Friday, June 17, 2005

more aftershocks

Another earthquake and aftershock offshore, closer to Eureka than last time, apparently occured last night. We felt nothing here, however. I've occasionally felt tremors that could be earthquake activity but they were so slight and brief that there was no way to tell.

According to reports I was able to find, the big quake (now upgraded to 7.2 in some reports) as well as the one last night, a 6.6, were side-to-side quakes, the result of plates brushing past each other as they move, rather than one sliding under the other. The side-to-side quakes generally don't cause tsunamis. So this was not the kind of quake that geologists know is coming, which will involve plates colliding and pushing each other up and down. That kind is likely to be more destructive.

It's pretty interesting to watch the coverage, though. Very little hard information about the actual quakes, and lots of human interest about how people were scared or were not scared. Most stories emphasize an alarmist tone, and try to make drama even where there isn't any.
That's pretty troubling when something is potentially important. When a bad quake does hit, we are going to need timely information, and I see nothing to give me confidence we will get it.

Even the earthquake maps from official sources aren't keeping up, and are maddeningly short of the kind of information that would help a somewhat informed citizen to understand what's going on.

On the whole, if this is a kind of shakedown cruise for a real crisis, it is not providing a lot of confidence.

Earthquakes all up and down the west coast, from South America to Alaska, have been more numerous and larger this past week. Southern CA got a 5.3 yesterday. But again, whatever the geologists are saying to each other isn't getting reported very well. Very disappointing, and potentially dangerous.

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