I get email


So I hear you East-coasters had a little earthquake. I grew up near volcanoes, so I’m not too impressed, but OK, a little shakeup is interesting, and fortunately it sounds like no one was hurt.

But wouldn’t you know it, the crack team of cranks who have my email address reacted promptly with an explanation.

these earthquakes are a result of us sucking the oil from the earth, oil is supposed to be used as a lubricant for the earth not to fill our cars, I imagine these things will get worse and more common

There you go. It’s all everyone’s fault for driving around in cars and flying in airplanes.

Comments

  1. It'spiningforthefyords says

    Obviously a joke. Not even a Poe.

    Going on at much greater length would’ve been funnier, and since it looks like a Lib take-off, linking it to animal rights and/or bioengineered food might’ve been a nice touch as well.

  2. says

    I suppose it should be noted that there is an actual lubricant that apparently prevents earthquakes in some regions of the San Andreas fault. Of course it’s talc, from serpentinite, at least.

    So lubricant can help, but there’s nothing we can do to either emplace it or to remove it.

    Glen Davidson

  3. says

    Actually, the guy who sent it to me was forwarding it from some youtube comments…so no, not a Poe. There are awesome levels of stupidity to be mined on youtube.

  4. pinkboi says

    This is why “straw man attack” should be called “youtube nitwit attack.” There is no position, however stupid, that hasn’t been advanced by someone on youtube (or perhaps yahoo answers).

    People are amazing at seeing agency where there is none. In the town where I grew up, ladybugs are freakishly plentiful in early spring. So much so that an urban legend that they are dropped by forest service helicopters persists to this day.

  5. ichthyic says

    is supposed to be used as a lubricant for the earth

    someone should introduce the earth to KY.

    much better lube.

    as to how the earth gets it on with itself…. I’m not even going to try to imagine.

  6. rob says

    i think it is god expressing displeasure with right wing lunatics. further evidence to show that i am right, is that god is going to make the sun set this evening.

  7. Allen L says

    Why oih why did I spend so much time in my tectonics courses when all I had to do was go onto YouTube. wait, I know the answer to that: that was back when people actually had to Learn something in school in order to get a degree.

    As my mom used to say about people like that “there are a lot of blissful people in the world”.

  8. TimKO,,.,, says

    Well obviously earthquakes are a post-industrial revolution phenomena. Those ancient groundshakes were just times when people angered the gods.

  9. jaycubed says

    I suppose it should be noted that there is an actual lubricant that apparently prevents earthquakes in some regions of the San Andreas fault. Of course it’s talc, from serpentinite, at least.

    So lubricant can help, but there’s nothing we can do to either emplace it or to remove it.

    Glen Davidson

    Serpentine does act as a lubricant, but it lubricates the faults in the earthquake zones. It is from such serpentine zones that most earthquakes around the Pacific ring originate.

    Serpentine is formed in subduction zones and contains water entrained during the process of burying ocean floor basalts in ocean trenches.

    So, serpentine actually promotes earthquakes by their lubricating quality.

    It also makes for poor quality soil, suitable for forests and cannabis growing but little else (not that those are in any way bad things)

  10. burnett210 says

    It was caused by the founding fathers turning over in their graves due to the current crop of repuglican presidential candidates.

  11. piranhaintheguppytank says

    Psalm 18:7 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

    Isaiah 29:6 Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.

    Haggai 2:6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;

    Nahum 1:5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.

    But then again… maybe there’s a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation.

  12. Rey Fox says

    Dang, now the URL doesn’t have the running total of “I Get Email”s* from the beginning. There were 87 volumes of it on Sb, and this is the first one I know of on FTB, though the URL has a “2” in it. I don’t remember if there were any on the old pharyngula.org.

    * Also, am I the only one who still habitually types a hyphen in “e-mail”?

  13. ichthyic says

    So, serpentine actually promotes earthquakes by their lubricating quality.

    I kinda doubt it’s all that simple in general, but even in the areas where you do have serpentine on both sides of a fault in significant amounts, the idea is to have more frequent, but smaller earthquakes.

    just to stress that it would be a GOOD thing, not a bad one.

    lube is always a good thing, come to think of it…

  14. Zinc Avenger says

    I’m expecting it to be declared to be the work of gays any minute now. Or possibly Teh God’s revenge for gays. Perhaps both, gays causing earthquakes as an instrument of Teh God’s wrath… against themselves!

  15. piranhaintheguppytank says

    Regarding #14, written by me…

    I also considered ending this post with:

    This message has been brought to you by the Republican National Committee.

  16. Upright Ape says

    What a crank. Of course this had nothing to do with oil. This was god’s warning for Virginia’s failure to recognize gay marriage.

  17. Rey Fox says

    lube is always a good thing, come to think of it…

    “THERE’S ALWAYS TIME FOR LUBRICANT!”

    (the only funny line in that movie, iirc)

  18. ichthyic says

    I’d also like to add that this IS a very interesting earthquake.

    it’s quite rare to get quakes of any significance in that area.

    Earthquake rates in the northeastern U.S. are 100 times lower than in California,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramapo_Fault

    so this particular quake should have the local geos squealing with glee.

  19. Rey Fox says

    Also, and finally, PZ or the coding wizards at FTB might want to put in the refractory period that Sb has to prevent multiple posting sprees like this one*.

    * But with spam**.

    ** Which is to say, obvious spam rather than just my pointless blather.

  20. Adviser Moppet says

    My husband and I felt it where we were about forty minutes outside of Philly. We didn’t know what it was at first but the windows were rattling and the whole house was shaking. It lasted for about 10-15 seconds or so.

  21. ichthyic says

    FTB might want to put in the refractory period

    Oh, HELLS no.

    just try to control yourself instead, eh?

  22. says

    Sorry, my fault. I was reading “Dracula” with my students; we needed a little atmosphere. I was going for a violent thunderstorm, but I must have hit the wrong button.

  23. piranhaintheguppytank says

    #19: Rey Fox says (23 August 2011 at 5:40 pm):

    piranha: Are you being serious?

    Well, the culprit could be angry Elves.

  24. piranhaintheguppytank says

    This is obviously Rick Perry’s fault!

    He prayed for an earthquake to throw off Obama’s golf swing.

  25. says

    Hasn’t anyone figured out that this is Jen McCreight’s fault?!? Wake up, sheeple!!! :)

    Jen is thus far silent on the issue, but I’m waiting to see if she will have any sarcastic remarks.

  26. says

    No, I do not want an enforced pause after commenting. The most frequent reason for a second post is to correct a typo, word left out, or mis-statement–and I want it right after the one with the error in it.

    I still use “e-mail” because I don’t want people’s first glance to read “em-ail” and because email means “enamel” in French.

    If large-scale farming takes enough water out of the ground, it can affect earthquakes, no?

  27. says

    I hate it when the idiocy makes my brain freeze up momentarily. By the time I come back to myself I have to use my hand to push my jaw back up and close my mouth.

    Don’t people THINK? (I know the answer; I just wish I was wrong.)

  28. Tam says

    @TimKO,,.,,

    I’ve actually heard of someone unironically use that same fucked-up logic. Some bigwig continental philosopher supposedly said that the Black Death couldn’t have been bubonic plague because it’s spread by germs, but the Germ Theory of Disease wasn’t discovered until much later. I could be misremembering the specifics, but it was that same logic all the same.

  29. says

    A little applied science:
    Any Lubricant -Serpentine, oil, mud, anything that lubricates, would eliminate earthquakes. Not movement, just the jerks, the quakes. Each little tic of a squeak in a squeaky wheel (think old wooden wagon wheels) is a tiny quake. Oil it and it is gone. The squeaking wheel gets the oil.

  30. broboxley OT says

    not a poe, there is a real pile of occultists that firmly believe that. First time I heard that theory was in 1976

    On quakes in the NE US, dunno where the fault lines are but Montreal suburb of Beloeil is like a trampoline of mini quakes

  31. F says

    This is why “straw man attack” should be called “youtube nitwit attack.”

    An ad hominem staminum attack?* **

    *I do know that the use of the phrase “ad hominem attack” is really a display of ignorance that means “someone was mean to me”.

    ** I don’t really do Latin. Corrections welcome.

  32. Michael A Mull says

    So the oil of the Earth is supposed to be a lubricant? I guess then that the Earth has a sore ass after a long hard fucking by humanity,and is now showing it’s displeasure?

  33. ichthyic says

    If large-scale farming takes enough water out of the ground, it can affect earthquakes, no?

    hmm.

    I know that in areas where liquefaction can occur, LOWERING the water table actually reduces the chance of dangerous quakes.

    you’ll have to read the whole thing to get a complete picture:

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/nca/liquefaction/

    that said, whether or not a specific aquifer would have an impact on a local fault would likely entirely depend on the local conditions.

    I would conclude that there is no general rule about the effects of lowering aquifer levels on earthquake potentials.

    That said, over-drafting has many potential adverse effects not related to earthquakes at all, many of these actually more deleterious than a slight increase in earthquake frequency, such as:

    -intrusion of salt water
    -subsidence (ask New Orleans)
    -impacts on rivers, lakes, and other bodies of freshwater
    -and, interestingly enough, because of what the water is usually over-drafted FOR (agriculture), we see actually significantly higher transpiration rates in some areas, which even has an effect on local weather and probably some small impact on the global warming issue.

  34. David Marjanović, OM says

    Obviously a joke. Not even a Poe.

    Ha. Comment 37 is right: hollow-worlders have believed this for decades. The stupid is real, and it burns.

  35. amphiox says

    Of course it’s talc, from serpentinite, at least.

    So does that make the purveyors of Baby Powder the heinous merchants of earthquakey death?

  36. cicely says

    Soooo…all those manymanymany earthquakes that took place before the Age of Oil Suckage…?

    as to how the earth gets it on with itself…. I’m not even going to try to imagine.

    Nonononono. When the Earth Mother and the Sky Father love each other very much….

    Well, the culprit could be angry Elves.

    You know, the Drow do live underground.

    Or, hey, it could be Shelob, or possibly some other, hitherto-suspected spawn of Ungoliant, getting fretfull.

    And am I the only one who thought, “Black blood of the Earth!”?
    -

  37. Nom de Plume says

    Know how you can tell there was an earthquake on the east coast today? Every network newscast devoted the first 10 minutes of their broadcast to it. Same deal happens when they get a snowstorm.

    Hey, I’m not discounting a 5.8 quake. I’ve been in them. But if this happened anywhere else but the NYC/D.C. news media nexus? It would get a 30-second mention. Maybe towards the end.

  38. Snowshoe the Canuck says

    I vaguely remember reading about a project in the Denver area that involved pumping liquid nuclear waste into deep formations. Shortly afterwards, many small earthquakes were recorded in the area.

    Lubricants make the Earth move for me too…

  39. ichthyic says

    That’s why some genius here in the California state legislature proposed a bill to get it removed as our state rock

    *headdesk*

    another thing to add to my list of “why I left California for New Zealand”

  40. ichthyic says

    “Black blood of the Earth!”?

    I love that flick.

    When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: “Have ya paid your dues, Jack?” “Yessir, the check is in the mail.”

  41. Pierce R. Butler says

    It’s all everyone’s fault for driving around in cars and flying in airplanes.

    Some of those evidently more informed than myself seem willing to argue that changes in geological pressure from the melting of glaciers might lead to tectonic twitches, at least in Iceland and suchlike neighborhoods.

    There are awesome levels of stupidity to be mined on youtube.

    Otoh, plundering certain raw materials from the Earth in sufficient quantities, particularly rich veins concentrated in one motherlode, virtually guarantees planetary imbalance. Please put it back, Prof. Myers!

  42. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    I related this post to my 69 year-old mother and she said: “Oh, I thought it was because it was summer and there are more boobs exposed.”

    :chortle:

  43. Nick says

    Unfortunately, my mother in-law believes that oil extraction is the reason for earthquakes. Thankfully her son didn’t inherit his intelligence from her. Or his figure.

    Rey Fox – shouldn’t it be e’mail?

  44. Korey says

    Hello Tower, This ROFLCopter requesting a landing on the north WTF pad at “We Must be on Jersey Shore” studio.

  45. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    That’s why some genius here in the California state legislature proposed a bill to get it removed as our state rock

    They do asbestos they can.

    <I’ll get my coat>

  46. coragyps says

    Oil extraction and injection of water to recover oil can, shore ’nuff, cause earthquakes. The only earthquakes ever documented here in beautiful Scurry County, Texas were all apparently from oil-production activities. None were as big as magnitude 5, though.

  47. mscrazypants says

    Maybe god jacking off without lube?

    That would explain why it started pouring down rain here as soon as the earthquake finished.

  48. Korey says

    No, you clearly haven’t been to England! God is a chick! And a chick doesn’t Jack off she Jill Offs! And that makes more sense for earth quakes and rain if god is a chick. She’s been Jilling off too much. Also explains the solar flares that just happen to be at max for the past max/min 11 year cycle!

  49. unbound says

    Actually, the local rethuglicans were having a primary. I figured that must have been the cause…

  50. piranhaintheguppytank says

    these earthquakes are a result of us sucking the oil from the earth, oil is supposed to be used as a lubricant for the earth not to fill our cars

    PZM thinks to himself: Nothing sexually suggestive in that extract. Can’t understand why so many commenters went blue. (And then he twirled his handlebar mustache and let out an evil laugh.)

  51. ChasCPeterson says

    oil is supposed to be used as a lubricant for the earth not to fill our cars

    And yet, indubitably, our cars fuck the earth.
    (As they burn the very lube itself to CO2 etc.)

    And so what is one to say about this conundrum?

    [sorry I haven’t been paying attention, but how to get proper subscripts here?]

  52. piranhaintheguppytank says

    #44, cicely says (23 August 2011 at 7:22 pm):

    You know, the Drow do live underground.

    Or, hey, it could be Shelob, or possibly some other, hitherto-suspected spawn of Ungoliant, getting fretfull.

    And am I the only one who thought, “Black blood of the Earth!”?

    I read Tolkien back in college (this was when the internet was in its infancy, you know, when dinosaurs walked the earth). But most of my knowledge of Tolkien comes indirectly through D&D. (Was there ever a Beholder* in any of Tolkien’s writings?)

    If Obama gets wind of this, he’ll send a Special Forces team to “double-tap” the Ungoliant. And then he’ll set about “democratizing” Middle Earth by sending “humanitarian aid” in the form of a fleet of predator drones — that is, if it turns out the Hobbits are sitting on top of oil reserves.

    ——————

    *In case you don’t know, this is a Beholder. While it may not be clear from the picture, this beast resembles a floating orb of flesh with a large mouth, single central eye, and lots of smaller eyestalks on top with deadly magical powers, such as to disintegrate objects, transmute flesh to stone, cause sleep, slow the motion of objects or beings, charm animals, charm humans, cause death, induce fear, levitate objects, and inflict serious wounds. Definitely not the sort of thing you’d want to meet in a dark alley!

    Oh wait. Maybe this is the creature in question. I sometimes get them confused.

  53. demonhype says

    Beneath These Streets

    In which the Ghostbusters, in investigating unusual heat waves and earthquakes on Manhattan Island, discover that the “cock” that grinds against the “cooch” of Manhattan has gone dry. To save Manhattan, the Ghostbusters must bust loose the reservoirs of lubricant to facilitate intercourse, lest Manhattan Island sink into the Atlantic from too much friction.

    Of course, they don’t say this, but it’s pretty clear what is meant. :) Plus, it had one of my favorite out-of-context quotes: “Awww, I know it smells bad down there, but you promised!”

  54. says

    sucking the oil from the earth, oil is supposed to be used as a lubricant for the earth

    What kind of freak uses lubricant for oral sex? Tell the earth to use something more palatable for the person doing the sucking, like chocolate syrup or whipped cream.

  55. says

    What the hell? What’s up with these annoying (and mildly sexist) video ads that start playing randomly when I open the page? It’s pretty irritating to try to read a thread when all the sudden a video starts playing telling me that “women everywhere choose Resolve Clean!”

  56. psanity says

    I read four mainstream news stories about the quake, and was struck by evidence of east-coast-centrism in the news — not one story I found online bothered to mention the time of the quake. Epicenter, check. Magnitude, check. Why mention the time when everybody felt it? I mean, obviously.

    Had to go to the USGS

    IME, the CA media always have the time. It’s useful to know how long your fridge has been off when you get home. Besides, people are busy, y’know, can’t check your watch every time there’s an earthquake. You’d never get anything done.

  57. says

    I read four mainstream news stories about the quake, and was struck by evidence of east-coast-centrism in the news — not one story I found online bothered to mention the time of the quake. Epicenter, check. Magnitude, check. Why mention the time when everybody felt it? I mean, obviously.

    Ummm, here’s a quote from an article from ABC News

    The earthquake, estimated to be a 5.8 magnitude, sent people pouring out of office buildings, hospitals, the Pentagon and the State Department when it struck at 1:51 p.m.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/earthquake-measured-58-magnitude-rattles-washington-york/story?id=14364643

    And this is from msnbc…

    The earthquake’s epicenter was near Mineral, Va., the USGS reported. It struck at 1:51 p.m. ET.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44245009/ns/us_news-life/

    I could go on.

    What sources were you reading? The one’s I saw clearly stated the time.

  58. ichthyic says

    What the hell? What’s up with these annoying (and mildly sexist) video ads that start playing randomly when I open the page?

    there is no ad vetting here, just like there was none on scienceblogs.

    evidently, the only people who pay to push flash ads to blog sites any more are crazed loons with nothing better to sell than crap.

    didn’t used to be that way, but maybe it is now.

    In any case, I would suggest two things:

    Write to the administrators of FreeThoughtBlogs.COM and tell them of your displeasure that they do not bother to properly vet their ads before unleashing them.

    and/or

    get yourself something like AdBlock Plus to simply remove the ads from being displayed.

    http://adblockplus.org/en/

    seriously, if the only ad-pushing business model left is un-vetted ads targeted to key search terms, then the idea of using ad revenue to sponsor blogs is fucking doomed.

  59. says

    ichthyc,

    Thanks for the advice. :)

    I’ll definitely check out the AdBlock thing (hopefully it works with FireFox), because I listen to music when I’m surfing the web, and it’s really annoying to have a video ad pop up out of nowhere. I don’t mind the banner ads and such, but why interrupt what I’m listening to? That’s just fucking rude.

  60. says

    Well, I went to the AdBlock website and FireFox promptly cockblocked me. I guess it doesn’t like that program. :-/

  61. ichthyic says

    Well, I went to the AdBlock website and FireFox promptly cockblocked

    uh, I’m using firefox and linked that site to you FROM firefox….

    something is seriously fubar about your setup.

    adblock plus is one of the oldest addons for firefox there is!

  62. says

    uh, I’m using firefox and linked that site to you FROM firefox….

    something is seriously fubar about your setup.

    adblock plus is one of the oldest addons for firefox there is!

    I’ll have to check my settings, and research on AdBlock to make sure there haven’t been any complaints about it. I tend to be really cautious about downloading programs and have firewalls and such set pretty restrictive. Sometimes I find when FireFox blocks a particular website, it’s just because it doesn’t recognize the source, and the site is harmless. Other times I find that I’m glad it blocked it.

  63. Thorne says

    Try going through the Firefox site, using the Add-ons item in the Tools menu. I’ve been using AdBlock Plus for years and don’t have any problems, or ads.

  64. Brown Jenkins says

    Increased lubrication on a fault line can cause the fault to slip, thereby causing an earthquake. Water can definitely act as a lubricant– there is some real evidence that some of the microquakes in areas like Arkansas are indeed caused by fracking. Quakes are often recorded underneath reservoirs from the weight of the water as well as water coating the fault surface. There is currently some debate that the large earthquake in Sichuan in 2008 may have been caused by fault shifting from the Zipingpu Dam, by warping the land on either side of the fault and lubricating it. Unfortunately, China is refusing to release seismological data, so we don’t really know.

  65. Samantha Vimes, Chalkboard Monitor says

    A geothermal project or two that injected water to get steam ended up triggering earthquakes. Nothing too big, but enough to make it seem like a bad idea. It really seems like quakes happen when lubricant is added, not removed.
    As for the commenter suggesting more lubricant would end earthquakes entirely… was that a joke? If not, consider that faults aren’t straight lines but jagged, interlocking edges of rock pressing together. No matter how much lubricant you’ve got, if the pieces cannot move past each other without bumping, grating, and coming to a shocked stop as two immovable outcrops strike each other, there’s gonna be a lot of vibration.

  66. kiki says

    Too fucking funny. Presumably this person thinks that the only problem with earthquakes is that they’re all grindy and unlubricated. If we weren’t taking all the oil out of the earth, the tectonic plates and all the surface matter attached to them would just glide smoothly around in an elegant pas de deux. You could look out of your window and wave at all the people happily drifting by as if they were on a conveyor belt, and the only inconvenience would be that we’d have to redraw all the street maps.

  67. kiki says

    And am I the only one who thought, “Black blood of the Earth!”?

    I didn’t, but I did think of There Will Be Blood, a great title for a great movie. I interpret the ‘There Will Be’ part not just as a prediction but as a resigned observation of past events, along the lines of ‘Boys will be boys’ – meaning, ‘These things have always been and will always be a problem’. In this context ‘blood’ refers not only to the most literal meaning of violence but also to family (‘blood ties’), religion (repeated references to the ‘blood of the lamb’), and to oil, which (although it doesn’t perform any sustaining function for the earth as the dimbulb in the post seems to think) seeps or gushes out of ‘wounds’ in the earth (imagery that is often highlighted in the film, particularly in the gloopy Matthew Barney-esque opening scenes) and can more literally be said to be the ‘lifeblood’ of the automobile and indeed the modern society that is taking root at the time when the film is set. So there.

  68. KG says

    Some of those evidently more informed than myself seem willing to argue that changes in geological pressure from the melting of glaciers might lead to tectonic twitches, at least in Iceland and suchlike neighborhoods. – Pierce R. Butler

    Yes, we know that melting of glaciers does bring about rebound as the weight is removed, and it’s thought this can contribute to intraplate earthquakes – so not in Iceland (which is right on a plate boundary), but in eastern North America, and continental northern Europe. So they could actually be right about oil-burning causing earthquakes, for completely the wrong reason.

  69. KG says

    I see the wikipedia article I pointed to suggests in passing that global warming could lead to more volcanic activity in Iceland, also via the melting of glaciers.

  70. abelundercity says

    Silly hollow-Earthers. Clearly the only logical explanation is that the Midgard Serpent was feeling a tad restive (perhaps he ate someone that disagreed with him) and shifted about, trying to get comfortable.

    It’s the only logical explanation.

  71. abelundercity says

    Crap. Bad phrasing and repetition. Serves me right for not reading through before posting.

  72. dionysis says

    Wes 71 There’s another add-on I use with Firefox as well as Adblock and Noscript to warn me of doubtful or dangerous websites. Its called WOT ( Web Of Trust ) that rates sites using colors like traffic lights.
    Another free programme is Spybot which will immunize you against attacks by dodgy websites.

  73. says

    Just remember, if you are going to make up a theory, say it with absolute certainty, that’s what science is, the voices told me so.

  74. Paul Davidson says

    This is high summer and all that (semi) exposed cleavage is obviously cause these earth quakes!!!!!!!!!!!

  75. barbarienne says

    I understand why Californians are laughing at us, but think about it. Tens of millions of people experienced their first earthquake. It is certainly newsworthy, not just a conspiracy of East Coast media conglomerates freaking out.

    I will note that now everyone has calmed down, there’s quite a bit of coverage given to the science of it, with actual geologists and other scientists giving fun demonstrations and talking about the bedrock shield and such.

  76. Vicki, running low on patience says

    Building and filling large reservoirs can also cause earthquakes. But mostly they just happen: I sit here in New York and figure that we’ve got old, mostly settled rock here, but “mostly” doesn’t mean entirely.

    The other thing about that old rock is that the seismic waves travel further through it: a 5.8 on the west coast wouldn’t have produced even this much swaying 200 miles away.

    And yes, all news is local: so I suppose it makes sense that this was on the front pages of a lot of newspapers this morning. And the “what to do next time” boxed information may benefit a few people in a more serious quake somewhere else. (Or even here, though the chances of that seem low.)

  77. Qwerty says

    Yes, earthquakes never happened prior to the invention of the gasoline cumbustion engine.

  78. Bethistopheles says

    I’m in Northeast Ohio. Apparently I’m the only one that didn’t feel *anything*. I remember one and only one earthquake….and that was around 1987. Damage toll? Cracked slab of cement in front of our steps. If we ever got something strong enough to cause major structural damage around here, we’d be shitting ourselves lol.

    And to the smug Californians: Fine. You can make fun of us for being excited over an itty bitty earthquake, but the next time you have conniptions over 3 inches of snow, we get to point and laugh heartily. Which, y’know, we would do anyway, but…just sayin’… ;)

  79. Random_Lurker says

    LMAO – speaking as a geologist, I’d never heard this argument before. This should draw some laughs in the department today. Usually we just hear the “goddidit because of the sinners” argument.

  80. 24fps says

    @ #73 — I immediately wondered if they were fracking in Virginia. It does cause small earthquakes, and I think there was a 4.3 (could be remembering this incorrectly) in northern British Columbia last year that was caused by fracking.

  81. says

    Hey, I’m not discounting a 5.8 quake. I’ve been in them. But if this happened anywhere else but the NYC/D.C. news media nexus? It would get a 30-second mention. Maybe towards the end.

    Indeed, they all seem to have completely missed the two 5+ quakes that Colorado experienced on 8/22 & 23.

  82. kev_s says

    You know how cows farting methane enhances the greenhouse effect? … well, less well known is the fact that cow shit (and bull shit … lots of that about) sinks into the ground and fills the holes previously occupied by oil .. thus keeping things slipping alone nicely.

  83. says

    re. #73 Yes if the rocks at the boundary is stressed a lube might help it quake. I meant to say the lube would over time tend to reduce the quakes, not eliminate quakes overnight.
    and #72 I would argue that the rough boundary you describe would quake and become over time, with lube, a smooth boundary like two grind wheels. And with continued lube like a piece of earth on a belt going by.

  84. kev_s says

    My first earthquake was experienced in an hotel during the night and in a half-asleep state I thought is was a couple going at it too enthusiastically in the next room. Only when I woke up did I realise it was an earthquake. But it made me think … if lots of people were bonking in the same direction it could set up a synchronous vibration that could make the earth move don’t you think? Has anyone tried to correlate earthquake activity with synchronous sexual activity? Got to be an interesting research project.

  85. jaycubed says

    A little applied science:
    Any Lubricant -Serpentine, oil, mud, anything that lubricates, would eliminate earthquakes. Not movement, just the jerks, the quakes. Each little tic of a squeak in a squeaky wheel (think old wooden wagon wheels) is a tiny quake. Oil it and it is gone. The squeaking wheel gets the oil.

    ramaus says:

    I’m afraid reality is not so simple for you to apply “science” so loosely.

    So, serpentine actually promotes earthquakes by their lubricating quality.

    I kinda doubt it’s all that simple in general, but even in the areas where you do have serpentine on both sides of a fault in significant amounts, the idea is to have more frequent, but smaller earthquakes.
    ichthyic says:

    It really is quite that simple. The explosive nature of Pacific rim volcanoes is also due to the presence of volatiles entrained within the serpentine. This is from my favorite (now inactive) geology blog All My Faults Are Stress Related:

    And then there’s serpentine, the hydrous magnesium-iron-aluminum silicate that forms from adding water to mantle rock. It’s the mineral that dominates the state rock of California (and the rock found in the core across the San Andreas Fault). And it is, presumably, a mineral that forms in the mantle wedge above the subducting plate, as the downgoing plate loses its water. (Some subduction zones also have evidence that it really is there – seismic waves traveling through the overriding plate are slowed by a material that has the right seismic velocity and other elastic properties to be serpentinite.)

    Serpentine is soft and slippery at surface conditions, so one might expect it to be weak in subduction zones, as well. But serpentine is brittle in low-pressure experiments (below 0.7 GPa, which would be equivalent to a depth in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 km) – near the surface, it breaks. The authors, however, managed to do deformation experiments at pressures of 1 to 4 GPa (equivalent to around 33 to 120 km – for a subduction zone beneath a continent, we’re talking about depths from the average base of continental crust to the base of the mantle lithosphere – though at a subduction zone, I’m not sure what is typically found at those depths).

    They found that serpentine behaves differently at different pressures, presumably because different deformation mechanisms are at work. At both pressures, the behavior could be modeled as power-law creep. Power-law creep means that the strain rate is related to stress taken to some power n – that is, the higher the stress, the faster the strain rate, and the higher the value of n, the more sensitive strain rate is to increases in stress. Power-law creep is typical of deformation mechanisms involving movement of dislocations (defects in a crystal lattice). But at lower pressures, the stress exponent was higher – increasing stress really made deformation happen more quickly – which is typical of sliding along grain boundaries. At higher pressures, the behavior was closer to that of a viscous material (though still with viscosities that change with stress).

    Ok, nice. So why, exactly, is this interesting? Well, for one thing, I usually think about the effect of temperature on deformation mechanisms, but I don’t usually see discussions of the role of pressure. Temperature’s important because intracrystalline deformation involves breaking chemical bonds, and higher temperatures generally make it easier to break and re-form bonds. In fact, I had always thought about the great depths of subduction-zone earthquakes as a function of the cold temperatures in the subducting slab. (The rock descends faster than heat can flow into it – among other things, that makes high pressure/low temperature metamorphic rocks possible.) So it’s interesting to see rheology controlled by pressure as well.

    For another, the experiments show that, at depths in the range of approximately 30 to 100 km, serpentine is much weaker than most other likely minerals (pyroxene, plagioclase, and wet and dry olivine – the likely constitutents of oceanic crust and mantle). Is the likelihood of large earthquakes on subduction zones governed by the presence or absence of serpentine, rather than age of subducting crust or rate of plate movement? This would seem difficult to test, but if the seismic velocity and Poisson ratio of serpentinites are unusual, maybe tests are possible.

    http://shearsensibility.blogspot.com/2007/12/serpentine-rheology-and-subduction-zone.html

  86. cicely, Inadvertent Phytocidal Maniac says

    I read Tolkien back in college (this was when the internet was in its infancy, you know, when dinosaurs walked the earth). But most of my knowledge of Tolkien comes indirectly through D&D. (Was there ever a Beholder* in any of Tolkien’s writings?)

    Ha! When I first read Tolkien (yes, back in college), the internet was not even a gleam in Al Gore’s eye, and we all said that those flashy dinos were just getting too big for their britches, and it would all end in tears. And we were right.

    I’m almost certain that there aren’t any beholders in the main books or the Silmarilion; the rest of the notes J.R.R.’s son posted, I don’t have a clue. Anything could be in there, for all I know.

    As it happens, Big Trouble in Little China had a very beholder-like creature in it.
    -

  87. drbunsen le savant fou says

    I always thought the Beholder was the result of a bad pun: as in “beauty is in the eye of …”

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