything up before prattling away on their keyboards. Here is the story as it appeared at its originating agency.
- Space.com : Did approaching ‘supermoon’ cause Japan Quake? A: No. And, one is moved to surmise, even if a tidal stress were to trigger a quake, it only means it moved the even earlier in time – and the longer it takes, the worse it’ll be due to accumulating strain. Ergo, dreadful as it is no time is a good time and best to get it over with.
– Charlie Petit