Category Archive 'Earthquake'

15 Nov 2016

Cows Stranded by NZ Earthquake Rescued

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Science Alert has videos.

Helicopter footage captured over the demolished farmlands outside the New Zealand town of Kaikoura has revealed the fate of three cows after Monday’s devastating magnitude 7.5 earthquake.

The three cows – including one very chill calf – managed to huddle together on a small patch of grass, as everything around them crumbled to form a tiny island.

“It was clear that the cows had slipped down on this big chunk of land,” Newshub camera operator Chris Jones explained. “The cattle had obviously ridden these islands of land, and there’s this group of cows suspended 20 feet [6 metres] in the air.”

Jones estimates that the island is between 50 and 80 metres across.

While the trio would not have lasted long stuck on such a small area of grass, their owner counts them as lucky to have found a safe place amid the chaos.

The Kaikoura farmer, who has chosen to remain anonymous, told Newshub he managed to save 14 cows in total (including these three), but did lose a few in the destruction.

“We did lose stock, there were stock losses, but the whole hillside fell during the earthquake and we had a lot of stock on there – we don’t know what we’ve got,” he said.

“It was very steep limestone bluff covered in lovely pasture a week ago and now it’s all in the gully.”

The good news is that while the cows had to stay put for a day while the safety of the area was assessed, they’ve now been rescued, and the internet can breathe a sigh of relief that our favourite cow buddies are in safe hands once again.

Complete story.

30 Aug 2011

American Spirit Defying Tragedy

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Hat tip to Vanderleun.

24 Aug 2011

5.9 Earthquake Hits Virginia

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Yesterday afternoon, when the earthquake hit, I was two steps up a rickety flight of stairs in an old warehouse in Remington, Virginia where we’re storing some of the many books we cannot fit into the charming, antique Virginia farmhouse we are currently inhabiting.

I thought someone must be opening an exceptionally violent garage door on the other side of the wall, then began guessing someone was running some piece of heavy machinery nearby in the building. The vibration stopped, and I proceeded upstairs.

I only learned that it was an earthquake when I got back to the car and turned on the radio.

WMAL, 63 AM, the station I listen to El Rushbo on, switched over to full-time broadcasting about this major news event. Sean Hannity never even came on. Instead, Conservative talk radio host Chris Plante was dragged out a pizzeria, where he had been lunching, back to the studio to cover what was essentially a non-event.

Chris and his associates interviewed all sorts of ordinary people, who testified to all of their personal earthquake experiences (typically just as interesting as mine).

My blood ran cold when Chris Plante, the conservative, proceeded in Pavlovian journalistic manner to interview a state legislator from Prince George County about “government’s response.” I would have said, in his position: “Response? What response? There was no actual damage. No injuries. There wasn’t anything anyone needed to do.” But, no. The politico happily bloviated on and on about how each and every level of government bureaucracy, all the “first responders” in particular, turned on every flashing light and siren, and spun their wheels vigorously. Our rulers, guardians, supervisors, and protectors had to justify their existence by seeming to take control, and keeping the rest of us alerted and informed, even if there was nothing in particular to alert us about, beyond potential heavy traffic resulting from government offices releasing their personnel to commute home early.

Even a conservative commentator, like Chris Plante, can be found to behave as a true product of the culture of journalism and officialdom, when push comes shove (even in the case of a minor 5.9 push), the journalist Plante goes running to Big Brother to participate in, and to cover with canine respect, the charade of official expertise gravely protecting us, the helpless public, from all perils and vissiscitudes, even in an instance where there is nothing but the empty semblance of a real event.

Bah, humbug!

Being engaged in something, kind of, sort of, resembling journalism myself, as you can see, I, too, felt obliged to cover the terrible earthquake of 2011, and here from BuzzFeed are 20 photographs of some of the worst damage.

16 Mar 2011

Josef Oehmer May Have Been a Little Too Optimistic

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There were additional hydrogen gas explosions in Units 1 and 3 and Unit 2’s containment may have been breached. (MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering – NSE)

Unit 2’s explosion damaged the suppression chamber and leaking oil caught fire and burned for two hours yesterday in Unit 4’s spent fuel pool. (NSE)

Reactor crews are preparing to re-enter after having been withdrawn yesterday due to dangerously rising levels of radiation.

A small cadre of 50 (to 70) workers out of a staff of more than 800 made world-wide news by remaining behind to carry out “last defense” measures to control the reactors. GuardianNew York Times

15 Mar 2011

More Photos of Devastation From Japan

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Waves from the tsunami pour over the shoreline and rush inland

Daily Mail

Boston Globe

14 Mar 2011

MIT Scientist: Fukushima Came Close to Meltdown, But Did Shutdown Safely

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Nuclear power plant explosion at Fukushima

CORRECTION: Yesterday’s original photograph (found at Business Insider) was actually a natural gas facility at Chiba, not the Fukushima reactor. Thanks to K for catching this.

Ignore the screaming headlines on Drudge produced by the mainstream media. Josef Oehmen, an MIT research scientist with a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering, explains that the operators of the Japanese nuclear power plant at Fukushima were very unlucky and suffered a hydrogen gas explosion. It came close to the limits of its safety design, but did actually remain within them.

I am writing this text (Mar 12) to give you some peace of mind regarding some of the troubles in Japan, that is the safety of Japan’s nuclear reactors. Up front, the situation is serious, but under control. And this text is long! But you will know more about nuclear power plants after reading it than all journalists on this planet put together.

There was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity.

By “significant” I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on – say – a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.

I have been reading every news release on the incident since the earthquake. There has not been one single (!) report that was accurate and free of errors (and part of that problem is also a weakness in the Japanese crisis communication). By “not free of errors” I do not refer to tendentious anti-nuclear journalism – that is quite normal these days. By “not free of errors” I mean blatant errors regarding physics and natural law, as well as gross misinterpretation of facts, due to an obvious lack of fundamental and basic understanding of the way nuclear reactors are build and operated. I have read a 3 page report on CNN where every single paragraph contained an error. …

At some stage during this venting, [an] explosion occurred. The explosion took place outside of the third containment ([the] “last line of defense”), and the reactor building. Remember that the reactor building has no function in keeping the radioactivity contained. It is not entirely clear yet what has happened, but this is the likely scenario: The operators decided to vent the steam from the pressure vessel not directly into the environment, but into the space between the third containment and the reactor building (to give the radioactivity in the steam more time to subside). The problem is that at the high temperatures that the core had reached at this stage, water molecules can “disassociate” into oxygen and hydrogen – an explosive mixture. And it did explode, outside the third containment, damaging the reactor building around. It was that sort of explosion, but inside the pressure vessel (because it was badly designed and not managed properly by the operators) that lead to the explosion of Chernobyl. This was never a risk at Fukushima. The problem of hydrogen-oxygen formation is one of the biggies when you design a power plant (if you are not Soviet, that is), so the reactor is build and operated in a way it cannot happen inside the containment. It happened outside, which was not intended but a possible scenario and OK, because it did not pose a risk for the containment.

So the pressure was under control, as steam was vented. Now, if you keep boiling your pot, the problem is that the water level will keep falling and falling. The core is covered by several meters of water in order to allow for some time to pass (hours, days) before it gets exposed. Once the rods start to be exposed at the top, the exposed parts will reach the critical temperature of 2200 °C after about 45 minutes. This is when the first containment, the Zircaloy tube, would fail.

And this started to happen. The cooling could not be restored before there was some (very limited, but still) damage to the casing of some of the fuel. The nuclear material itself was still intact, but the surrounding Zircaloy shell had started melting. What happened now is that some of the byproducts of the uranium decay – radioactive Cesium and Iodine – started to mix with the steam. The big problem, uranium, was still under control, because the uranium oxide rods were good until 3000 °C. It is confirmed that a very small amount of Cesium and Iodine was measured in the steam that was released into the atmosphere.

It seems this was the “go signal” for a major plan B. The small amounts of Cesium that were measured told the operators that the first containment on one of the rods somewhere was about to give. The Plan A had been to restore one of the regular cooling systems to the core. Why that failed is unclear. One plausible explanation is that the tsunami also took away / polluted all the clean water needed for the regular cooling systems.

The water used in the cooling system is very clean, demineralized (like distilled) water. The reason to use pure water is the above mentioned activation by the neutrons from the Uranium: Pure water does not get activated much, so stays practically radioactive-free. Dirt or salt in the water will absorb the neutrons quicker, becoming more radioactive. This has no effect whatsoever on the core – it does not care what it is cooled by. But it makes life more difficult for the operators and mechanics when they have to deal with activated (i.e. slightly radioactive) water.

But Plan A had failed – cooling systems down or additional clean water unavailable – so Plan B came into effect. This is what it looks like happened:

In order to prevent a core meltdown, the operators started to use sea water to cool the core. I am not quite sure if they flooded our pressure cooker with it (the second containment), or if they flooded the third containment, immersing the pressure cooker. But that is not relevant for us.

The point is that the nuclear fuel has now been cooled down. Because the chain reaction has been stopped a long time ago, there is only very little residual heat being produced now. The large amount of cooling water that has been used is sufficient to take up that heat. Because it is a lot of water, the core does not produce sufficient heat any more to produce any significant pressure. Also, boric acid has been added to the seawater. Boric acid is “liquid control rod”. Whatever decay is still going on, the Boron will capture the neutrons and further speed up the cooling down of the core.

The plant came close to a core meltdown. …

The plant is safe now and will stay safe.

Japan is looking at an INES Level 4 Accident: Nuclear accident with local consequences. That is bad for the company that owns the plant, but not for anyone else.

Some radiation was released when the pressure vessel was vented. All radioactive isotopes from the activated steam have gone (decayed). A very small amount of Cesium was released, as well as Iodine. If you were sitting on top of the plants’ chimney when they were venting, you should probably give up smoking to return to your former life expectancy. The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea and will never be seen again.

There was some limited damage to the first containment. That means that some amounts of radioactive Cesium and Iodine will also be released into the cooling water, but no Uranium or other nasty stuff (the Uranium oxide does not “dissolve” in the water). There are facilities for treating the cooling water inside the third containment. The radioactive Cesium and Iodine will be removed there and eventually stored as radioactive waste in terminal storage.

The seawater used as cooling water will be activated to some degree. Because the control rods are fully inserted, the Uranium chain reaction is not happening. That means the “main” nuclear reaction is not happening, thus not contributing to the activation. The intermediate radioactive materials (Cesium and Iodine) are also almost gone at this stage, because the Uranium decay was stopped a long time ago. This further reduces the activation. The bottom line is that there will be some low level of activation of the seawater, which will also be removed by the treatment facilities.

The seawater will then be replaced over time with the “normal” cooling water.

The reactor core will then be dismantled and transported to a processing facility, just like during a regular fuel change.

Fuel rods and the entire plant will be checked for potential damage. This will take about 4-5 years.

The safety systems on all Japanese plants will be upgraded to withstand a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami (or worse).

Read the whole thing.

The Explosion:

14 Mar 2011

Japan: Before & After

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Selections of remarkable high resolution photographs of Japanese locations taken by satellites operated by Google-partner GeoEye illustrating the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami are offered by the New York Times,

The Washington Post,

and ABC News.

11 Mar 2011

Latest Problem Attributable to Global Warming

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The Japanese earthquake and consequent tsunami!

Christopher Mims has the word from prominent druids and witchdoctors experts.

So far, today’s tsunami has mainly affected Japan — there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai — but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity.

“When the ice is lost, the earth’s crust bounces back up again and that triggers earthquakes, which trigger submarine landslides, which cause tsunamis,” Bill McGuire, professor at University College London, told Reuters.

Melting ice masses change the pressures on the underlying earth, which can lead to earthquakes and tsunamis, but that’s just the beginning. Rising seas also change the balance of mass across earth’s surface, putting new strain on old earthquake faults, and may have been partly to blame for the devastating 2004 tsunami that struck Southeast Asia, according to experts from the China Meteorological Administration.

Even a simple change in the weather can dramatically affect the earth beneath our feet.

I thought I had a new one for Warmlist, but “earthquakes” was already on the list, from as far back as 2004 citing NASA no less.

The problem with the application of the glaciers-melting-and-lightening-the-load-so-up-pops-the-tectonic-plate theory in this case is that no melting glaciers are located on the ocean bed of the Pacific east of Honshu, Japan.

15 Jan 2010

Haiti: Our Fault!

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Bill Quigley, at Huffington Post, says US actions “magnified the harm” caused by the earthquake in Haiti.

How’d we do that?

Well, as a rebellion was advancing on Haiti’s capital in 2004, the United States evacuated Jean-Bertrand Aristide to safety. (He later accused the United States of kidnapping him.) Relations between Aristide, the US, Canada, and Europe had been frosty since he gained power for the second time in 2000 via flagrant election fraud. Mr. Quigley obviously takes the view that stealing elections makes the winner “democratically elected.” (Hey! It works in Chicago.)

And he proceeds to attribute responsibility to the US for Haiti’s current woes, because the failure of the International Community and the Bush Administration to deliver financial support to a hostile socialist kleptocracy is obviously to blame for a shrunken public sector in Haiti.


Danny Glover reaches even further: “When we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I’m sayin’?”

2:20 video

Hat tip to Tim Blair.

No money for socialist regimes, no money for Gaia, you get earthquakes. Stands to reason, if you’re a leftist.

04 Feb 2007

Seismologists Detected Possible Major Earthquake – Tremors Have Since Stopped


The Globe and Mail reported yesterday:

VANCOUVER — Scientists have alerted British Columbia’s emergency-planning department to the possibility of a catastrophic earthquake striking the province’s southwest coast next week.

While the probability of a quake is still low, rapid strides in earthquake detection have given federal scientists with the Pacific Geoscience Centre on Vancouver Island greater confidence in their ability to predict when and where one will occur. Garry Rogers, a seismologist at the centre, compared the current earthquake odds to the dangers of driving a car.

“Everyone drives their car every day, and the probability of getting in a car accident is small,” Dr. Rogers said. But during rush hour, the probability of getting into an accident is much higher. “Well, Vancouver Island is now driving in rush hour.”

What prompted the alert was a series of imperceptible tremors emanating from deep beneath the ocean, which scientists now recognize as ominous warnings that the earth is on the move again off Vancouver Island.

They now estimate the long-awaited giant quake will hit closer to the island’s western shoreline than previously thought.

The tremors occurred on what is known as the Cascadia subduction zone, which lies beneath the Pacific Ocean off the West Coast and runs from Vancouver Island to Northern California. The rumblings began last week near Puget Sound near Seattle and made their way north to Vancouver Island in recent days.

The tremors — known in earthquake-speak as an episodic tremor and slip — monitor the ongoing strain between the solid earth on the West Coast and the offshore Juan de Fuca Plate.

As of Sunday morning, the Pacific Geoscience Centre reported that “the current Episodic Tremor and Slip event appears to have stopped. There has been no significant tremor activity on southern Vancouver Island during the past 24 hours.

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