Tony Smith's HomePage
Weather is not only influenced by the Sun, but also by
Sunlight (and sometimes moonlight)interacting with raindrops makes Rainbows,such as shown in thisphoto by BobFay:
Sunlight interacting with atmosphericice crystals makes Sun Dogs, such as shown in thisphoto taken on 21 December2000 by Jeff Storjohann of the Carroll(Iowa) Daily Times Herald and sent to me by ElmerSchettler:
According to GoddardPress Release No. 00-50 dated 9 May 2000,
According to the latest spacecraft and ocean buoy observations,the La Nina has disappeared entirely in the eastern Pacific Ocean andis rapidly disappearing over the rest of the Pacific. "The currentlack of cold water support below the surface means that this La Ninawill have a difficult time sustaining itself for much longer",according to David Adamec, a research oceanographer at GoddardSpace Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "As expected, the La Ninareached a maximum in intensity during January 2000 and has beenwaning ever since." The spacecraft data have also shown that sinceMarch, La Nina's cold surface water is being replaced by water thatis now 4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal off the coast of SouthAmerica. The current longevity of this "warm water patch" is nowbeginning to affect the atmosphere by weakening the trade windsthere. These weakened winds are also very unfavorable for thepersistence of La Nina conditions. ... Anomalous behavior of thetropical Pacific Ocean has been affecting weather patterns in theU.S. for the past three years. During the springof 1997 ... the strongest El Nino ... Suddenly during Mayof 1998, the warm waters of El Nino were replaced by the coldwater phenomenon known as La Nina which has persisted till now....".
However, according to ENSODiagonistic Advisory 2000/5 issued May 10, 2000, "... Thelarge-scale oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns
conditions in the tropical Pacific during April. Consistent coldepisode-related oceanic features include: below normal SSTs (negativeanomalies greater than -1°C) in the western and central Pacific (Fig.1),
and above- (below-) normal subsurface temperatures in the western(eastern) equatorial Pacific (Fig. 2).
... Despite the persistence of many cold-episode related features,SST anomalies have been increasing during recent weeks ... This localwarming of the SSTs is likely to be short-lived, as the large-scalesubsurface thermal structure does not favor the development of a warmepisode at this time. ... it is likely that cold episode conditionswill gradually weaken over the next 6 months and that near-normal orslightly cooler than normal conditions will be present in thetropical Pacific at the end of the year. ...".
According to a 27May 1999 web article on the JPLEl Nino web pages: "... New sea surface height measurements fromthe TOPEX/Poseidon satellite show that the sea level and temperatureof the entire Pacific is "out of balance," ... according tooceanographer Dr. William Patzert of JPL. "Our data certainly showthat the unusual oceanic climatic conditions that gave rise to ElNiño and La Niña are not returning to a normal state.... Our planet's climate system continues to exhibit rather wildbehavior.
These large warm and cold, high and low sea levels areslow-developing and long-lasting ... ". The unusually cool water(areas of lower sea level shown in blue and purple) extends from theGulf of Alaska along the North American coast, sweepingsouth-westward from Baja California, where it merges with theremnants of La Niña. The La Niña phenomenon's cool,lower sea levels across the equator continue to weaken and break into(purple) patches. ... Areas where the Pacific Ocean is "normal"appear in green. ... In this image, the purple areas are about 18centimeters (7 inches) below normal, creating a deficit in the heatsupply to the surface waters. The white areas show the sea surface isbetween 14 and 32 centimeters (6 to 13 inches) above normal; in thered areas, it's about 10 centimeters (4 inches) above normal. Formore information, please visit the TOPEX/Poseidonproject web page ...".
according to the 8 June 1998 web page ScienceNOW,which states: "... Vice President Al Gore and scientists from theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced at ameeting here this morning that each of the first 5 months of the year"far exceed" previous global temperature records. Although El Ninohas been waning in the last few weeks, scientists say the increase sofar is large enough that 1998 is a very good bet to surpass 1997, thecurrent record holder (Science, 16 January, page 315). ... Atemperature increase itself is not a surprise: ElNino is defined by warming in the tropical Pacific, whichtypically fuels a rise in global temperatures a few months later. Butthis year's increase has been larger than expected. Based onmeasurements from weather stations, satellites, ocean ships, andbuoys, NOAA researchers calculated that combined land and oceantemperatures are 0.25 degrees Celsius warmer than any previousrecorded January-through-May period. Although 5 months is too briefto be meaningful on its own, climate researchers say that the jumpsare well outside the 0.05 degree standard deviation on globalaverages. That should be enough to make this year the hottest of themillennium, says climatologist Philip Jones of the University of EastAnglia in Norwich, England. Studies of tree rings and other indirectmeasures of temperature have suggested that the last decade has beenthe hottest in at least the last 600 years--and likely the hottest ofthe last 1000. With El Nino cooling off, he says, 1999 and 2000should be slightly cooler. ..." However, I wonder whether ElNino will actually cool off that much.
CNNreports that, according to Ted Scambos of CU-Boulder and NOAA,asection about 40 kilometers long and five kilometers wide broke offthe Larsen B Ice Shelf in February and March 1998. The rate ofAntarctic warming is several times that of the global average and"The warming trend appears to be related to areduction in sea ice. The question now is what is causing thereduction. At this point we do not have enough evidence to find asmoking gun." Since snow and ice reflect more sunlight than seawater, and sea water absorbs more sunlight than snow and ice, themore the ice melts the faster the warming trend.
Scherer, Aldahan, Tulaczyk, Engelhardt, and Kamb, in Science,281 (3 July 1998) 82-85, report paleontologic and geochemicaldata derived from sediments recovered from beneath the West Antarcticice sheet (WAIS) that imply that open marine conditions existed inthe southern part of the Ross sector of West Antarctica during thelate Pleistocene, and thus that the WAIS has at least partiallycollapsed at least once since the late Miocene. The WAIS is theworld's only large ice sheet that is grounded well below sea level atits margins, making it susceptible to collapse. Collapse of the WAISwould result in a rise in eustatic sea level of 5 to 6 m. A sea levelhigher than at present during the penultimate interglacial[marine oxygen isotope stage 5e (MIS 5e)], 123,000 years ago(ka), has been cited as evidence of past WAIS collapse. The SouthernOcean was warmer than at present during certain late Quaternaryintervals. Most notable of these warm periods, and the most likelycandidate for the time of WAIS collapse, is MIS 11, which occurredabout 400,000 years ago. This interglacial was of unusually longduration and was characterized by biogenic carbonate deposition inthe high-latitude Southern Ocean and unusually deep southerlypenetration of North Atlantic deep water. WAIS retreat during one ormore earlier or subsequent interglacials, including MIS 5e, orcollapse out of phase with the climate cycle cannot be ruled out.Given the remaining uncertainties regarding ice sheet mechanics andclimatic forcing, it is not yet possible to predict the probabilityof WAIS collapse within the coming centuries.
The 1997 El Nino coincided with the volcaniceruption of Soufriere.
The 1982 El Nino coincided with the volcaniceruption of El Chicon.
According to C.Claiborne Ray's article in the New York Times of 28April 1998, in 1993 the largest known cluster of volcanoes, coveringan area the size of New York State was discovered. It is 600 milesnorthwest of Easter Island, and has 1,133 seamounts and volcanoes,far more than any other area then known on dry land or under theocean. In 1995, scientists reported that a spate of undersea quakesand lava eruptions had preceded the onset of the El Nino cycle thenin effect. Dr. Daniel A. Walker, a geophysicist at the University ofHawaii, said that the seismic activity was the most unusual it hadbeen in 30 years and tentatively linked it to El Nino.
In January 2002, according to 18, 19,21, and 24 January 2002 articles in theBBC: "...
... MountNyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo ... is located inpart of the East African Rift Valley system... [Here is a] ... Nasa satellite image
five hours after the [January 2002] eruption began ... asmany as 650,000 people [have been] made homeless by theeruption of Mount Nyiragongo. A 50-metre wide stream of molten lavais still flowing through Goma, which lies 10 kilometres (six miles)from the volcano, destroying everything in its path and killing atleast 45 people. ... Mount Nyiragongo ... was last active in 1994,when a lava lake reappeared in its summit crater ... The latesteruption is more serious. Lava from Nyiragongo can travel at 60kilometres per hour and there are concerns that lava reaching anearby lake could ... react with gas in the lake, with catastrophicconsequences ... in 1986, Lake Nyos in Cameroon released a cloud ofgas, which killed more than 1,700 people ...
... There are reports of a second volcano erupting in easternDemocratic Republic of Congo. The volcano on MountNyamuragira sent molten lava flowing into Virunga national park,but there are no reports of casualties. Since Nyiragongo erupted lastweek destroying much of Goma, powerful earth tremors have beenaggravating relief work and have destroyed more than 1,500 houses andseveral schools just across the border in Rwanda. ... Seismologistshave confirmed that some of the disturbances that have shaken theGoma area over the past week have registered up to five on theRichter scale and can be defined as small earthquakes. ...vulcanologists have warned that eruptions could spread along the RiftValley which straddles Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, where there aredormant volcanoes. ... recent studies had shown evidence of volcanicactivity suggested a serious threat to the entire region. ... thevolcanic eruptions in DR Congo could potentially stir magma lyingsome five to 10 kilometres below the RiftValley surface in East Africa, where there are "volcanicactivities". ... ".
In December 2000, according to 20 December2000 articles in theBBC: "... a major eruption on the Popocatepetl volcano ...
... located just 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Mexico City, sentshowers of red-hot rocks hundreds of feet into the night sky inseveral huge explosions. ...". According to the VolcanoWorld website, "... The 18 December  eruption hasbeen reported to be the largest eruption of Popocateptl in athousand years. ...".
In March 2000, David Whitehouse wrote aBBC articledescribing steam rings
being blown by Mt.Etna. Mt.Etna had Strombolian explosions and lava flows in July 1997, andexperienced a swarmof earthquakes on 10 January 1998. Two earthquakes shook Mt. Etnaon July 22, 1998, causing increased activity at the volcano.Following these quakes, lava began to flow down Etna's slopes, andsteam and ash rose six miles (~9.5 km) into the air. About a quarterof an inch of ash from this event fell on Catania's airport, forcingits closure late Wednesday. Some scientists believe this activity isa precursor to a larger future eruption of Etna. Activity hascontinued through October 11, 1998.
In February 2000, MayonVolcano, Philippines, erupted, as shown in this image from theBBC:
According to the VolcanoWorld website, "... On 28 February, the Mayon Volcano had twopowerful eruptions. ... The alert level has been raised to themaximum level of five. At least 30,000 people have fled the area. ...On 24 February, the Mayon Volcano erupted and sent superheated ashinto the air. The ash rained as far as seven miles away.... ThePhilippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said fourteenexplosions were recorded by late afternoon. The strongest sent ash 41/2 miles into the air and darkened the sky in some villages. ...Officials warned that a more violent explosion could occur at anytime. ...".
On December 1, 1998, Popocatepetlerupted. An ash plume reached 6 miles (10 km) into the air.Authorities were preparing for the possible evacuation of villageswithin a 10 mile (16 km) radius of the volcano. Continued explosionscould loosen snow on the top of Popocatepetl, causing avalanches andmudslides. Popocatepetlhad its largest eruption since 1925 on 30 June 1997, sending ash 7.5miles high.
On 21September 1997 a huge lava dome of Soufriereon Montserrat collapsed and explosions from the volcano senteruption columns to 40,000 feet. The lava dome collapse producedrivers of hot rock and gas (pyroclastic flows) which overran theisland's airport and several villages on the eastern side of theisland. Subsequent explosions of Soufriere,continuing into October 1997, sent ash clouds to heights of 20,000 to25,000 feet (6,000-7,500 m). On 26 December 1997, a lava domecollapse . On 26 February 1998, Montserrat was in the path of aTotal Solar Eclipse. On 3 July 1998,Montserrat erupted again, sending ash to an altitude of 45,000feet.
Krakatau,which erupted violently in 1883, remains active in 1997.
Kiluaeacontinues to erupt lava flows.
The 1997-98 El Nino is the largest onrecord.
1991: MountPinatubo on the island of Luzon (15.0N, 120.0E) eruptedcatastrophically in June 1991 after over 600 years of inactivity. TheBlizzard of 1993 occurred two years later.Global stratospheric aerosol mass from the eruption was monitored bySAGEII.
According to SAGE II: "...global aerosol mass reached a peak near 30 megatons after the Pinatubo eruption and started to decline (with an e-folding time of approximately 1 year) by mid-1992 as significant numbers of particles began to sediment into the troposphere. By mid-1993, global mass had fallen to about 12 megatons, which was the peak value observed following the 1982 eruption of the Mexican volcano El Chichon. Barring another major eruption, it [was] anticipated that the pre-Pinatubo level (less than 1 megaton) [would] be reached by late 1995 or early 1996." UCSB has some links to more web sites about the Pinatubo eruption.
1982: The ElChichon caldera was formed during the very explosive El Chichoneruptions of 1982, and is a few hundred meters deep by about akilometer wide. 10 to 20 million tons of aerosols were put into thestratosphere. 1982 was also the year of a large ElNino.
1963: Agung erupted in 1963. 10 to 20 million tons of aerosolswere put into the stratosphere.
1883: The eruption and collapse of the caldera of Krakatauin 1883 produced one of the largest explosions on Earth in recordedtime (VEI=6) and destroyed much of Krakatau island, leaving only aremnant. 50 million tons of aerosols were put into thestratosphere.
1815: The 1815 eruption of Tamborawas the largest explosive eruption in recent historic time. About 150cubic kilometers of ash were erupted (about 150 times more than the1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens). 200 million tons of aerosols wereput into the stratosphere. The 1815 eruption of Tambora caused the"Year without a Summer". Daily minimum temperatures were abnormallylow in the northern hemisphere from late spring to early autumn.Famine was widespread because of crop failures.
1783: In June 1783, Laki in Iceland began to erupt. There wasinitially a violent eruption with enormous lava fountains, followedby lava flows of fissure basalt lasting into 1784. About 12 cubickilometers of magma came from this flow. Perhaps 100 million tons ofaerosols were put into the stratosphere. 75 percent of the livestockof Iceland died, as did 24 percent of the people.
536: In March of 536, perhaps at Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, ahuge eruption occurred whose effects were observed in China, theMiddle East, and Europe. Perhaps 300 million tons of aerosols wereput into the stratosphere. A severe plauge epidemic hit Africa,Europe and Asia from 541 to 544, killing 20 to 25 percent of thepopulation.
1650 BC: The eruptionof Santorini in Greece in 1,650 B.C. was one of the largest inthe last 10,000 years. About 7 cubic miles (30 cubic km) ofrhyodacite magma was erupted. The plinian column during the initialphase of the eruption was about 23 miles (36 km) high. The removal ofsuch a large volume of magma caused the volcano to collapse,producing a caldera. Ash fell over a large area in the easternMediterranean and Turkey. The eruption probably caused the end of theMinoan civilization on the island of Crete.
71,000-74,000 years ago: Toba, in Sumatra,erupted explosively about 71,000 to 74,000 years ago. Perhaps 1,000million tons of aerosols were put into the stratosphere. According toaDiscover article:
"... Mount Toba in Sumatra blew 800 cubic kilometers of ash into the air--4,000 times as much as Mount St. Helens--the largest volcanic eruption in more than 400 million years. Toba buried most of India under ash and must have darkened skies over a third of the hemisphere for weeks. ... a six-year global volcanic winter ensued, caused by light-reflecting sulfur particles lingering in the atmosphere. Average summer temperatures dropped by 21 degrees at high latitudes, and 75 percent of the Northern Hemisphere's plants may have died. ... A thousand-year ice age began ... caused perhaps by an increasing amount of snow that failed to melt over the summer. This snow cover would have reflected more sunlight off Earth's surface, making the world still colder. The effect on humans, who had been enjoying a relatively warm period, must have been devastating. ... Perhaps only a few thousand people ... survived. ... Some anthropologists believe that ...[human]... genetic homogeneity is the result of a "population bottleneck"--that at some time in the past our ancestors went through an event that greatly reduced our numbers and thus our genetic variation. Based on estimates of mutation rates, Penn State geneticist Henry Harpending says the bottleneck happened sometime after ... 100,000 years ago and before a population increase ... around 50,000 years ago. ...".
120,000 years ago: According to anarticle by Tristan Marshall in the 7 October 2000 New Scientist:"... a volcano ... on El Hierro in the Canary Islands ... rising atleast 1500 metres above sea level tore itself apart. A huge chunk ofthe north-west side of the island plunged onto the sea floor,breaking up as it fell. What remains behind is a bay 15 kilometresacross, whose gently sloping floor is backed by a breathtakingsemicircular escarpment more than a kilometre high. ... in 1997evidence emerged of giant waves dating from around this time on theopposite side of the Atlantic--in the Bahamas. ... unusual bouldersperched 20 metres above sea level on the island of Eleuthera in theBahamas ... were huge--each weighing up to 2000 tonnes. They alsorested directly on rocks that were much younger. How had the bouldersgot there? ... giant waves were the only plausible mechanism. ...Paul ... Hearty and ... Conrad Neumann ... also identified a seriesof chevron ridges up to 10 kilometres across on Eleuthera andneighbouring islands ... A tsunami between 40 and 50 metres highwould account for both the transport of the boulders on Eleuthera andthe chevron ridges ... Simon Day ... has discovered that a hugechunk of La Palma, the most volcanically active island in theCanaries, is now unstable. ...".
According to a 4 October 2000 article on the BBC website (fromwhich the above image is taken): "... one flank of the Cumbre Viejavolcano on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries archipelago, isunstable and could plunge into the ocean. ... Swiss researchers whohave modelled the landslide say half a trillion tonnes of rockfalling into the water all at once would create a wave 650 metreshigh (2,130 feet) that would spread out and travel across theAtlantic ... It would have a wavelength of 30 to 40 kilometres (18 to25 miles) travelling westwards across the Atlantic at speeds up to720 km/h (450 mph) towards America. ... The wall of water wouldweaken as it crossed the ocean, but would still be 40-50 metres(130-160 feet) high by the time it hit land. The surge would createhavoc in North America as much as 20 kilometres (12 miles) inland....".
600,000 years ago: "...At ... [the] youngest caldera, Lava Creek, ...[in]...Yellowstone in the US, 1000 cubic kilometres of ash and pumice spewedout 600,000 years ago ...".
1,300,000 years ago: "...The second great [Yellowstone] explosion formed the IslandPark caldera 1.3 million years ago. This caldera ...[is]...the smallest of the three ...".
2 million years ago: "...At ... [the] first and largest ... caldera, ... HuckleberryRidge ...[in]...Yellowstone in the US ... 2500 cubickilometres were vented two million years ago ... the earth has seldomin its long history experienced caldera explosions on the scale ofthose that created Yellowstone ...[for example]... Ash fromTambora drifted downwind more than 800 miles; [while]Yellowstone ash is found in Ventura, California to the west and theIowa to the east....".
14 million years ago: The Roza basaltic flow erupted in theColumbia River Basalt Group 14 million years ago. About 700 cubickilometers of magma came from this flow. Perhaps 6,000 million tonsof aerosols were put into the stratosphere.
65 million years ago: The Deccanbasaltic flow erupted in India about 65 million years ago. About2,000 cubic kilometers of magma came from this flow. Since India wasthen south of its present position, the Deccan basalt traps of Indiawere then antipodal to theChicxulub impact on the Yucutan Peninsula.
200 million years ago: Pangaea began to be split up by massivelava flows in the Central Atlantic Magmatic Provice, which includesthe Hudson River Palisades, the Amazon Basin, and parts of Spain andWest Africa.
According to an AP article in The New York Times of 27 April 1999: "... The massive eruptions 200 million years ago tore apart the ancient continent of Pangea and may have caused a mass extinction of animals, the researchers reported in the current issue of the journal Science. Remnants of this event include the new Brazilian find as well as other formations in South America, West Africa, Spain and North America, among them the towering palisades along the Hudson River. The previously unrecognized area of ancient lava flow covers about 965,000 square miles in the Amazon basin. An analysis of the newly found rocks showed that the eruption occurred at the same time and had the same origin as lava flows found on the other continents, said Dr. Paul R. Renne of the University of California at Berkeley. A mass extinction at the same time seems to have been connected to the huge magma flow, he added. ... The great eruption, which occurred over a few million years, split apart Pangea, opening up what is now the Atlantic Ocean, the scientists said. The lava field it produced has been named the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. With the addition of the Brazilian formation, it totals some 2.7 million square miles. ... The next-largest known lava flows are the Deccan Traps in India and the Siberian Traps, each just under half the size of the Central Atlantic lava field. ...".
250 million years ago: The Siberian Traps basaltic flow beganabout the time of a comet impactand the Permian-Triassic extinction, also around the time thatthe Siberian Plate collided with Laurentia (Europe and North America)forming the Ural Mountains.
500 to 250 million years ago, the AppalachianMountains formed. Associated with the Appalachians was volcanicactivity, including that at the Pivot Pointof the Cartersville Fault.
Understanding the Earth, ed. by Brown, Hawkesworth, and Wilson,Cambridge 1992.
The Historical Atlas of the Earth, by Stephen Jay Gould, RogerOsborne, and Donald Tarling, Henry Holt and Company 1996.
According to aUSGS web page there was a "... Magnitude 8.9 ...[quake on theFull Moon of ]... Sunday, December 26, 2004 at 00:58:50 (UTC)...
... OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA ... Many people killedby tsunamis in Sri Lanka and Thailand. Tsunamis also observed on thecoasts of Maldives, Cocos Island and Sumatra. Felt widely in northernSumatra. Also felt in Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singaporeand Thailand. This is the fifth largest earthquake in the worldsince 1900 and is the largest since the 1964 Prince William Sound,Alaska earthquake. ...".
Although 2 days after the preceding New Moon of 12 December 2004there was, according to aUSGS web page, "... magnitude 6.8 event ...
... in the CAYMAN ISLANDS REGION ...",
near the following New Moon of 10 January 2005 there was no largequake of Magnitude 7 or greater, despite the prediction of JimBerkland's syzygyjob.org web page "... with 85% confidence, forthe Super Seismic Window of January 08-15, 2005 ... Globally, ... oneor more major quakes of 7.0-9.0M. ...", no such major quakesoccurred. Instead of a single large quake antipodal to Sumatra, thattime period had a two-loop pattern
of quakes of magnitude 5 to 7.
One day after the following Full Moon of 25 January 2005,according to aUSGS web page, ".... A ... swarm ... of earthquakes ... recentlyoccurred beneath the Andaman Sea east of the Nicobar Islands,starting 26 January 2005. The earthquake activity is in a broad sensepart of the aftershock sequence associated with the greatSumatra-Andaman Islands earthquake of 26 December 2004 ... The swarmactivity that began on 26 January nonetheless represents a dramaticburst of seismic activity within the aftershock sequence followingthe great 26 December main shock ...".
Near the second following New Moon of 8 February 2005 ( ChineseNew Year of the Wood Chicken ), on 5February 2005, according to aUSGS web page, there was a "... The magnitude 7.1 event ...
... located in the CELEBES SEA. ...".
According to aUSGS web page there was a "... Magnitude 4.9 ... earthquake... Depth 15.0 kilometers ... Location ... 15 km (10 miles) NE ofFort Payne, Alabama ... 55 km (35 miles) NW of Rome, Georgia ...Tuesday, April 29, 2003 at 04:59:38 AM (EDT) ...[ 2 daysbefore the New Moon of 1 May 2003. It shook my house in Cartersville,Georgia, and was the first earthquake I have ever experienced.]... Cracked foundations and bricks fallen from chimneys werereported at Fort Payne. The water system at Valley Head also reportedmuddy water. ...[Prior to this earthquake, the]... largestrecorded earthquake in this seismic zone ...[had been]... amagnitude 4.6 that occurred in 1973 near Knoxville. ... The EasternTennessee seismic zone, which extends from south west Virginia tonorth east Alabama ...
... is one of the most active earthquake areas in the Southeast....
...[ The following image, adapted from aUSGS web page,
shows a thin green strip that bisects a larger yellow area that isthe Cumberland Plateau and related plateau/mountain areas. BelowChattanooga, the Tennessee River flows through the thin green strip,which is a rift valley splitting the Cumberland Plateau from relatedhigh ground to the southeast. The little red dots are earthquakessince 1990 at depth 33 km or less. The little magenta dots areearthquakes since 1990 deeper than 33 km, and they tend to be in theSmoky Mountains, further east from the rift valley than the shallowerearthquakes. Acording to asoutheast Tennessee web page: "... Southeast Tennessee'sSequatchie Valley is one of the most unique valleys in the world. Oneof only two "rift valleys," the other being theGreat Victoria Valley in Africa, [ I notethat there may be more than those two - consider, for example,Iceland being rifted by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. ] theSequatchie Valley was formed by giant shears as the plateau literallysplit apart ...".]...
... Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although lessfrequent, are typically felt over a much broader region than thewestern U.S. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt in anarea as much as ten times greater than a similar magnitude earthquakeon the west coast. ... in the eastern Tennessee seismic zone therelation between faults and earthquakes is ... enigmatic. The EasternU.S. is far from the plate boundaries, the nearest of which are inthe center of the Atlantic Ocean and in the Caribbean Sea. No activefaults are known to reach the surface in the region, although thearea is laced with ancient faults that developed as the AppalachianMountains formed several hundred million years ago. ...".
0316 GMT (0846 local time) 26January 2001 (just after the end of theYear of the Metal Dragon), a 7.7 Earthquake hit Indiaat the mouth of the (now mostly dry)Saraswati River. According to the BBC:"... Only about 18 quakes of this strength occur each year. It was arare large quake in a region that is frequently shaken by smallerones. The last comparable quake in the region occurred on 16 June,1819, killing 2,000 people. That quake was estimated to be aboutmagnitude 7.7 on the impulse scale, slightly less than the currentquake. ... [ The current quake ] was a relatively shallow onethat delivered much destructive energy to the surface. ... With morethan 6,000 confirmed dead and authorities saying the figure couldreach 20,000, rescue workers are mostly finding bodies under thepiles of concrete and masonry. ...
... Millions of Hindu pilgrims attending the KumbhMela festival in India's eastern state of Uttar Pradesh felt theground sway beneath them, but there was no panic. ...". The MahaKumbh Mela (held every 144 years) was held at the confluence ofthe Ganga, Yamuna, and SaraswatiRivers near Allahabad, India ( green doton map ). The Saraswati River is nowmostly dry, but until about 6,000 years ago it was a major part ofthe drainage system of the Indian subcontinent. Perhaps the 2001Earthquake indicated that Garuda was still visiting the Saraswati(the region with principal god Indra)as well as the Ganges (the region with principal gods Shivaand Ganesha).
... The earthquake shook buildings in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where residents fled outdoors. Similar scenes were also reported in other cities in northern areas of Pakistan and India, where the tremors were felt. ...".
1747 GMT 20 September 1999 (near the endof Yom Kippur 5760), on21 September 1999 local time, a 7.6 Earthquake hit Taiwan. Accordingto the BBC:"... The earthquake which ... killed more than 1,000 people incentral Taiwan ... was unusual ... Normally, quakes in the regionoccur hundreds of kilometres out to sea, far away from urbanpopulations. But this tremor, which measured about 7.6 on the Richterscale, struck inland, close to the central city of Taichung.
It was also very near the Earth's surface. ... "It looks as ifthis one was peculiar in some way," said Dr Chris Browitt from theBritish Geological Survey in Edinburgh. "It looks as like it was muchshallower than usual and in a different area." This was confirmed byreporters on the ground. "This quake happened in the mountains on thewestern side of the island," said Diane Baker of the Taipei Times."The big cities of Taipei and Taichung are unprotected for somethinglike this." Recently history shows there have been earthquakes aroundmagnitude 7.5 in the region more than once a decade for the lastthree decades. The last tremor on this scale to hit the island was on14 November, 1986. But again, this occurred under the ocean and theresulting death toll was restricted to just 15. "You've got toremember that a magnitude 7.5 earthquake will occur maybe four timesa year somewhere in the world. ..." Tremors can occur as deep as 700km. As recently as 1993, Taiwan experienced a quake that was over 150km down. But this latest quake was probably no more than a fewkilometres below the surface. The destructive power of an earthquakecomes from the momentum gathered when two opposing "faults" or platesof rock, which may have been locked together for decades, suddenlymove apart. The result is that solid rock which normally moves onlywith the passing of geological ages accelerates briefly to 5,000mph,unleashing huge quantities of energy and creating a shaking movementof up to a metre a second. Taiwan sits is a very active seismologicalregion where the relatively small Philippine plate is slowly grindinginto the very large Eurasian plate. To the north of the island, thePhilippine plate is being forced under the Eurasian plate mass - whatseismologists call a subduction zone - whereas to the south, theopposite is happening. Of concern to local people will be the dangerthat comes from aftershocks, ... "Back in 1935 there was a magnitude7.1 which killed over 3,000 people in the west of Taiwan and it hadan aftershock about three months later which killed just under 3,000people." ".
On Sunday, 26 September 1999, according to the BBC:"Taiwan suffered a major aftershock ... that killed at least threepeople and injured 58 others, destroyed buildings and roads alreadyweakened from last week's devastating earthquake, and sent thousandsof horrified residents scurrying for safety. The aftershock, whichmeasured 6.8, hit at 7:52 a.m. and was centered about 6 miles east ofSun Moon Lake in Nantou county. This mountainous region in the middleof the island was the epicenter of last week's 7.6-magnitude quake,which killed more than 2,000 people. Local radio and televisionreports from Taiwan said the 10-second aftershock set off numerouslandslides across the country. ... More than 100,000 people remainhomeless, and many cities, including parts of the capital, arewithout electricity, as the earthquake and its aftershocks causedsevere damage to power generating plants and substations.... Morethan 7,300 aftershocks have hit Taiwan since last Tuesday'searthquake, an average of almost one a minute. Eight of the joltsmeasured six or above and have been classified as major quakes intheir own right. Officials of Taiwan's Seismology Center said theyexpected aftershocks to continue for several months and that furtherquakes of 6.8 magnitude are possible. Taiwan straddles a major faultline on the western edge of the Pacific "rim of fire" and has dozensof tremors each year. ...".
17 August 1999, 6 days aftera Total Eclipse of the Sun, a 7.4Earthquake hit Turkey (one of the NATOcountries heavily involved in the Kosovo conflictct), killingtens of thousands of people. This image is from the BBC:
There were associated tsunamis. According to a Washington PostForeign Service article by Lee Hockstader: "... BURSA, Turkey, Aug.22&emdash;It was just past 3 a.m. last Tuesday [17 August1999] when Yuksel Er shuffled from his bedroom to extinguish thebathroom light. ... Er -- who lives in Yalova, just south of Istanbulon the eastern shore of the Sea of Marmara -- ... had just come fromthe bathroom when the quake struck with a deafening roar that lasted45 seconds. "It was awful," he said. "It was like a science fictionmovie when a fireball rushes toward you and blows open your doors. Isaw it coming clearly through the window in my son's room. It lookedlike a red fireball." ...".
17 July 1998, a 7.0Earthquake hit near Papua New Guinea, creating 30-foot tsunamisthat wiped out villages on the North Coast of Papua New Guinea.A page on thewebsite www.cbjd.net said "... an OZ TV news item showed anAustralian Geology Professor from PNG University interviewingsurvivors of the Tsunami. The survivor reported that as the sea waveswept in it was on fire--as was the air above it. ... Many bodieswere apparently burnt. ..." and also quoted ABCNEWS.com as saying"... Particularly troubling was the question from a 15-year-oldschoolgirl who asked about a "mountain of water with fire sparkles."Many of the victims had what appeared to be severe burns, suggestingthat the water was on fire. ...".
According to a 23 April 2002 article by Kenneth Chang in TheNew York Times: "... A microphone in the Pacific Ocean near WakeIsland recorded a 45-second, low-frequency roar, too low to be heardby human ears. ... Earthquakes can generate similar low rumbles, butthose last only about 10 seconds ... It was the sound of nearly acubic mile of sediment giving way along an ocean bottom slope 2,200miles away off Papua New Guinea. ... an underwater landslide ...churned up the 30-foot-high tsunami
that crashed onto coastal villages of Papua New Guinea on July 17,1998, killing more than 2,100 people. ... the earthquake had shakenloose a landslide that in turn caused the tsunami. Surveys of theocean bottom found freshly collapsed sediment that slid nearly a miledown a 25-degree slope. ...".
10 January 1998, before the Chinese New Year, a 5.8Earthquake hit Northeastern China, damaging part of the GreatWall.
8 November 1997 (Chinese year4694), the year of Comet Hale-Bopp, a7.9Earthquake hit China about 700 km northwest of Lhasa, Tibet.
27 July 1976, the year of CometWest, an 8.0 Earthquakehit Tangshan, China. According to apage on the website www.cbjd.net, the "... June 5, 1977, New YorkTimes described the great earthquake which destroyed Tangshan, Chinaon July 28, 1976, and killed over 650,000 people. "Just before thefirst tremor at 3:42 am, the sky lit up like daylight. The multi-huedlights, mainly white and red, were seen up to 200 miles away. Leaveson many trees were burned to a crisp and growing vegetables werescorched on one side, as if by a fireball."".
According to aUSGS web page: "... Prince William Sound, Alaska 1964 March 2803:36:14 UTC (March 27 local), Magnitude 9.2 ... This greatearthquake and ensuing tsunami took 125 lives (tsunami 110,earthquake 15) ... Anchorage, about 120 kilometers northwest ofthe epicenter, sustained the most severe damage to property. ...Duration of the shock was estimated at 3 minutes. ... The earthquakewas accompanied by vertical displacement over an area of about 520,00square kilometers. The major area of uplift trended northeast fromsouthern Kodiak Island to Price William Sound and trended east-westto the east of the sound. Vertical displacements ranged from about11.5 meters of uplift to 2.3 meters of subsidence relative to sealevel. Off the southwest end of Montague Island, there was absolutevertical displacement of about 13 - 15 meters. ... This shockgenerated a tsunami that devasted many towns along the Gulf ofAlaska, and left serious damage at Alberni and Port Alberni, Canada,along the West Coast of the United States (15 killed), and in Hawaii.The maximum wave height recorded was 67 meters at Valdez Inlet.Seiche action in rivers, lakes, bayous, and protected harbors andwaterways along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas caused minordamage. It was also recorded on tide gages in Cubaand Puerto Rico. ...".
According to a USGS web page: the "... Largest Earthquakes inthe World Since 1900 [were:] ...
They were the only ones since 1900 of magnitude 9.0 or greater. Incomparison, the 1906 San Franciso earthquake was a 7.8, according toanotherUSGS web page.
According to aUSGS web page: "... 1886 September 01 02:51 UTC (local August31), 7.3M, Intensity X ... the most damaging earthquake to occurin the Southeast United States and one of the largest historicshocks in Eastern North America. It damaged or destroyed manybuildings in the old city of Charleston and killed 60 people. ...Many acres of ground were overflowed with sand, and craterlets asmuch as 6.4 meters across were formed. In a few locations, water fromthe craterlets spouted to heights of about 4.5 to 6 meters. Fissures1 meter wide extended parallel to canal and stream banks. ...Structural damage was reported several hundred kilometers fromCharleston (including central Alabama, central Ohio, easternKentucky, southern Virginia, and western West Virginia), andlong-period effects were observed at distances exceeding 1,000kilometers. ... This earthquake was reported from distant places suchas Boston, Massachusetts; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois;Cuba and Bermuda. ... Other intraplateearthquakes include those at Cape Ann, Massachusetts (1755), andNew Madrid, Missouri (1811-1812).Earthquakes ... occurring within plates are not similarly understood.This problem still is being studied more than 100 years after theearthquake. ...".
According to aUSGS web page: "... the Mississippi River valley earthquakesof 1811-1812 rank as some of the largest in the United States sinceits settlement by Europeans. The area of strong shakingassociated with these shocks is two to three times larger than thatof the 1964 Alaska earthquake and 10 times larger than that of the1906 San Francisco earthquake. The magnitude of these series ofearthquakes, usually named the New Madrid, Missiouri,earthquakes, vary considerably between the mb and Ms valuesestimated by Nuttli. ... The first and second earthquakes occurred inArkansas (December 16, 1811 - two shocks - Mfa 7.2, MSn 8.5 and Mfa7.0, MSn 8.0) and the third and fourth in Missouri (January 23, 1812,Mfa 7.1, MSn 8.4; and February 7, 1812, Mfa 7.4, MSn 8.8). OttoNuttli, however, has postulated another strong earthquake in Arkansason December 16 at 18:00 UTC (MSn 8.0). This would make a total offive earthquakes of magnitude MSn 8.0 or higher occurring in theperiod December 16, 1811 through February 7, 1812. ... A notablearea of subsidence is Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee ... Subsidence thereranged from 1.5 to 6 meters, although larger amounts were reported....". According to anotherUSGS web page: ".. Shortly after 2 o'clock on the morning ofDecember 16, 1811, the Mississippi River valley was convulsed by anearthquake so severe that it awakened people in cities as distant atPittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Norfolk, Virginia. ... studies of theseismicity since 1812 show that the region is behaving in a mannermore or less typical of active seismic zones. ... extrapolations ofrecurrence curves for the region indicate return periods -- dependingon the investigator -- of anywhere between about 400 to 1,000 yearsfor an earthquake the size of the December 16, 1811 event ...".
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