Friday, February 25, 2011

EQ NZ style

Looking at what is called a catastrophe in Christchurch--and being a trained catastrophe analyst, it is truly amazing to me how resilient humans truly are:

As usual, I am struck by the need for help post-disaster, and cannot help but wonder if anything preventative could have been done. The earthquake in Haiti was far "worse": as far as death toll and overall recovery efforts have proved. But if even our developed nations suffer catastrophic impacts, maybe we should truly start looking at how our "development" might create the pathways for destruction. In Chile, where a lot of energy and government funding is put into building infrastructure, recent similar events have not caused nearly the same catastrophic results:

Food for thought. NZ might be a great place for groundbreaking catastrophe research. No pun intended.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

from Volcano Mistress Number 2

Thanks, Liz, for the groovy MSH update! I always love hearing from my favorite volcano.

I need to get a new camera so I can post cool pictures like Liz on this site. For the moment, I'd like to make a note of how this blog got started, and why, we, as Volcano Goddesses (ok, maybe just Volcano Chicks, I don't want to incur the wrath of Pele), are here. I can at least speak for myself, at present.

To me, volcanoes represent the entire spectrum of death and rebirth that is a part of our entire existence on this planet. Plus, let's face it, hot magma and plates banging together below the surface of the earth is just sexy. And hot. Most literally.

Also volcanoes may have been where life first began in this world. As evidenced by this article:

Also, as an anthropologist and disaster analyst, I am very intrigued on how humans interact with volcanoes. Disaster is a HUMAN-created event. I will say this again, in a more scientific way: Disaster is ANTHROPOGENIC. Volcanoes erupt. They do not wake up one morning and decide to destroy a village. WE, as HUMANS, are in the path of an event. It then becomes a disaster. Take a look at Nevado del Ruiz. This wasn't even a very large eruption, but the resulting mudflows took all of the town of Armero. The occupants could have been led to safety if the warnings of the scientists had been adhered to, or even conveyed.

OK, so what does that have to with the price of tea in China? Well, our activities as humans are leading to more natural hazards: ineffective city planning and communications (Armero), icecaps melting and creating flood conditions (if you don't agree climate change is real that is another subject, I will try to stick to volcanoes here), building on landfills, building dams upstream from communities, and the list goes on and on. Let's just say as a catastrophe analyst I've looked at my fair share of buildings wondering whether or not they were worth insuring against "natural" hazards.

So, that's a little of my soapbox time. Basically, I think we should let volcanoes do what they do, and try to stay out of the way. Volcanoes do incredible things over the long term: make land more available for agriculture by refreshing topsoil mineral content, provide us insight into what is happening INSIDE our earth, produce unique artifacts for trade (obsidian), create new seafloor (daily!) and help create ozone. Additionally, here in the Pacific Northwest, we owe much of our rainforest to the volcanoes, which trap moisture to the west of the Cascades, making it rain A LOT.

Volcanoes remind us that as strong as we are, ultimately everything is temporary, and there are some things that are out of human control. To me, literally, I am reminded I am not in charge. I can breathe easy. The planet will still do what it does, as long as we don't blow it to pieces ourselves.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mt St Helens Seismic Swarm

 Mt St Helens from Windy Ridge (Photo by Liz Van Boskirk)
A swarm, consisting of small magnitude events, 
has been observed over the month of January 
2011. They range from a little over 4km in 
depth to sea level, and the epicenters occur 
on the crater to 9km NNW of the crater.
The last seven days: 
From The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network 
at the University of Washington. 


List of Earthquakes for the month of January: 
yy/mm/dd hh:mm:ss   deg.   deg.    km   Ml
11/01/03 18:53:44  46.19N 122.18W   2.5-0.6  AB
11/01/03 20:32:48  46.19N 122.18W   2.5 0.2  AA
11/01/08 08:32:09  46.19N 122.18W   3.6-0.7  AB
11/01/08 15:09:52  46.19N 122.19W   4.4-1.1  AC
11/01/08 15:10:24  46.19N 122.19W   2.1 0.2  AA
11/01/10 16:38:15  46.19N 122.18W   2.1 0.3  AB
11/01/12 09:41:30  46.20N 122.17W   3.4-0.3  AC
11/01/13 00:37:57  46.19N 122.19W   1.1-0.8  AC
11/01/13 03:46:31  46.19N 122.18W   3.6-0.2  AB
11/01/15 19:24:45  46.19N 122.17W   0.0 1.2  AA
11/01/18 06:41:50  46.19N 122.18W   3.1-0.4  AB
11/01/18 23:33:36  46.20N 122.19W   2.9 0.4  AA
11/01/21 22:58:35  46.19N 122.17W   3.5-0.9  AB
11/01/22 20:53:42  46.19N 122.18W   3.0-1.2  AB
11/01/23 06:31:31  46.19N 122.19W   2.3 0.6  BA
11/01/25 07:21:48  46.19N 122.17W   6.4-0.4  AD
11/01/25 22:07:24  46.20N 122.16W   4.5-0.5  AD
11/01/25 23:41:20  46.19N 122.19W   2.3 1.9  AA
11/01/26 15:33:10  46.19N 122.18W   2.8-0.3  AA
11/01/27 09:56:34  46.21N 122.19W   5.0-1.1  AB
11/01/27 13:27:00  46.19N 122.18W   4.1-0.1  AA
11/01/27 13:38:44  46.19N 122.18W   4.3-0.9  AA
11/01/29 02:01:29  46.19N 122.17W   6.5 0.6  AC
11/01/31 17:40:45  46.20N 122.18W   2.5 0.8  AA
11/01/31 17:48:05  46.20N 122.18W   3.5-0.5  AA
11/01/31 20:05:28  46.19N 122.18W   1.7 1.1  AA