Earthquake, geology and landslide news - Understanding ancient geomagnetic reversal

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Understanding ancient geomagnetic reversal - December 30
Imagine one day you woke up, and the North Pole was suddenly the South Pole.
This geomagnetic reversal would cause your hiking compass to seem impossibly backwards. However, within our planet's history, scientists know that this kind of thing actually has happened... not suddenly and not within human time scales, but the polarity of the planet has in fact reversed, which has caused scientists to wonder not only how it's happened, but why.
This week, as the National Science Foundation (NSF) research vessel R/V Sikuliaq continues its journey towards its home port in University of Alaska Fairbanks' Marine Center in Seward, Alaska, she detours for approximately 35 days as researchers take advantage of her close proximity to the western Pacific Ocean's volcanic sea floors. With the help of three types of magnetometers, they will unlock more of our planet's geomagnetic history that has been captured in our Earth's crust there.
Read the full article here

Credit: Aric Velbel, Jurassic Magnetism

Credit: Aric Velbel, Jurassic Magnetism


Studying an Indonesian mud volcano with drones - December 29
The picture below shows a spectacular aerial view of a sunset over the Lusi mud eruption in East Java, Indonesia. Here thousands of cubic meters of mud, are spewed out every day from a 100 m sized central crater. Since the initial eruption of the volcano in 2006, following a 6.3 M earthquake, a surface of about 7 km2 has been covered by boiling mud, which has buried more than 12 villages and resulted in the displacement of 40,000 people.
Read the full article here

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Stanford scientists identify mechanism that accelerated the 2011 Japan earthquake - December 24
Stanford scientists have found evidence that sections of the fault responsible for the 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake that devastated northern Japan in 2011 were relieving seismic stress at a gradually accelerating rate for years before the quake.
This "decoupling" process, in which the edges of two tectonic plates that are frictionally locked together slowly became unstuck, transferred stress to adjacent sections that were still locked. As a result, the quake, which was the most powerful ever recorded to hit Japan, may have occurred earlier than it might have otherwise, said Andreas Mavrommatis, a graduate student in Stanford's School of Earth Sciences.
Mavrommatis and his advisor, Paul Segall, a professor of geophysics at Stanford, reached their conclusions after analyzing 15 years' worth of GPS measurements from the Japanese island of Honshu. Their results were published earlier this year in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Read the full article here

Science for the inner-crowd! - We encourage Open Science

Science for the inner-crowd! - We encourage Open Science


Panic video of the Indonesia deadly landslide - December 19
Dave Petley wrote in his landslide blog :
Hidden in the depths of Youtube is a quite amazing video, uploaded on 13th December, of the Banjarnegara district landslide in Central Java, Indonesia.  The current known loss of life from this event is 83 people, 25 people remain missing.  I cannot guarantee the authenticity of this video, although I’ve certainly not seen it before.  I must caution you to watch with care – whilst there are no directly horrific scenes, the sense of utter chaos and panic is disturbing – really disturbing. This is far from easy viewing.
Read the full Dave Petley article here

10 Pictures that will make you want to become a Geologist - December 17
Geology is a magnificent and unique science. What makes it so unique, you may rightly ask; well, a good geologist has to know something of everything: physics, chemistry, geography, math, biology, engineering, and many, many more. But it’s worth it, oh how it’s worth it!
Read the full article here

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Indonesia, Java, Landslide - December 16
Banjarnegara landslide death toll reaches 61
The death toll from last week’s landslide in the Jemblung hamlet of Banjarnegara, Central Java, has risen to 61 after search-and-rescue teams located five more bodies on Tuesday. Banjarnegara Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Wika Hardianto said that the death-toll increase was based on current data at the identification site and that not all victims were not residents of Jemblung. The identification process was assisted by the disaster victim identification unit of the Central Java Police and Wika added that approximately Jemblung residents were buried in the landslide.
Read the full article here

Ecuador, Tunnel collapse kills at least 13 - December 16
13 killed in tunnel collapse at Chinese-funded power station in Ecuador
Thirteen people were killed and 12 injured in a tunnel collapse at a Chinese-funded hydroelectric power station under construction in the Ecuadoran Amazon. Three Chinese people and 10 Ecuadorans died in the accident, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said on social media.
Ecuador’s public radio reported that the deaths occurred in the engine room at the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric station.
Read the full article here

Indonesia Java landslide kills at least 8, 100 missing - December 13
Below a raw video from RT showing desperate people digging out unfortunate people. We will report more on this landslide when more details become available.
An official with the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has said the death toll from the recent Banjarnegara landslide has risen to eight, with another 100 missing. He said the figure was far from final as the rescue operation was still ongoing.
The rescue team comprises officials from the BNPB, the local police, military personnel and the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas).
“The situation on the ground is still challenging. We need more tractors and backhoes to handle the situation,” BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a press statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
He said BNPB head Syamsul Maarif had reported the incident to President Joko Widodo and in the meantime the entire search and rescue operation was being led by the Banjarnegara regent with the assistance of the BNPB and its regional branches. (source Jakarta Post)


Virginia, USA  2011 M5.8 earthquake - December 12
Fault "Crossroads" May Have Been Origin Point for 2011 Virginia Earthquake
Following the August 23, 2011 event, USGS scientists conducted low-altitude geophysical (gravity and magnetic) flight surveys in 2012 over the epicenter, located about eight miles from the quake’s namesake. Maps of the earth’s magnetic field and gravitational pull show subtle variations that reflect the physical properties of deeply buried rocks. More research may reveal whether geologic crossroads such as this are conducive to future earthquakes in the eastern United States.
“These surveys unveiled not only one fault, which is roughly aligned with a fault defined by the earthquake’s aftershocks, but a second fault or contact between different rock types that comes in at an angle to the first one,” said USGS scientist and lead investigator, Anji Shah. “This visual suggests that the earthquake occurred near a ‘crossroads,’ or junction, between the fault that caused the earthquake and another fault or geologic contact.”
Deep imaging tools were specifically chosen because the earthquake occurred about five miles beneath the earth. Looking at faults in this way can help scientists better understand earthquake hazards in the eastern United States.

In map view, magnetic data were filtered (colors) to highlight geologic features near the earthquake depth. One contrast (blue dotted line) is aligned with aftershocks (black dots). The other crosses at an angle. They suggest that the earthquake (yellow star) occurred near a “crossroads,” or a complex intersection of different types of rock.

In map view, magnetic data were filtered (colors) to highlight geologic features near the earthquake depth. One contrast (blue dotted line) is aligned with aftershocks (black dots). The other crosses at an angle. They suggest that the earthquake (yellow star) occurred near a “crossroads,” or a complex intersection of different types of rock.

The USGS and partner scientists are also interested in why seismic events occur in certain parts of the central and eastern United States, like the Central Virginia seismic zone, since there are no plate boundaries there, unlike the San Andreas Fault in California, or the Aleutian Trench in Alaska.
USGS scientists still have remaining questions:  Could this happen elsewhere? How common are such crossroads?  Shah and other scientists are also trying to understand whether and why a junction like this might be an origin point for earthquakes.
“Part of it might be the complex stress state that arises in such an area. Imagine you have a plastic water bottle in your hand, and it has a cut (fault) in it the long way. When you squeeze the bottle, it pops (ruptures) where the cut is.  The long cut is comparable to an ancient fault – it’s an area of weakness where motion (faulting and earthquakes) is more likely to happen. Multiple intersecting cuts in that bottle produce zones of weakness where fault slip is more likely to happen, especially where two cuts intersect,” said Shah.
The situation near the fault on which the magnitude 5.8 Mineral earthquake occurred is more complex than that. For example, the fault may separate different types of rocks with varying densities and strengths, as suggested by the gravity data. This contributes to a complex stress field that could also be more conducive to slip.
Read the full article here


Fracking United Kingdom - December 11
Blackpool earth tremors during ‘fracking’ induced on ancient fault
New research has demonstrated that the 2011 Blackpool earth tremors during ‘fracking’ were induced on an ancient pre-existing fault.
Professor Peter Styles, Professor of Applied and Environmental Geophysics in the Applied & Environmental Geophysics Research Group in the School of Physical and Geographical Sciences at Keele University, with collaborators from Cuadrilla Resources and the Czech Academy of Sciences, have demonstrated the existence of the ancient pre-existing fault, some 300 metres away from the tip of the well, which slipped by only a few centimeters over a distance of only 200 metres.
In April and May 2011 a series of small seismic tremors were felt in the Blackpool area, the largest of which at Magnitude 2.3, was detected clearly on the Keele University seismometer some 100 kilometres away.
Exploration for shale gas had just commenced at a site near Preese Hall and the second of a series of hydraulic stimulations (‘fracks’) had just taken place. Felt seismicity associated with ‘fracking is extremely rare - this being only one of four instances out of many hundreds of thousands of hydraulic stimulations which have taken place (including 200+ over the last 40 years in the UK for geothermal energy, as well as hydrocarbon extraction).
Read the Extract article here

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Landslide France - December 10

Marie Tharp - Geology  - December 10
How One Woman's Discovery Shook the Foundations of Geology
Marie Tharp spent the fall of 1952 hunched over a drafting table, surrounded by charts, graphs, and jars of India ink. Nearby, spread across several additional tables, lay her project—the largest and most detailed map ever produced of a part of the world no one had ever seen.
For centuries, scientists had believed that the ocean floor was basically flat and featureless—it was too far beyond reach to know otherwise. But the advent of sonar had changed everything. For the first time, ships could “sound out” the precise depths of the ocean below them. For five years, Tharp’s colleagues at Columbia University had been crisscrossing the Atlantic, recording its depths. Women weren’t allowed on these research trips—the lab director considered them bad luck at sea—so Tharp wasn’t on board. Instead, she stayed in the lab, meticulously checking and plotting the ships’ raw findings, a mass of data so large it was printed on a 5,000-foot scroll. As she charted the measurements by hand on sheets of white linen, the floor of the ocean slowly took shape before her.
Tharp spent weeks creating a series of six parallel profiles of the Atlantic floor stretching from east to west. Her drawings showed—for the first time—exactly where the continental shelf began to rise out of the abyssal plain and where a large mountain range jutted from the ocean floor. That range had been a shock when it was discovered in the 1870s by an expedition testing routes for transatlantic telegraph cables, and it had remained the subject of speculation since; Tharp’s charting revealed its length and detail.
Read the full article here

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ONEMI Chile Earthquake preparedness - December 10
ONEMI Chile is one of the world leaders in efficient disaster preparedness information. The video below is one of their great positive clips to make people more earthquake prepared conscious


New York, disaster movies - December 10
How To Survive An Earthquake Movie
This pamphlet is designed to help you and your family plan for and survive a major earthquake movie. Nothing is guaranteed in this life, but by taking certain preparedness measures the impact of an earthquake movie can be lessened.
Remember to spend some time teaching your family what to do in the event of such a movie. You could be without help for as long as four hours, especially if the batteries in your remote die and your junk drawers contain only the "little ones," not the "real little ones" that power most television control devices.
Suspense and fright are rarely the actual cause of injury during earthquake movies. Casualties tend to result from collateral damage, such as nausea induced by relentlessly shaking cameras, derisive laughter that escalates into involuntary wind-passage blockage and, in three documented cases during the 1980s, a severe allergic reaction to purple dialogue.
ER: This is a serious article - We advise you to read it in full
Read the full article here

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Geology Oregon, USA  - December 9
Debris Flow from 2012 Failure of Moraine-Dammed Lake, Three Fingered Jack Volcano, Mount Jefferson Wilderness, Oregon
In the late spring or early summer of 2012, a flood emanated from a small moraine-dammed lake on the northeast flank of Three Fingered Jack in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness. Channel erosion or slope collapse breached the natural dam of the lake, leading to a sudden lowering of lake level by 2.8 m and discharge of 12,700 cubic meters (m3) of water. The resulting debris flow formed a bouldery deposit extending about 0.35 km downslope.
The Three Fingered Jack debris flow is one of several that have issued from moraine-dammed lakes in the Oregon Cascade Range. A thorough summary of those lakes and the hazards associated with them was published in 2001, based largely on fieldwork by Jim O’Connor and Jasper Hardison in the early 1990s. Described here are details of the 2012 event, an update to the O’Connor story begun earlier.
Read the full article here

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Fiji landslide - (December 9)
This landslide affected the water distribution of 67,000 people

Tectonics in Greece (December 9)


The Domkar Monastery Landslide by Prof. Dave Petley (landslides, Tibet - December 8)
Very interesting and extensive series of reports from this very large and spectacular landslide.

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Dave Petley highlighted the very large Domkar Monastery landslide in Tibet, which failed in a somewhat spectacular manner last month.
It is not clear to me whether this mass is loess or an old landslide body – I am still tending towards the former, but it could be the latter.  The failed body has deeply incised drainage lines on each side, but little sign of erosion or excavation at the toe.
Read the full article here

Trenches research in the Wasatch Fault, Utah (Earthquakes, USA - December 8)
A team of scientists from the USGS Geological Hazards Science Center, led by Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow Scott Bennett and Research Geologists Ryan Gold, Richard Briggs, Christopher DuRoss, and Stephen Personius are collaborating with scientists at the Utah Geological Survey to gather data from new paleoseismic trenches along the Wasatch fault zone. These new datasets will help researchers to understand if past surface-rupturing earthquakes have spanned fault segment boundaries. They are also analyzing new high-resolution airborne LiDAR topographic data to characterize previously unmapped fault traces and to measure how vertical displacements (vertical offset of the ground surface from faulting) vary, both in space (from north to south) and time (the last 20,000 years).

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Down in the Trenches - Paleoseismology
The USGS and collaborators are excavating trenches near the Salt Lake City-Provo and Provo-Nephi fault segment boundaries (yellow arrows on map below). These trenches near fault segment boundaries can provide critical information about the length and displacement of past earthquakes. These data will also allow the researchers to figure out if past earthquakes repeatedly stop at a fault segment boundary or sometimes break through.
Read the full article here

Tectonics in Greece (December 8)
Exploring sediment-tectonic interactions  picked out in the walls of the Corinth canal


A Decade of Great Earthquakes (World - December 7)



Fracking & earthquakes  (USA - December 7)
Environment Agency confirms ban on injecting waste water
The UK's environmental regulator has confirmed that fracking firms will not be allowed to re-inject waste-water from drilling into wells - potentially driving up the cost of fracking in the UK.  Speaking to Energydesk the UK's Environment Agency confirmed "the re-injection of flowback fluids at shale gas wells is not allowed." The comments came after scientists at the University of Glasgow branded current rules designed to limit tremors from fracking operations to 0.5 on the Richter scale “ridiculous”, because reinjection rather than fracking is the main cause of tremos in the US. It means shale gas firms operating in the UK may face a greater regulatory burden than conventional onshore oil and gas operations.  "There is a distinction between reinjection for conventional oil and gas activities, such as at Wytch Farm, and reinjection from unconventional activities, such as from shale gas operations," said the Environment Agency. "For conventional activities, we would allow operators to reinject produced water into the formation from which it was generated to facilitate production."
"For shale gas operations, the disposal method for flow-back fluid will be agreed between the operator, their contractors and us." Options could include on-site treatment or disposal at a waste treatment facility - but not re-injection. The move appears designed to limit the risk of earthquakes from shale gas operations which has been a source of considerable controversy.
Reinjection and the risk of earthquakes
The Glasgow study by Dr Rob Westaway and Prof Paul Younger was published in the peer reviewed Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. Its findings appear to contradict earlier studies - including a Royal Society report - that suggested that even small tremors may pose a risk to well integrity. It found the size of an earthquake caused by fracking was limited by the length of the fracture. Because fractures cannot exceed 600 metres the most significant earthquake fracking could plausibly cause would be around 3.6 on the Richter scale. This - they said - would be more significant than their proposed new threshold and could cause minor damage “such as cracks to plaster”. Their analysis of the size and probability of earthquakes in the UK is based on an assumption that regulators will not allow firms to re-inject water which comes back to the surface. Fracking involves the use of large volumes of water mixed with chemicals to open up the rock much of which returns to the surface and must be safely disposed of. “By far the biggest cause of serious seismic incidents isn’t the drilling or the fracking process itself. Instead, it’s the practice of disposing of waste water back into the borehole once the process is finished,” said Younger. A recent study published in the journal Science and reported in Scientific American found a strong link between the injection of wastewater and significant earthquakes. The study came after a pretty dramatic increase in the number of earthquakes hitting Oaklahoma in the past year and claims that injection has been linked to serious earthquakes in Italy.
Read the full article here

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Offshore Fault Where The 'Big One' Originates Eerily Quiet (Earthquakes - USA - West Coast - December 7)
Any parent of a rambunctious youngster can tell you trouble might be afoot when things go quiet in the playroom. Two independent research initiatives indicate there is a comparable situation with the Cascadia earthquake fault zone.
The fault zone expected to generate the next big one lies underwater between 40 and 80 miles offshore of the Pacific Northwest coastline. Earthquake scientists have listening posts along the coast from Vancouver Island to Northern California.
But those onshore seismometers have detected few signs of the grinding and slipping you would expect to see as one tectonic plate dives beneath another, with the exception of the junctions on the north and south ends of what is formally known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
Even With Instruments, It’s Eerily Quiet Out There
It is “a puzzle,” according to University of Oregon geophysics professor Doug Toomey.
“What is extraordinary is that all of Cascadia is quiet. It’s extraordinarily quiet when you compare it to other subduction zones globally,” Toomey said in an interview.
To make sure they’re not missing something, researchers have been using ships to drop off and later retrieve ocean bottom seismographs. These record for up to a year right on top of the fault zone.
Read the full article here

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