Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chile City Moved 10 Feet West: Change Happens

"Chile Earthquake Moved Entire City 10 Feet to the West"
Wired Science (March 8, 2010)

"The magnitude 8.8 quake that struck near Maule, Chile, Feb. 27 moved the entire city of Concepcion 10 feet to the west.

(Central and Southern Andes GPS Project, via Wired Science, used w/o permission)

"Precise GPS measurements from before and after the earthquake, the fifth largest ever recorded by seismographs, show that the country’s capital, Santiago, moved 11 inches west. Even Buenos Aires, nearly 800 miles from the epicenter, shifted an inch. The image above uses red arrows to represent the relative direction and magnitude of the ground movement in the vicinity of the quake.

"The analysis comes from a project led by Ohio State earth scientist Mike Bevis that has been using GPS to record movements of the crust on Chile since 1993. The area is of particular interest to geoscientists because it is an active subduction zone, where an oceanic plate is colliding with a continental plate and being pushed into the Earth’s molten mantle below...."

(Central and Southern Andes GPS Project, via Wired Science, used w/o permission)

The article gives a pretty good look at a distinctly non-gradual change in the southern part of South America. Geological processes generally take a lot of time to produce noticeable results - but then, we've got better instrumentation now, and organizations to make us of it.

That was one big quake.

And, I see, Turkey experienced yet another major earthquake. Also that scientists (real ones, who are trying to learn how part of the universe works) aren't all that worried.

On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if some 'end times' folks didn't whip out a new book or two, about how the recent quakes are a certain sign of the coming apocalypse. Come to think of it, I saw an ad for a video along those lines on television the other day.

And, of course, there's the ever-popular worry about global warming, rising sea levels, and dropping oxygen levels in the ocean. (The latter apparently has a bit of reality behind it, as reported in the Miami Herald - although I'd like to know more about how the data was gathered.)

The earthquakes, coming apocalypse, and all that are probably due to rock music, pesticides and Walmart. Or, not. I've seen too many doomsayers come, sell their books, and fade away to take any predictions of impending catastrophe at face value.

Besides, what would really be disturbing would be if decades of measurements showed absolutely no change in the natural world. That just wouldn't be natural.

From another blog:

"Nothing endures but change."
(Heraclitus, 540 BC - 480 BC)

So why are conservationists trying to keep everything just like it was?

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