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Earthquakes wreak havoc in Armenia

Earthquakes wreak havoc in Armenia


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Two earthquakes hit Armenia on December 7, 1988, killing 60,000 people and destroying nearly half a million buildings. The two tremors, only minutes apart, were measured at 6.9 and 5.8 in magnitude and were felt as far away as Georgia, Turkey and Iran.

It was 11:41 a.m. when the first, more powerful, earthquake hit three miles from Spitak, a city of about 30,000, and 20 miles northwest of Kirovakan. The epicenter was not far below the surface, which accounts in part for the terrible destruction. Also, only four minutes later, the 5.8-magnitude tremor struck nearby, collapsing buildings that had barely managed to hold during the first quake. An eight-mile rupture of the earth—several feet wide in spots—was later found to have been caused by the quakes.

Spitak experienced near total destruction. Most of the structures in the city were either cheaply constructed or had brick or stone roofs and nearly all collapsed from the shaking. In Leninakan, Armenia’s second largest city with close to 300,000 residents, about 80 percent of the buildings failed to stand. The sheer scale of destruction overwhelmed the country’s ability to respond. Worse still, officials (controlled by the Soviet government at the time) delayed giving permission for rescuers and relief workers to enter the area. In fact, 10 days after the quakes, all foreigners were ordered out.

Those rescuers who were able to enter worked for over a week trying to find survivors. The last survivor was pulled out from under rubble on December 15. Many experts believe that the death toll may have far exceeded the initial 60,000 estimate in part because thousands of people experienced crushing injuries during the quake. These victims often experienced kidney problems following the trauma and died when local health officials were not equipped to treat them.

When rebuilding began in subsequent years, more attention was paid to using appropriate construction materials and putting height limits on buildings.


Seismo Blog

Very often it is not a single instant but a chain of events which turn a rare natural occurrence into a devastating natural disaster. One of the prime examples of how much havoc a sequence of events can cause took place sixty years ago today in the area around Hebgen Lake near Yellowstone National Park in southwestern Montana.

Even sixty years after the Hebgen Lake earthquake, the fault scarp is clealy visible in the forest near Cabin Creek camp. The ground in the foreground, where the visitors stand, dropped by almost 20 feet in this normal fault earthquake
Photo: Horst Rademacher

Hebgen Lake is an idyllic body of water, famous for its trout fishing. The lake was created in 1914 when the Montana Power Company impounded the Madison River with the concrete-core Hebgen Dam. Several geologic fault lines parallel the north shore of the lake. They were, however, deemed to be inactive and to pose no danger to the reservoir. Every summer, hundreds of sportfishermen flock to the lake, stay overnight in the dozens of campgrounds or the many cabins and resorts which dot the lake's shores. Mid-August is usually the height of the tourist season in this area, so many campgrounds were full on the fateful night of August 17, 1959. That night a chain of natural events turned this peaceful vacation spot into a devasting death trap in which almost 30 people perished.

The havoc began shortly before midnight when visitors and locals alike were rudely awakened by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake. It's severe ground shaking was the first blow, which struck the area. The quake's epicenter was located along the north shore of Hebgen Lake almost directly beneath Cabin Creek campground. This temblor turned out to be a normal fault earthquake in which the lake-facing flank of the fault, which had been deemed “dormant”, dropped by almost 20 feet. Boulders the size of refrigerators shaken loose by the quake tumbled onto tents and trailers on the campground, immediately killing several visitors. The sudden drop of ground along the fault also caused the state highway on the north shore of the reservoir to collapse into the lake, blocking the only escape route to the east.

Like ghosts these leafless trees stick out of Earthquake Lake sixty years after the lake was created by a giant landslide. The scar of the slide is still visible on the mountain flank in the rear.
Photo: Horst Rademacher

The sudden downward shift of the ground also had a dangerous side effect – the second punch to hit Hebgen Lake that night. It caused the water in the 12000 acre lake to slosh back and forth for almost half a day. The run-up of lake water on the shores drowned people who were sleeping in nearby cabins and huts. This standing water wave is known by its French name as a seiche and has been observed in many lakes and reservoirs. At least four times the sloshing of the lake caused water to overtop Hebgen Dam, resulting in cracks and severe erosion. An inspection during the next few days showed that the dam was on the verge of collapse.

However, less than six miles downstream from the dam, another side effect of the earthquake caused a much more severe and immediate problem. The shaking of the seismic waves mobilized the entire flank of a mountain on the south side of Madison River. When it collapsed, 73 million metric tons of rocks and debris slid down the slope in one of the most massive landslides ever observed in the United States. At least 19 people were buried alive in this giant slide. The slide – the third blow in the chain of events that fateful night - also wiped out the state highway to the west, effectively trapping the hundreds of campers and locals in the area of devastation.

At the same time, the slide completely blocked the flow of the Madison River. The water immediately began to accumulate behind the natural dam piled up by tons of slide debris. Although the Army Corps of Engineers began to breach this dam a few weeks after the catastrophe, the outflow was kept to a minimum so as not to wreak havoc by producing a sudden flood downstream. Even today, sixty years after the disaster struck, Earthquake Lake fills the valley, with leafless ghost trees sticking out of its waters. These trees died after being inundated by the impounding of the Madison River.

Today, from the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center built by the US Forest Service on the remnants of the dramatic landslide, visitors can view the havoc created by the chain of events that began with the earthquake on August 17, 1959, and learn the story of how it changed the area forever. (hra168)


Contents

The opening to the Persian Gulf was described, but not given a name, in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a 1st-century mariner's guide:

At the upper end of these Calaei islands is a range of mountains called Calon, and there follows not far beyond, the mouth of the Persian Gulf, where there is much diving for the pearl-mussel. To the left of the straits are great mountains called Asabon and to the right there rises in full view another round and high mountain called Semiramis between them the passage across the strait is about six hundred stadia beyond which that very great and broad sea, the Persian Gulf, reaches far into the interior. At the upper end of this gulf there is a market-town designated by law called Apologus, situated near Charaex Spasini and the River Euphrates.

In the 10th–17th centuries AD, the Kingdom of Ormus, which seems to have given the strait its name, was located here. Scholars, historians and linguists derive the name "Ormuz" from the local Persian word هورمغ Hur-mogh meaning date palm. [5] [ dubious – discuss ] In the local dialects of Hurmoz and Minab this strait is still called Hurmogh and has the aforementioned meaning. [ citation needed ] The resemblance of this word with the name of the Zoroastrian god هرمز Hormoz (a variant of Ahura Mazda) has resulted in the popular belief [ citation needed ] [ neutrality is disputed] that these words are related.

Jodocus Hondius labels the Strait Basora fretum ("Strait of Basra") on his 1606 map of the Ottoman Empire.

To reduce the risk of collision, ships moving through the Strait follow a Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS): inbound ships use one lane, outbound ships another, each lane being two miles wide. The lanes are separated by a two-mile-wide "median". [6]

To traverse the Strait, ships pass through the territorial waters of Iran and Oman under the transit passage provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. [7] Although not all countries have ratified the convention, [8] most countries, including the U.S., [9] accept these customary navigation rules as codified in the Convention.

In April 1959 Iran altered the legal status of the strait by expanding its territorial sea to 12 nautical miles (22 km) and declaring that it would recognize only transit by innocent passage through the newly expanded area. [10] In July 1972, Oman also expanded its territorial sea to 12 nautical miles (22 km) by decree. [10] Thus, by mid-1972, the Strait of Hormuz was completely "closed" by the combined territorial waters of Iran and Oman. During the 1970s, neither Iran or Oman attempted to impede the passage of warships through the strait, but in the 1980s, both countries asserted claims that were different from customary (old) law. Upon ratifying UNCLOS in August 1989, Oman submitted declarations confirming its 1981 royal decree that only innocent passage is permitted through its territorial sea. The declarations further asserted that prior permission was required before foreign warships could pass through Omani territorial waters. [10] Upon signing the convention in December 1982, Iran entered a declaration stating "that only states parties to the Law of the Sea Convention shall be entitled to benefit from the contractual rights created therein", including "the right of transit passage through straits used for international navigation". In May 1993, Iran enacted a comprehensive law on maritime areas, several provisions of which conflict with UNCLOS provisions, including a requirement that warships, submarines, and nuclear-powered ships obtain permission before exercising innocent passage through Iran's territorial waters.The United States does not recognize any of the claims by Oman and Iran and has contested each of them. [10]

Oman has a radar site Link Quality Indicator (LQI) to monitor the TSS in the Strait of Hormuz. This site is on a small island on the peak of Musandam Governorate. [ citation needed ]

A 2007 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies also stated that 17 million barrels passed out of the Persian Gulf daily, but that oil flows through the Strait accounted for roughly 40% of all world-traded oil. [11]

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2011, an average of 14 tankers per day passed out of the Persian Gulf through the Strait carrying 17 million barrels (2,700,000 m 3 ) of crude oil. This was said to represent 35% of the world's seaborne oil shipments and 20% of oil traded worldwide. The report stated that more than 85% of these crude oil exports went to Asian markets, with Japan, India, South Korea and China the largest destinations. [7] In 2018 alone, 21 million barrels a day were passing through the strait - this means $1.17 billion worth of oil a day, at September 2019 prices. [12]

Tanker War Edit

The Tanker War phase of the Iran–Iraq War started when Iraq attacked the oil terminal and oil tankers at Iran's Kharg Island in early 1984. [13] Saddam Hussein's aim in attacking Iranian shipping was, among other things, to provoke the Iranians to retaliate with extreme measures, such as closing the Strait of Hormuz to all maritime traffic, thereby bringing American intervention. [13] Iran limited the retaliatory attacks to Iraqi shipping, leaving the strait open. [13]

Operation Praying Mantis Edit

On 18 April 1988, the U.S. Navy waged a one-day battle against Iranian forces in and around the strait. The battle, dubbed Operation Praying Mantis by the United States, was launched in retaliation for the USS Samuel B. Roberts striking a mine laid in the channel by Iran on 14 April 1988. U.S. forces sank one frigate, one gunboat, and up to six armed speedboats, as well as seriously damaging a second frigate.

Downing of Iran Air 655 Edit

On 3 July 1988, 290 people were killed when an Iran Air Airbus A300 was shot down over the strait by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG-49) when it was wrongly identified as a jet fighter.

Collision between USS Newport News and tanker Mogamigawa Edit

On 8 January 2007, the nuclear submarine USS Newport News, traveling submerged, struck MV Mogamigawa, a 300,000-ton Japanese-flagged very large crude tanker, south of the strait. [14] There were no injuries, and no oil leaked from the tanker.

Tensions in 2008 Edit

2008 U.S.–Iranian naval dispute Edit

A series of naval stand-offs between Iranian speedboats and U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz occurred in December 2007 and January 2008. U.S. officials accused Iran of harassing and provoking their naval vessels, but Iranian officials denied the allegations. On 14 January 2008, U.S. Navy officials appeared to contradict the Pentagon version of the 16 January event, in which the Pentagon had reported that U.S. vessels had almost fired on approaching Iranian boats. The Navy's regional commander, Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, said the Iranians had "neither anti-ship missiles nor torpedoes" and he "wouldn't characterize the posture of the US 5th Fleet as afraid of these small boats". [15]

Iranian defence policy Edit

On 29 June 2008, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said that if either Israel or the United States attacked Iran, it would seal off the Strait of Hormuz to wreak havoc in the oil markets. This followed more ambiguous threats from Iran's oil minister and other government officials that an attack on Iran would result in turmoil in the world's oil supply.

Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet stationed in Bahrain across the Persian Gulf from Iran, warned that such Iranian action would be considered an act of war, and the U.S. would not allow Iran to hold hostage nearly a third of the world's oil supply. [16]

On 8 July 2008, Ali Shirazi, a mid-level clerical aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted by the student news agency ISNA as telling the Revolutionary Guards, "The Zionist regime is pressuring White House officials to attack Iran. If they commit such a stupidity, Tel Aviv and U.S. shipping in the Persian Gulf will be Iran's first targets and they will be burned." [17]

Naval activity in 2008 Edit

In the last week of July 2008, in the Operation Brimstone, [18] dozens of U.S. and foreign naval ships came to undergo joint exercises for possible military activity in the shallow waters off the coast of Iran.

As of 11 August 2008, more than 40 U.S. and allied ships reportedly were en route to the Strait of Hormuz. One U.S. carrier battle group from Japan would complement the two which are already in the Persian Gulf, for a total of five battle groups, not including the submarines. [19]

Collision between USS Hartford and USS New Orleans Edit

On 20 March 2009, United States Navy Los Angeles-class submarine USS Hartford collided with the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans in the strait. The collision, which slightly injured 15 sailors aboard Hartford, ruptured a fuel tank aboard New Orleans, spilling 25,000 US gallons (95 m 3 ) of marine diesel fuel. [20]

U.S.–Iran tensions in 2011–2012 Edit

On 27 December 2011, Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi threatened to cut off oil supply from the Strait of Hormuz should economic sanctions limit, or cut off, Iranian oil exports. [21] A U.S. Fifth Fleet spokeswoman said in response that the Fleet was "always ready to counter malevolent actions", whilst Admiral Habibollah Sayyari of the Iranian navy claimed that cutting off oil shipments would be "easy". [22] Despite an initial 2% rise in oil prices, oil markets ultimately did not react significantly to the Iranian threat, with oil analyst Thorbjoern Bak Jensen of Global Risk Management concluding that "they cannot stop the flow for a longer period due to the amount of U.S. hardware in the area". [23]

On 3 January 2012, Iran threatened to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier back into the Persian Gulf. Iranian Army chief Ataollah Salehi said the United States had moved an aircraft carrier out of the Persian Gulf because of Iran's naval exercises, and Iran would take action if the ship returned. "Iran will not repeat its warning. the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Gulf of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf", he said. [24]

The U.S. Navy spokesman Commander Bill Speaks quickly responded that deployment of U.S. military assets would continue as has been the custom stating: "The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce." [25]

While earlier statements from Iran had little effect on global oil markets, coupled with the new sanctions, these comments from Iran are driving crude futures higher, up over 4%. [ citation needed ] Pressure on prices reflect a combination of uncertainty driven further by China's recent response – reducing oil January 2012 purchases from Iran by 50% compared to those made in 2011. [ citation needed ]

The U.S. led sanctions may be "beginning to bite" as Iranian currency has recently lost some 12% of its value. Further pressure on Iranian currency was added by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé who was quoted as calling for more "strict sanctions" and urged EU countries to follow the US in freezing Iranian central bank assets and imposing an embargo on oil exports. [26]

On 7 January 2012, the British government announced that it would be sending the Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring to the Persian Gulf. Daring, which is the lead ship of her class is one of the "most advanced warships" in the world, and will undertake its first mission in the Persian Gulf. [27] The British Government however have said that this move has been long-planned, as Daring will replace another Armilla patrol frigate. [28]

On 9 January 2012, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi denied that Iran had ever claimed that it would close the Strait of Hormuz, saying that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is the most important provider of security in the strait. if one threatens the security of the Persian Gulf, then all are threatened." [29]

The Iranian Foreign Ministry confirmed on 16 January 2012 that it has received a letter from the United States concerning the Strait of Hormuz, "via three different channels." Authorities were considering whether to reply, although the contents of the letter were not divulged. [30] The United States had previously announced its intention to warn Iran that closing the Strait of Hormuz is a "red line" that would provoke an American response. [31] Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this past weekend that the United States would "take action and re-open the strait", which could be accomplished only by military means, including minesweepers, warship escorts and potentially airstrikes. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told troops in Texas that the United States would not tolerate Iran's closing of the strait. Nevertheless, Iran continued to discuss the impact of shutting the Strait on world oil markets, saying that any disruption of supply would cause a shock to markets that "no country" could manage. [32]

By 23 January, a flotilla had been established by countries opposing Iran's threats to close the Hormuz Strait. [33] These ships operated in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea off the coast of Iran. The flotilla included three American aircraft carriers (the USS Carl Vinson, the USS Enterprise and USS Abraham Lincoln) and three destroyers (USS Momsen, USS Sterett, USS Halsey), seven British warships, including the destroyer HMS Daring and a number of Type 23 frigates (HMS Westminster, HMS Argyll, HMS Somerset and HMS St Albans), and a French warship, the frigate La Motte-Picquet . [34]

On 24 January, tensions rose further after the European Union imposed sanctions on Iranian oil. A senior member of Iran's parliament said that the Islamic Republic would close the entry point to the Persian Gulf if new sanctions block its oil exports. [35] "If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed," Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, told the semi-official Fars News Agency.

2015 seizure of MV Maersk Tigris Edit

On 28 April 2015, IRGCN patrol boats contacted the Marshall Islands-flagged container ship Maersk Tigris, which was westbound through the strait, and directed the ship to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department. When the ship's master declined, one of the Iranian craft fired shots across the bridge of Maersk Tigris. The captain complied and proceeded into Iranian waters near Larak Island. The US Navy sent aircraft and a destroyer, USS Farragut, to monitor the situation. [36]

Maersk says they have agreed to pay an Iranian company $163,000 over a dispute about 10 container boxes transported to Dubai in 2005. The court ruling allegedly ordered a fine of $3.6 million. [37]

2018 threats of strait closure Edit

In July 2018, Iran again made threats to close the strait. Citing looming American sanctions after the U.S withdrew from the JCPOA deal earlier in the year. [38] Iran's Revolutionary Guards reported they were ready to carry out the action if required. [39]

In August 2018, Iran test-fired a ballistic missile for the first time in 2018. According to the officials, the anti-ship Fateh-110 Mod 3 flew over 100 miles on a flight path over the Strait of Hormuz to a test range in the Iranian desert. "It was shore-to-shore", said one U.S. official describing the launch, who like the others requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information. [40]

2019 threats of strait closure Edit

On 22 April 2019, the U.S. ended the oil waivers, which allowed some of Iran’s customers to import Iranian oil, without risking financial penalties as part of the U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. Again, this had implication playing out in the Strait of Hormuz, as Iranian threats of Strait closure was put forward in April 2019. [41]

Aljazeera quoted Major-General Mohammad Baqeri of the Iranian Armed Forces, stating "We are not after closing the Strait of Hormuz but if the hostility of the enemies increases, we will be able to do so". [42] Baqeri is also quoted for stating "If our oil does not pass, the oil of others shall not pass the Strait of Hormuz either". [41]

2019 U.S.–Iran tensions and attacks on oil tankers Edit

On the morning of 13 June 2019, the oil tankers Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous were both rocked by explosions shortly before dawn, the crew of the latter reported seeing a flying object strike the ship the crew were rescued by the destroyer USS Bainbridge while the crew of the Front Altair were rescued by Iranian ships. That afternoon, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo issued a statement accusing Iran of the attacks. Iran subsequently denied the accusations, calling the incident a false-flag attack. [43]

In July 2019, a Stena Bulk Tanker, Stena Impero, sailing under a British flag, was boarded and captured by Iranian forces. [44] The spokesman for Iran's Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, was quoted as describing the seizure as a "reciprocal action." This was presumed to be in reference to the seizure of an Iranian Tanker, Grace 1, bound for Syria in Gibraltar a few days prior. [45]

In 2020, France deployed about 600 troops at sea and in the air under the CTF474 to protect maritime trade, regional business, and to ease local tensions. Since the first week of April 2020, the operation combines the Dutch frigate Ruyter, the French frigate Forbin, and one french airplane ATLANTIC2 (ATL2). [46]

2020 Iranian military activity Edit

In May 2020, Iran launched missiles at one of their own ships in a friendly fire accident, killing 19 sailors. [47]

2021 Iranian ship seizure Edit

On 4 January 2021, the Tasnim News Agency reported that a South Korea-flagged oil vessel headed from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates was seized for allegedly causing pollution violations. The cargo was said to be roughly carrying ethanol in 7,000 tonnes of quantity. South Korea refused to comment on the accusation of causing oil pollution in the Strait of Hormuz. The ship, Hankuk Chemi, was headed to the UAE port Fujairah after loading oil from Jubail, Saudi Arabia on 2 January 2021, as per ship-tracking data gathered by Bloomberg. [48]

2021 sinking of Iranian ship Edit

In June 2021, one of Iran's largest naval ships, the Kharg, sank after catching burning for hours. [49]

Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz on multiple occasions, most notably in 2008, 2012, 2018 and 2019. [50] Traditionally, the motivations of the threats have been as a response to U.S. provocations, and a number of economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.S. targeting both the Iranian oil market and other economic sectors. [51] [52]

It is widely acknowledged [ weasel words ] that even a partial closure of the Strait would wreak havoc on the global oil markets and pose a severe threat to energy security. Additionally, a closing of the Strait would also have severe consequences for Iran itself. Economically, Iran would face consequences in terms of their own dependency on oil revenues and commerce through the Strait, such as medical products and food. [53] In terms of international opinion, the threat of closing the Strait would severely damage Iran’s relations with states who are engaging with them economically. If Iran were to block maritime traffic through the Strait, the violation of international norms and damage to the global economy would likely result in international support for the U.S. acting against Iran. Iran’s use of its territorial advantages in the Strait of Hormuz is therefore more effective as a threat than if a complete or partial closure of the Strait were to be actually executed. [54]

Iran has a number of options regarding the threats of blocking the Strait of Hormuz: (1) A full closure of the Strait, which is an immense threat to global oil markets, and would likely result in a significant rise in oil prices. (2) Harassment of tanker traffic and damage to infrastructure, as was seen in the Iran–Iraq war in the 1980s. Again, this action would be a risk to energy security, and the steady flow of oil through the strait. (3) Continue threats of Strait closure in response to U.S sanctions, or conduct more naval exercises, displaying Iranian naval capabilities. [55]

Millennium Challenge 2002 was a major war game exercise conducted by the United States armed forces in 2002. According to a 2012 article in The Christian Science Monitor, it simulated an attempt by Iran to close the strait. The assumptions and results were controversial. In the article, Iran's strategy beats the materially superior US armed forces. [56]

A 2008 article in International Security contended that Iran could seal off or impede traffic in the Strait for a month, and an attempt by the U.S. to reopen it would be likely to escalate the conflict. [57] In a later issue, however, the journal published a response which questioned some key assumptions and suggested a much shorter timeline for re-opening. [58]

In December 2011, Iran's navy began a ten-day exercise in international waters along the strait. The Iranian Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, stated that the strait would not be closed during the exercise Iranian forces could easily accomplish that but such a decision must be made at a political level. [59] [60]

Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, was quoted in a December 2011 Reuters article: "Efforts to increase tension in that part of the world are unhelpful and counter-productive. For our part, we are comfortable that we have in the region sufficient capabilities to honor our commitments to our friends and partners, as well as the international community." In the same article, Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution, said, "The expectation is that the U.S. military could address any Iranian threat relatively quickly." [61]

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in January 2012 that Iran "has invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz." He also stated, "We've invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that." [62]

In May 2012, a learned article concluded that both the UNCLOS and the 1958 Convention on the High Seas would be violated if Iran followed through on its threat to block passage through the Straits of vessels such as oil tankers, and that the act of passage bears no relation in law to the imposition of economic sanctions. The coastal state is limited in its powers to prevent passage: 1) if threat or actual use of force against its sovereignty, its territorial integrity, or its political independence or 2) the vessel in any other way violates the principles of international law such as embodied in the Charter of the United Nations. [63]

If Iran were to follow through on its threats to completely or partially close of the Strait, one of the world’s most strategically important maritime choke points, the most effective way would be through the use of its anti-access/area-denial capabilities. [64] These capabilities are meant to prevent advanced navies or other opponents to operate in the Strait and the Persian Gulf, and would be of particular concern to the U.S. [65] In 2016, it was assessed that Iran’s military strength was weak, even compared to regional rivals. However, since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, a significant part of Iran’s military spending has been allocated to the asymmetric warfare approach of its naval capabilities, the anti-access/ anti-denial (A2/AD) systems. [66] The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran have a number of these capabilities available, and in short reach of the Strait. Examples of these are as follows:

• Coastal air defences, long-range artillery and anti-ship missiles. [65]

• A significant fleet of small boats and manpower available, which can be used to manoeuvre around larger vessels in swarming (military) tactics. These small attack crafts can be armed with machine guns, torpedoes and anti-ship missiles. [64]

• Naval mine-laying capabilities. Iran possess and produces a variety of naval mines, e.g. bottom-moored contact mines moored and bottom-influence mines drifting mines and remotely controlled mines. [67] In 2010, Iran was estimated to have at least 2,000 moored and drifting contact mines from Soviet, Western and Iranian sources. [64] Iran’s fleet of small vessels, speedboats and submarines can be used for its rapid and covert mine-laying capabilities. [65]

However, Iran’s anti-access/area-denial capabilities are filled with operational difficulties, and the use of these tactics would prompt a military response from the U.S.

The United States Navy and United States Air Force in the Gulf region is far stronger than that of Iran, and while an Iranian attempt to close of the Strait can cause damage, the U.S. is able to defeat it. [68] [65] A key interest to the U.S. in the Persian Gulf, is the free flow of oil and natural gas through the Strait of Hormuz. [69] This is why the U.S relies on a substantial navy and air-force presence, which secures the traffic through the Strait, and are prepared to counter Iranian attempts to blockade it. Most notably, this includes the United States Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, and the Al Udeid Air Base, housing troops from the United States Air Force [70] [71]

In June 2012, Saudi Arabia reopened the Iraq Pipeline through Saudi Arabia (IPSA), which was confiscated from Iraq in 2001 and travels from Iraq across Saudi Arabia to a Red Sea port. It will have a capacity of 1.65 million barrels per day. [72]

In July 2012, the UAE began using the new Habshan–Fujairah oil pipeline from the Habshan fields in Abu Dhabi to the Fujairah oil terminal on the Gulf of Oman, effectively bypassing the Strait of Hormuz. It has a maximum capacity of around 2 million barrels per day, over three-quarters of the UAE's 2012 production rate. The UAE is also increasing Fujairah's storage and off-loading capacities. [72] [73] The UAE is building the world's largest crude oil storage facility in Fujairah with a capacity of holding 14 million barrels to enhance Fujairah's growth as a global oil and trading hub. [74] The Habshan – Fujairah route secures the UAE's energy security and has the advantage of being a ground oil pipeline transportation which is considered the cheapest form of oil transportation and also reduces insurance costs as oil tankers would no longer enter the Persian Gulf. [75]

In a July 2012 Foreign Policy article, Gal Luft compared Iran and the Strait of Hormuz to the Ottoman Empire and the Dardanelles, a choke point for shipments of Russian grain a century ago. He indicated that tensions involving the Strait of Hormuz are leading those currently dependent on shipments from the Persian Gulf to find alternative shipping capabilities. He stated that Saudi Arabia was considering building new pipelines to Oman and Yemen, and that Iraq might revive the disused Iraq–Syria pipeline to ship crude to the Mediterranean. Luft stated that reducing Hormuz traffic "presents the West with a new opportunity to augment its current Iran containment strategy." [72]


Melting Glaciers Are Wreaking Havoc on Earth’s Crust

You've no doubt by now been inundated with the threat of global sea level rise. At the current estimated rate of one-tenth of an inch each year, sea level rise could cause large swaths of cities like New York, Galveston and Norfolk to disappear underwater in the next 20 years. But a new study out in the Journal of Geophysical Research shows that in places like Juneau, Alaska, the opposite is happening: sea levels are dropping about half an inch every year.

How could this be? The answer lies in a phenomenon of melting glaciers and seesawing weight across the earth called “glacial isostatic adjustment.” You may not know it, but the Last Ice Age is still quietly transforming the Earth’s surface and affecting everything from the length of our days to the topography of our countries.

During the glacier heyday 19,000 years ago, known as the Last Glacial Maximum, the Earth groaned under the weight of heavy ice sheets thousands of feet thick, with names that defy pronunciation: the Laurentide Ice Sheet, the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet, and many more. These enormous hunks of frozen water pressed down on the Earth’s surface, displacing crustal rock and causing malleable mantle substance underneath to deform and flow out, changing the Earth’s shape—the same way your bottom makes a depression on a couch if you sit on it long enough. Some estimates suggest that an ice sheet about half a mile thick could cause a depression 900 feet deep—about the  of an 83-story building.

The displaced mantle flows into areas surrounding the ice sheet, causing that land to rise up, the way stuffing inside a couch will bunch up around your weight. These areas, called “forebulges,” can be quite small, but can also reach more than 300 feet high. The Laurentide Ice Sheet, which weighed down most of Canada and the northern United States, for example, caused an uplift in the central to southern parts of the U.S. Elsewhere, ancient glaciers created forebulges around the Amazon delta area that are still visible today even though the ice melted long ago.

As prehistoric ice sheets began to melt around 11,700 years ago, however, all this changed. The surface began to spring back, allowing more space for the mantle to flow back in. That caused land that had previously been weighed down, like Glacier Bay Park in Alaska and the Hudson Bay in Canada, to rise up. The most dramatic examples of uplift are found in places like Russia, Iceland and Scandinavia, where the largest ice sheets existed. In Sweden, for example, scientists have found that the rising land severed an ancient lake called Malaren from the sea, turning it into a freshwater lake.

At the same time, places that were once forebulges are now sinking, since they are no longer being pushed up by nearby ice sheets. For example, as Scotland rebounds, England sinks approximately seven-tenths of an inch into the North Sea each year. Similarly, as Canada rebounds about four inches each decade, the eastern coast of the U.S. sinks at a rate of approximately three-tenths of an inch each year—more than half the rate of current global sea level rise. A study published in 2015 predicted that Washington, D.C. would drop by six or more inches in the next century due to forebulge collapse, which might put the nation’s monuments and military installations at risk.

Some of the most dramatic uplift is found in Iceland. (Martin De Lusenet, Flickr CC BY)

Recent estimates suggest that land in southeast Alaska is rising at a rate of 1.18 inches per year, a rate much faster than previously suspected. Residents already feel the dramatic impacts of this change. On the positive side, some families living on the coast have doubled or tripled their real estate: As coastal glaciers retreat and land once covered by ice undergoes isostatic rebound, lowland areas rise and create "new" land, which can be an unexpected boon for families living along the coast. One family was able to build a nine-hole golf course on land that has only recently popped out of the sea, a New York Times article reported in 2009. Scientists have also tracked the gravitational pull on Russell Island, Alaska, and discovered that it’s been weakening every year as the land moves farther from the Earth’s center.

Uplift will increase the amount of rocky sediment in areas previously covered in water. For example, researchers predict that uplift will cause estuaries in the Alaskan town of Hoonah to dry up, which will increase the amount of red algae in the area, which in turn, could damage the fragile ecosystems there. In addition, some researchers worry that the rapid uplift in Alaska will also change the food ecosystem and livelihood for salmon fishers.

At the same time, there are a lot of new salmon streams opening up in Glacier Bay, says Eran Hood, professor of environmental science at the University of Alaska. “As glaciers are melting and receding, the land cover is changing rapidly,” he says. “A lot of new areas becoming forested. As the ice recedes, salmon is recolonizing. It’s not good or bad, just different.” 

The rate of uplift due to glacial isostatic adjustment around the world Antarctica and Canada are expected to rise the most. (By Erik Ivins, JPL. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Although not as visible, all the changes caused by glacier melt and shifting mantle is also causing dramatic changes to the Earth’s rotation and substances below the earth’s surface.

As our gargantuan glaciers melted, the continents up north lost weight quickly, causing a rapid redistribution of weight. Recent research from NASA scientists show that this causes a phenomenon called “true polar wander” where the lopsided distribution of weight on the Earth causes the planet to tilt on its axis until it finds its balance. Our north and south poles are moving towards the landmasses that are shrinking the fastest as the Earth’s center of rotation shifts. Previously, the North Pole was drifting towards Canada but since 2000, it’s been drifting towards the U.K. and Europe at about four inches per year. Scientists haven’t had to change the actual geographic location of the North Pole yet, but that could change in a few decades.

Redistribution of mass is also slowing down the Earth’s rotation. In 2015, Harvard geophysicist Jerry Mitrovica published a study in Science Advances showing that glacial melt was causing ocean mass to pool around the Earth’s center, slowing down the Earth’s rotation. He likened the phenomenon to a spinning figure skater extending their arms to slow themselves down.

Glacial melt may also be re-awakening dormant earthquakes and volcanoes. Large glaciers suppressed earthquakes, but according to a study published in 2008 in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, as the Earth rebounds, the downward pressure on the plates is released and shaky pre-existing faults could reactivate. In Southeast Alaska, where uplift is most prevalent, the Pacific plate slides under the North American plate, causing a lot of strain. Researchers say that glaciers had previously quelled that strain, but the rebound is allowing those plates to grind up against each other again. “The burden of the glaciers was keeping smaller earthquakes from releasing tectonic stress,” says Erik Ivins, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Melting glaciers may also make way for earthquakes in the middle of plates. One example of that phenomenon is the series of New Madrid earthquakes that rocked the Midwestern United States in the 1800s. While many earthquakes occur on fault lines where two separate plates slide on top of each other, scientists speculate that the earthquakes in the New Madrid area occurred at a place where hot, molten rock underneath the Earth’s crust once wanted to burst through, but was quelled by the weight of massive ice sheets. Now that the ice sheets have melted, however, the mantle is free to bubble up once again.

Scientists have also found a link between deglaciation and outflows of magma from the Earth, although they’re not sure why one causes the other. In the past five years, Iceland has suffered three major volcanic eruptions, which is unusual for the area. Some studies suggest that the weight of the glaciers suppressed volcanic activity and the recent melting is 20-30 times more likely to trigger volcanic eruptions in places like Iceland and Greenland.

The wandering poles: Until recently earth's axis had been slowly moving toward Canada, as shown in this graphic now, melting ice and other factors are shifting Earth's axis toward Europe. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Much of the mystery pertaining to ancient glaciers is still unsolved. Scientists are still trying to create an accurate model of glacial isostatic adjustment, says Richard Snay, the lead author of the most recent study in the Journal of Geophysical Research. “There’s been such software since the early '90s for longitude and latitude measurements but vertical measurements have always been difficult,” says Snay. He and colleagues have developed new equations for measuring isostatic adjustment based off of a complex set of models first published by Dick Peltier, a professor at the University of Toronto. Peltier’s models don’t only take into account mantle viscosity, but also past sea level histories, data from satellites currently orbiting the Earth and even ancient records translated from Babylonian and Chinese texts. “We’re trying to look at glaciation history as a function of time and elasticity of the deep earth,” says Peltier. “The theory continues to be refined. One of the main challenges of this work is describing the effects that are occurring in the earth’s system today, that are occurring as a result of the last Ice Age thousands of years ago.”

Added on to all the unknowns, researchers also don’t know exactly how this prehistoric process will be affected by current patterns of global warming, which is accelerating glacial melt at an unprecedented rate. In Alaska, global warming means less snow in the wintertime, says Hood.

“There is a much more rapid rate of ice loss here compared to many regions of the world,” he says. “The human fingerprint of global warming is just exacerbating issues and increasing the rate of glacial isostatic adjustment.”

And while the effects may vary from city to city—local sea levels may be rising or dropping—it’s clear that the effects are dramatic, wherever they may be. Although many of glaciers have long gone, it’s clear that the weight of their presence still lingers on the Earth, and on our lives.


Earthquakes wreak havoc in Armenia - Dec 07, 1988 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

Two earthquakes hit Armenia on this day in 1988, killing 60,000 people and destroying nearly half a million buildings. The two tremors, only minutes apart, were measured at 6.9 and 5.8 in magnitude and were felt as far away as Georgia, Turkey and Iran.

It was 11:41 a.m. when the first, more powerful, earthquake hit three miles from Spitak, a city of about 30,000, and 20 miles northwest of Kirovakan. The epicenter was not far below the surface, which accounts in part for the terrible destruction. Also, only four minutes later, the 5.8-magnitude tremor struck nearby, collapsing buildings that had barely managed to hold during the first quake. An eight-mile rupture of the earth—several feet wide in spots—was later found to have been caused by the quakes.

Spitak experienced near total destruction. Most of the structures in the city were either cheaply constructed or had brick or stone roofs and nearly all collapsed from the shaking. In Leninakan, Armenia’s second largest city with close to 300,000 residents, about 80 percent of the buildings failed to stand. The sheer scale of destruction overwhelmed the country’s ability to respond. Worse still, officials (controlled by the Soviet government at the time) delayed giving permission for rescuers and relief workers to enter the area. In fact, 10 days after the quakes, all foreigners were ordered out.

Those rescuers who were able to enter worked for over a week trying to find survivors. The last survivor was pulled out from under rubble on December 15. Many experts believe that the death toll may have far exceeded the initial 60,000 estimate in part because thousands of people experienced crushing injuries during the quake. These victims often experienced kidney problems following the trauma and died when local health officials were not equipped to treat them.

When rebuilding began in subsequent years, more attention was paid to using appropriate construction materials and putting height limits on buildings.


Seismo Blog

This weekend's rain brought delight to skiers and snowboarders. What fell as droplets in the Bay Area metamorphosed into snow flakes in the Sierra Nevada and its foothills. The snow brought smiles to more faces than just the outdoor enthusiasts'. Officials of the various agencies supplying drinking water to the Bay Area rejoiced in the renewal of the snow pack - and thus also of our water supply. Because most of us drink, shower and cook with melted snow.

Earthquakes pose a major risk to that water supply. The pipelines and tunnels carrying clean snow melt from the Sierras to our houses cross major faults in the East Bay. Even a moderate quake on one of those faults can wreak havoc with these lifelines - and experts predict that your faucets may remain dry for weeks after a really big quake. All the local water agencies are therefore engaged in major seismic upgrades of their infrastructure, be it pipelines, tunnels, or water treatment plants. We all bear the costs for these upgrades through surcharges on our water bills, like the $1.18 per month that is added to the blogger's bill.

Take the example of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD), which supplies water to 1.2 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. It spent more than 35 million of its surcharge dollars to upgrade the Claremont Tunnel through the Berkeley Hills. Built in 1929, this 3.4 mi long, 9 ft wide tunnel connects the treatment plant in Orinda with EBMUD's pipe network west of the hills. At peak demand, it can carry 175 million gallons of water per day. The tunnel itself is a sturdy piece of engineering. It would continue to serve well, if it were not for the Hayward fault, which it crosses at an almost right angle 850 ft from its western portal. During the 79 years of the tunnel's existence, the creeping of the fault has caused 13 inches of offset of the reinforced tunnel lining (see red arrows in figure).

Evidence of fault creep in EBMUD's Claremont Water Tunnel. (Picture courtesy of D. Lee, EBMUD.)

However creepy this movement may make the engineers feel, they are even more worried about a major earthquake along this section of the Hayward Fault. The reason: There is a one in three chance that the fault will break in a quake of magnitude 6.7 or greater during the next 30 years (see blog October 10, 2008). In 1994, experts estimated that a quake-caused disruption of the water supply through the Claremont Tunnel would result in economic losses of about $1.9 billion. Read more about how EBMUD made the tunnel safer in the next blog. (hra023)


At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.

With diplomatic negotiations with Japan breaking down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable, but nothing had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 a.m., two radar operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Thus, the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base.

Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while valiantly attempting to repulse the attack. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory.

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind.

The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives.


Scientists From Russia Warned that America is Coming Mega Earthquake

In a new report prepared for Prime Minister Putin by the Institute of Physics of the Earth warned that America in the next two weeks is in danger of catastrophic proportions Earthquake .
Focusing on the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America, and the region along the west coast of the New Madrid zone Fault.

SCIENTISTS have urged government officials to prepare for a terrifying and unprecedented magnitude-9 mega-earthquake that would unleash a deadly tsunami with 30 metre-high waves.

CASCADIA AND THE ‘REALLY BIG ONE’

The Cascadia subduction zone is a region where two tectonic plates are colliding. The Juan de Fuca, a small oceanic plate, is being driven under the North American plate, atop which the continental U.S. sits.

Subduction systems—where one tectonic plate slides over another—are capable of producing the world’s largest known earthquakes. A prime example is the 2011 Tohoku earthquake that rocked Japan.

Cascadia is seismically very quiet compared to other subduction zones—but it’s not completely inactive. Research indicates the fault ruptured in a magnitude 9.0 event in 1700. That’s roughly 30 times more powerful than the largest predicted San Andreas earthquake. Researchers suggest that we are within the roughly 300- to 500-year window during which another large Cascadia event may occur.

The report also warned that further catastrophic earthquakes in Asia and the sub-continent, as “more than likely.”

Increasing concern about the possibility Mega Earthquake, the report says, is based on the growth of subtle electromagnetic signals that were detected in the upper atmosphere of the earth in many parts of the world, with the most intense they appear on the U.S. West Coast and parts of the Midwest.

It is important to note that Russian and British scientists are leaders in predicting earthquakes based on these subtle electromagnetic signals and have joined forces to launch a satellite into space, to better track them.
More ominously, the report is that Russian scientists have confirmed the independent analysis of New Zealand mathematician and long-term weather trends forecaster Ken Ring, who predicted the deadly earthquake in Christchurch (N. Zealand), and this week issued a new warning that the new earthquake should strike around 20 March.

Scientists have declared that it is a matter of “when, not if” a devastating earthquake strikes New Zealand, unleashing a mega-tsunami that could wreak havoc across large parts of the world. Geologists in New Zealand claim the Hikurangi Subduction Zone is one of the world’s biggest faultlines and there is evidence that it could soon set off a quake and a subsequent tsunami. The rupture of the fault line would cause damage and destruction on a scale bigger than the Japanese quake and tsunami of 2011.

Ring explains his methodology for predicting earthquakes in the following way:

“Planets strong influence on the Earth, but indirectly, by influencing the Sun. Some planets are very large. If the sun were basketball, the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn would be the size of a grapefruit, and the Earth on such a scale would be the size of a grain of pepper.

Jupiter and Saturn cause extra tides on the Sun (as in the case of the Earth and the Moon). These large solar tides become solar activity and solar flares.

At the moment, Jupiter and Saturn are on opposite sides of the Sun, and create time tug of war with Earth in the center. It began in September of last year, and will continue until about May.
In September, the Earth was in line with the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn.

That’s why in different places earthquakes above seven points. For example, in Pakistan, there was an earthquake at the same time with the earthquake in Christchurch. This alignment of Jupiter Saturn will continue until about May, and the Earth will be back on line in March. That is why around 20 March to expect accidents, large earthquakes may, when the Moon may be again in the position of the trigger element. “

Referred to in this report, low pressure associated with catastrophic earthquakes in the Midwest, which today continues to suffer from heavy rainfall, and in particular affect on the New Madrid fault in Arkansas, which is only in the last six months has experienced 800 earthquakes.

But the most ominous in this report is a warning that penetrated faults California can survive the most devastating earthquake last decades as new reports for this region show the mass death of millions of fish, just like when whales stranded on the beaches of New Zealand for a few days before the destruction of Christchurch on February 22.

Further clouds the situation and that the sun continues to emit large solar flares.

Interestingly, the U.S. declared the rare exercises with the U.S. military, the CIA, Canadian representatives of the U.S. Treasury and the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the agency ready response to the threats, and the Red Cross between March 21-25 at Fort Leavenworth, staff Kansas, and if the worst happens, they certainly will be ready.

“Much more than the earthquake, the tsunami would be the dangerous element.

“Waves of up to 30m could be seen and landfall could happen within just seven minutes notice.”

The preparedness plan is coordinating between scientists, government officials, emergency services, health providers, business experts and NFO leaders.

Martha Savage, professor of geophysics at Victoria University, said the longer the wait, the bigger the quake.

In summary, the report says that it is not to establish a solid and reliable prediction mechanism, which would have been recognized by the scientific community, it is worth noting too big to ignore abnormal number of matches, leading to catastrophic mega-earthquakes occurring around the world, and which ignored until then, until they pose a direct threat.

Geologists have recently been able to deploy hundreds of GPS monitors across Cascadia to record the subtle ground deformations that result from the plates’ inability to slide past each other. Just like historic seismicity, plate locking is more common in the northern and southern parts of Cascadia.

Geologists are also now able to observe difficult-to-detect seismic rumblings known as tremor. These events occur over the time span of several minutes up to weeks, taking much longer than a typical earthquake. They don’t cause large ground motions even though they can release significant amounts of energy. Researchers have only discovered these signals in the last 15 years, but permanent seismic stations have helped build a robust catalog of events. Tremor, too, seems to be more concentrated along the northern and southern parts of the fault.

Our results provide new insights into how this subduction zone, and possibly others, behaves over geologic time frames of millions of years. Unfortunately our results can’t predict when the next large Cascadia megathrust earthquake will occur. This will require more research and dense active monitoring of the subduction zone, both onshore and offshore, using seismic and GPS-like stations to capture short-term phenomena.

Our work does suggest that a large event is more likely to start in either the northern or southern sections of the fault, where the plates are more fully locked, and gives a possible reason for why that may be the case.

It remains important for the public and policymakers to stay informed about the potential risk involved in cohabiting with a subduction zone fault and to support programs such as Earthquake Early Warning that seek to expand our monitoring capabilities and mitigate loss in the event of a large rupture.

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Whence and Why the Earthquake in Turkey?

"Weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). When love has wept and worked, it must have some answers. Not all the answers, but some.

No earthquakes in the Bible are attributed to Satan. Many are attributed to God (2 Samuel 22:8 Isaiah 13:13 24:18–20 29:6 Psalm 60:2 Nahum 1:5–6 Revelation 6:12 8:5 11:13f 16:18). This is because God is Lord of heaven and earth. "He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him" (Luke 8:25). "He sends forth His command to the earth. . . . He gives snow like wool He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments who can stand before His cold? . . . He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow" (Psalm 147:15–18). "He looks at the earth, and it trembles He touches the mountains, and they smoke" (Psalm 104:32). "[He] shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble" (Job 9:6). And if the devils try to intrude on his control, "He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him" (Mark 1:27).

Earthquakes are ultimately from God. Nature does not have a will of its own. And God owes Satan no freedom. What havoc demons wreak, they wreak with God's permission. That's the point of Job 1–2 and Luke 22:31–32. God does nothing without an infinitely wise and good purpose. "He also is wise and will bring disaster" (Isaiah 31:2). "The LORD is good" (Psalm 100:5). Therefore, God had good and all-wise purposes for the heart-rending tragedy in Turkey that took thousands of lives on August 16, 1999.

Indeed, he had hundreds of thousands of purposes, most of which will remain hidden to us until we are able to grasp them at the end of the age. "How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord?" (Romans 11:33–34). "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever" (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Yet there are possible purposes revealed in the Bible that we may pray will come to pass.

  1. The end-time earthquakes in the book of Revelation (Revelation 6:12 8:5 11:13f 16:18) are meant as calls to repentance to warn people who deny Jesus Christ that a day is coming when unbelievers will cry to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb" (Revelation 6:16).
  2. The end-time earthquakes in Matthew 24:7–8 are meant to be interpreted as "the beginning of the birth pangs." That is, they are a wake-up call to this oblivious world that God's kingdom will soon be born so be alert and prepare to meet Jesus Christ.
  3. God's unilateral taking of thousands of lives is a loud declaration that "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away" (Job 1:21). The message for all the world is that life is a loan from God (Luke 12:20) and belongs to him. He creates it and gives it and takes it according to his own will and owes us nothing. He has a right to children (2 Samuel 12:15) and to the aged (Luke 2:29). It is a great gift to learn this truth and dedicate our lives to their true owner rather than defraud him till it is too late.
  4. The power felt in an earthquake reveals the fearful magnificence of God. This is a great gift since "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). Most of the world does not fear the Lord and therefore lacks saving wisdom.
  5. When the earth shakes under your feet there is a dramatic sense that there is no place to flee. In most disasters, the earth is the one thing that stands firm when wind and flood are raging. But where do you turn when the earth itself is unsafe? Answer: God.

May the Lord fulfill two other purposes for this painful catastrophe. 1) That Christians repent of worldliness. "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). 2) That Christians, around the world, step forward with extraordinary, sacrificial love to show more clearly the mercy of Christ who laid down his life in the midst of the Father's judgment.


Earthquake warning apps that can help you save lives

Such apps help people to keep their emergency kits, food and other supplies ready in advance.

SNS Web | New Delhi | June 11, 2020 9:58 pm

Seconds before an earthquake hits any part of the country, people residing in the region or in the nearby areas can now get a warning on their smartphones to duck and cover.

Unlike other natural calamities, earthquake is the one that takes place instantly and can wreak havoc, but of course, that depends on the magnitude as well as the intensity of the shock waves. But in all circumstances, the outcome can lead to disruptions to electricity and water supply.

Because of the advancement of technology, nowadays it is easier for people to use mobile apps to get advance notification about the earthquake taking place or about to take place in their nearby region. Such apps help people to keep their emergency kits, food and other supplies ready in advance.

Here we have listed a few such mobile apps. Pick the one that suits you the most.

1. Earthquake Network
This is an all-in-one mobile app that sends an alert to the users and keeps them updated about the nearby earthquake. The app gives you information on- Real-time detection, Epicenter estimation, Peak Ground acceleration and Magnitude estimation.
The free version of the app gives users access to earthquake history guide along with other features. Whereas premium users will get access to few additional features like earthquake notifications and in case of emergencies users can also access the chat room and exchange information during the earthquake.

2. Earthquake Pro
The app allows users to see earthquakes from around the globe in the recent past. Users can search and gain knowledge from all listed earthquakes that took place in the recent past.

It also gives information about the shape of tectonic plates. Along with this, the app alert users before the earthquake arrives with all the data including location, distance and magnitude of the earthquake.

This app comes with a built-in seismograph.

3. Earthquakes Tracker
Like its peers, this app also gives notifications and alerts about the earthquakes taking place in close proximity.

Users can also find detailed information about the earthquakes that took place in the past.

4. My Earthquake Alerts
Apart from receiving notifications and alerts, users can customise their alerts for their area.

This app also provides the exact location, depth and distance of the earthquake from your location.


Mudslides wreak havoc in California

On the 9th of January 2018 a destructive mudslide, in Santa Barbara and Ventura County, California, hit the community of Montecito the hardest. Houses and businesses were literally swept off of their foundations. Days later the death toll had risen to 20 with scores more injured.

100 homes were destroyed and 300 more were damaged. Vehicles were among the losses too.

Freeways and hotels have been closed indefinitely as the community faces an enormous cleanup. Power had been cut off to some areas, and drinkable tap water was not available. Search and rescue teams were very active as people remained missing.

California has just undergone a destructive, dry season that produced many wildfires these were followed by heavy rains. This dangerous cocktail of events is often followed by mudslides.

With climate change a serious threat, some are thinking California could continue to experience such disasters. Professor of Geography at UCLA, Glen MacDonald, spoke to CBC News about what could become California’s “new normal”.

“What is happening is climate change. We have been experiencing temperatures warming year after year now – this is exacerbating the contrast between our very dry summers and our wet winters. It’s essentially priming the pump for big fires, which are then followed by these landslide events. The new normal? It’s sort of like the normal that we had in the past, but on steroids.”

In 2014, California’s San Bernardino County experienced a mudslide that displaced 2,500 people and left one dead. California has become accustomed to possible mudslides, but it was the unprecedented torrential downpour that caused the latest mudslide.

Engineering around the climate

Demolition workers have begun the process of breaking down boulders that came off of the mountain during the mudslide of the 9th of January.

University Professor Laura Sullivan-Green who works in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at San Jose University explained how the wildfires in California had a ‘direct impact’ on the mudslide.

Talking to Fox News’ KTVU, she said that California’s Thomas Fire had caused 280-thousand acres of scorched earth. The burned vegetation, mixed with the heavy rains, made the hillsides of Montecito a prime candidate for flash flooding and a mudslide.

The consensus from most experts is that the woes experienced in California are because of civil engineering practices of old. Despite the dangers, even back then, construction in California continued. The situation is similar to that in Mexico City: arguably humans should never have inhabited areas prone to natural disaster.

Mexico City was hit by an earthquake last year, highlighting its unfortunate geographic positioning. This capital city is likely to experience violent earthquakes as it is was built on an ancient lake bed. For more on Mexico City, read our report from last year.

Sullivan-Green explains that other areas of California may also be in danger of mudslides, especially if they too have suffered the triggers experienced by Montecito. She says:

“Making sure that water can drain easily, and sandbagging to prevent erosion are, really, the key things right now. It can take up to two years for the soil to recover significant vegetation, as well as reduce the water-repelling chemical change.”

Encouragingly, research is being conducted at the University of Arkansas. In 2014, a team of researchers were given US$1.4 million to develop a system of remote-sensing technologies. These were designed specifically to help the relevant authorities predict a mudslide, rockslide or similar event in the area of California.

Richard Coffman, the assistant professor of civil engineering, and head of the project said:

“The hazard to infrastructure resulting from wildfires includes the initial damage associated with the wildfire and then secondary effects from the wildfire denuding the soil. To combat these hazards, transport officials typically rely on various maps that document burn severity, soil composition, geology and topography - but these tools do not offer the high spatial and temporal resolution of remote-sensing data.”

California has suffered, but the researchers will benefit as they have yet more data to add to their current studies. It will also assist those civil engineers hard at work figuring out how to protect vital infrastructure in areas where mudslides may simply be unavoidable.


Watch the video: Earthquake in Armenia (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Abdul-Muhaimin

    Remember this once and for all!

  2. Macandrew

    It is more important for people to find something interesting for relaxation, if something more important and deeper in meaning.



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