Earth Music: Seismic Listening

A few posts back, I said

Japan is one of my favorite places to watch, and there is a better place than the JMA to watch the shaking, but I’ll get to that in another post.

In hindsight, I should have said not that there is a better place to watch, but rather there is a more interesting place to watch. On lives a 24/7 live feed of the NIED monitoring system.

NIED is Japan’s National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention. The feed will give you a visual and audio idea of exactly how much movement Japan experiences. A lot of the audio alerts are simply very small earthquakes, generally under 3.0. Some are false triggers, like anywhere else on the globe has. A few times a day, if your timing is right, you can get lucky and listen to the larger ones. If your timing is really good, you might catch one of the major shakers. Chills have never truly reverberated up and down your spine until you hear a 6-pointer or higher in audio frequency form. It’s also fascinating to see the sensors light up when an earthquake occurs. You can get a general idea of how far the earthquake is felt, and to what degree to a point.

Be warned, watching the NIED stream can be quite addictive. I’ve been known to watch it as straight up entertainment, background noise, and a sleep aid. After a while, it does tend to get a bit dull if nothing’s going on. It’s a perfect sleep aid in quiet periods.

I don’t speak or read Japanese, so I honestly have no idea whatsoever what the feed’s video graphic data says. If you do read Japanese, I’d be thrilled if someone could offer a translation of it. Google Translate can only translate the text in the chat areas for me, not on the video graphic.

If you’re interested in poking around NIED’s website, I believe this is the English page. If nothing else, it is full of information for recent earthquakes.

Happy watching, and happy listening!



Mars One: Tangible Martians

Have you heard of the Mars One mission? No? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a promising endeavor to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2023. Read that year again. 2023. That’s a mere decade from now. When my kids are in their teens in 10 years, it will be the most monumental off-world achievement we as a species have accomplished yet – – human feet, on an entirely different planet. Not a rover, not an orbiter, but us. When my kids are adults, they’ll be eligible to apply to go to the colony.

That boggles. Okay, not really. It stirs up a little jealousy. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had my eyes skyward, wondering if we’d ever be able to venture in to the void of space beyond the moon’s orbit, and I don’t mean via probes or orbiters. I grew up in the Trekkie generation, I wondered if the Star Trek idea of exploring out there would ever come to fruition. In a way, it has with the Voyager probes, but the probes aren’t organic. Neither are the Mars rovers. It’s one thing to zap a rock & analyze it, analyze the air, or to scoop the soil and analyze it via a remotely operated robot. It’s a totally different one to have feet firmly planted on that soil, walking on those rocks, and taking in the scale and environment of that alien world through human contact firsthand. My childhood had that whimsical ideal, that low-odds hope of being able to do that. I doubt I will, as I’ll be middle-age when it happens, and probably not remotely close to the physical criteria. But my kids, or your kids? They could very well be the first wave of those Terran-Martian pioneers after the initial construction phases.

Mars One is a true exploration leap of faith, to do what has never been done before. Our species is a paradox, in that we are equally insatiably curious of the unknown, and terrified of it. One invariably wins out over the other, without a doubt. Here’s to turning the page in our book of exploration, and starting a whole new chapter on it.

Snowpocalypse Russia: ‘Snow tsunami’ swallows streets, cars, buildings (PHOTOS) — RT

Snowpocalypse Russia: ‘Snow tsunami’ swallows streets, cars, buildings (PHOTOS) — RT.

I stumbled on this article showcasing some of the massive snow depths Russia is dealing with right now. They’ve had a brutal winter so far, with temps as cold as -50 C (-58 F). One can assume that heavy snow paired with bitter cold temperatures is a foregone conclusion. Have a look at the articles, and be grateful if you’re happy to have yet another warm winter. Or be just plain jealous if you’re still waiting to happily freeze your buns off this winter.

I live in a warm climate, it never gets cold enough to snow here. It barely gets cold enough for frost, let alone freezes, more than a few times per winter. I live vicariously through pictures & articles like this. These locations are my climate heaven.

Hands-on with Corning’s bendable Willow Glass (exclusive) | CES 2013: Smartphones – CNET Blogs

Hands-on with Corning's bendable Willow Glass (exclusive) | CES 2013: Smartphones - CNET Blogs

Hands-on with Corning’s bendable Willow Glass (exclusive) | CES 2013: Smartphones – CNET Blogs.

I’m impressed with Willow Glass. Imagine the places you could see something like this. The article mentioned solar panels. Something like Willow Glass would make the average homeowner’s installation much easier. Just roll out, secure & done.

Or, on window shades. I could dig that. Close the blinds and have any visual image I please on it. A still image of a beautiful landscape. A moving fish tank application. That kind of use could be a real benefit for some people who could use the visual aid for mood stability.

Or perhaps fixed to the ceiling for aerial or astronomy. Now THAT I can dig, big-time! Cycle through Hubble images and simple sky view. I could definitely drift off to that. Others might find serenity in cloud types, or other atmospheric phenomena. Others might prefer flocks of birds, or planes, or even just the insinuation of looking up through trees blowing in the wind. It’s potential for a ceiling material is very much a good idea.

Another applicable use I thought of was on pillars or columns, such as at museums. Instead of flyers, this could take them place of them, and never need removed, but  simply updated for events.

It also occurred to me that this could be useful in classrooms. I realize there are similar products already available, but imagine this as a pull-down screen in class, or fixed to the wall as-is.

I’m looking forward to seeing Willow Glass on the market in the near future. I’d love to some day fall asleep watching the universe on shuffle.

Earthquake Study Finds That ‘Stable’ Faults May Cause Mega-Quake

CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Certain earthquake fault segments long thought to be stable may rupture and cause a mega-quake, suggests a new study.

That’s what happened during the 2011 magnitude-9 quake in Japan that triggered a tsunami and during the 1999 magnitude-7.6 Chi Chi quake in Taiwan.

In both cases, scientists assumed that “creeping” sections of a fault would serve as a buffer and prevent the entire fault from unzipping. But a new study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature suggests this may not always be the case.

Combining computer modeling and fieldwork, researchers at the California Institute of Technology and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology found that creeping segments sometimes snapped, resulting in a bigger quake than anticipated.

[worldnow id=8164737 width=480 height=360 type=video]

This may have important implications for California’s San Andreas Fault, which has a creeping section that separates the locked segments in Northern California…

View original post 185 more words

Earthquakes, just how many are there?

Earthquakes since 1898, by magnitude

Occasionally, I might decide to bore you to death with something extra dull, like seismology. Oh, I can sense the collective groans and disinterested eye rolls already. Yeah, been there, done that, it’s dull. Or is it? Actually, not so much. Seismology used to be a subject I found mind-numbingly, excruciatingly boring, too. Then I found some info resources out there that made it so much more intriguing than I thought.

For a quick refresher on the basics of the plates, here’s a list of the primary, secondary and micro tectonic plates. Hopping around the links there should provide enough basic info to get the gist of it.

First on the list of resources is a default starting point–the USGS. This link is the earthquakes map. You can configure it however your little heart desires along the controls on the left, and save the settings via the drop down menu on the map under ‘Settings’. Personally, I like to see everything as much as possible. I’m kind of like an earthquake voyeur that way. To see as many earthquakes as possible of all magnitudes, I have my ‘Data Feed’ set for ‘7 days, all’, and have it set to auto-update once a minute. Unless you prefer to sit through a page reload, just check that auto-update box & let it do the work for you. Then I scroll down to the ‘Control Panel‘ section on the left, and adjust it further. I have the ‘Earthquakes to display’ maxed out to 1000, so I never miss anything. I believe the default setting is 300. I don’t keep mine set for anything older than the past 24 hours, so I have the earthquakes age section set for between 0.0 and 1.0, meaning it won’t show anything older than 24 hours. I have the magnitude set for -1.0 and 10.0, so I’m seeing all the little shakes, rattles, and rolls available via USGS. It’s actually proven quite interesting to see where the micro quakes clusters are. I have my depth setting set for 0 to 1000, and the intensity I believe is maxed as per the default.

Hopefully that was easy enough to follow, and you’ve got your map rigged up the way you want.

What now? If you don’t intend to sit & stare at the map auto-updating every minute waiting to see what pops up and where, then scroll the list under the map and find a location, magnitude or depth that interests you. Click to open that earthquake’s summary page. Note that you can also click on of the EQ mag dots on the map and have that earthquake’s info pop up just as easily. On the box that pops upon the map with the earthquake info, right-click for a new tab (or however your browser’s set to allow new tab clicks) Congrats, you’re on the summary page looking at the time, location and nearest cities. What you can do from here is click ‘Summary’, which is the starting point where you already are, ‘Did You Feel It?’ which shows you how widespread it was felt & where you can report if you felt movement related to that earthquake, ‘Historic Seismicity’, which gives you a current year, and 2 other time frame categories, for the earthquake activity in the area. The other option is ‘Downloads’, which I’ve never personally done.

You’ve probably noticed that while the USGS covers the US, Caribbean, Central & South America, and the Asia/Pacific area rather well, that it lacks in the Mediterranean, Europe, Africa and Middle East. There are many other sources out there for other parts of the world. One for the Mediterranean and Europe is the EMSC list. It shows most worldwide earthquakes above a magnitude 5.0, and is a very good source for Europe & the Mediterranean specifically. They do occasionally list African & Middle Eastern earthquakes, but it is spotty. If you want to see New Zealand area earthquakes, you need to swing by GeoNet. For Japan, if you really want to just how much they shake that isn’t listed on the USGS, take a gander at the JMA.

Japan is one of my favorite places to watch, and there is a better place than the JMA to watch the shaking, but I’ll get to that in another post.

One other thing that I use and love is a program call QVS, or ‘Quakes, Volcanoes and Solar matters’. This little program was put forth by this blogger and as far as I’m concerned, it’s awesome. It pulls data from many sources, and gives you a better view of the seismicity of the planet without having to visit multiple sites. I use the program as a notification-type alert system for earthquakes. I get a pop-up notifying me of earthquakes from around the world about every 5 minutes or so. The pop ups can also reflect magnitude revisions, not just fresh quakes. I have on several occasions had the maps & lists closed, and had QVS pop up with alerts for major events I wouldn’t have known about for quite some time afterward.

If you don’t mind walking among the tin foil on Above Top Secret, a well-know & respected conspiracy theory forum, there is one final spot online I’d like to share. A lot of what I’ve mentioned is already listed here, on ATS’ Quake Watch 2013 thread. The main posters in the thread are extremely knowledgeable about seismology. If you have a question, odds are they can answer it, and logically.

Happy seismic watching!