The probability of earthquakes has changed following new study

earthquake 2

A new report by the U.S. Geological survey has introduced a new earthquake forecast model that changes the forecasts for magnitude, location, and likelihood as compared to the 2007 forecast model. The most significant change is the likelihood of medium (6.7-8) quakes has decreased while the likelihood of large (8+) quakes has increased. Looking at the entirety of California, the chance of a medium earthquake has gone from one every 4.8 years to one every 6.3 years while the chance of large earthquakes has gone from one every 617 years to one every 494 years. 

The evolution of the California earthquake forecast model has happened as we learn more and more about the complex fault system under our feet. 

As we can see the number of faults has increased twenty fold in the last 17 years. In the 1988 forecast, only 16 faults were considered while in 2015 350 faults were considered to create the model. Much of these recent fault finding efforts (pun certainly intended) were driven by the fact that the 1994 Northridge earthquake occurred on a previously unknown fault. There are two other important things that contributed to this revised forecast, the use of space based geology and the observation that earthquakes jump from fault to fault instead of being constrained to the fault that spawned them. Instead of several major fault-lines, the picture that emerges is of a vast interconnected fault system. 

While the implications for building codes depends largely on where exactly structures are located, there are some important general conclusions we can draw. Tall buildings and bridges are more at risk than previously thought whereas small single family houses are less likely to experience catastrophic damage. Also the popular assumption that small quakes release pressure and make large ones less likely has been revisited to take into account the connected multi-fault system. 

How to Prepare

  • Identify safe and dangerous spots in each room. Get under sturdy desks and tables, stay away from windows, fireplaces, and hanging objects.
  • Conduct Practice drills.
  • Decide where and how to reunite with loved ones if separated during an earthquake.
  • Learn how to shut off the water, gas, and electricity.
  • Get a first aid kit and learn CPR and basic first aid.

During the Earthquake

  • If outdoors, find an open area away from walls, buildings, power lines, and trees.
  • If driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop, avoid areas around power lines and stay in the car until the shaking has stopped.
  • If in a crowded public place, do not rush for the doors. Remain calm and cover your head and neck with arms.

After the Earthquake

  • Do not attempt to use the phone unless there is an urgent life threatening emergency.
  • Check for gas and water leaks as well as damaged electrical wiring. Call utility companies if necessary. Do not attempt to re-light the gas pilot without a thorough inspection.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Do not use your vehicle unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Help others in need.


How to feed the world


stop having so many kids

sorry to be callous but the planet is already way above capacity, if we were a restaurant the fire department would shut us down.

Better use and conservation of water, less petrol-fertilizers, genetic engineering, etc. are all good ideas but can come nowhere near solving the problem of global hunger.

Historically overpopulation has always seen a reaction from the forces of natural selection; Plagues

In fact, most of us carry genes that render us immune to the plagues our ancestors survived.

A long term stategy is important and it will be necessary to tell people they do not have the right to procreate if they can’t provide for the offspring.

If we don’t address the problem, mother nature may have to do it for us and I don’t think anyone would like a serious pandemic to solve the problem.


The World Without US by Alan Weisman

This is a non fiction book largely concerning what would happen to the earth if homo sapians suddenly disappeared.  There were two directly competing TV specials on the same topic but the book is obviously much more in depth albeit without great CGI.

The book starts off my examining the only truly primeval forest in Europe, the Bialowieza Puszcza in between Poland and Belarus.  The author then proceeds to examine the world before people, which of our constructions will last longer than others, and the lasting impact of our existence.

The most interesting thing about the world before people is all the various gigantic animals that were hanging out.  Then when we came along and the African animals evolved alongside us and came to understand how dangerous we are. Large animals in other parts of the world had no idea what we can do so they were easy slaughter. This is why there are no elephants and such in the Americas.

The most frightening part of the book was the end times of a nuclear power plant.  Thousands of simultaneous meltdowns all over the world isn’t a very nice picture but I suppose Chernobyl was bad and the deer came back (just don’t look at the mutated offspring).

I did start to imagine what it would be like if I were stuck on a planet without any other people, and then I allow myself a few friends, and the fantasy goes on like that.

Anyway here is a useful fact for everyone:

From the Vienna Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Sergi Scherbov. With regards to population growth, if we continue as is the population on the planet will be 9 Billion by the year 2050 (the current population is 6.5 Billion).  If each fertile female were limited to one child the population would be at 1.6 Billion by 2100.  I don’t think we should limit people’s offspring to one but the numbers how there should be a middle ground.


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