The Sixth Seal Is Past Due (Revelation 6:12)

New York City is Past Due for an Earthquake

by , 03/22/11
filed under: News
nyc earthquake, new york city earthquake risk, nyc earthquake threat, earthquake
New York City may appear to be an unlikely place for a major earthquake, but according to history, we’re past due for a serious shake. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that about once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the Big Apple. The last one was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 — no one was killed, but buildings were damaged.

Any tremor above a 6.0 magnitude can be catastrophic, but it is extremely unlikely that New York would ever experience a quake like the recent 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.

There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, which may have caused two small tremors in 1981 and a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1737. There is also a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation rates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate.

John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory, said that if a 5.0 magnitude quake struck New York today, it would result in hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars in damages. The city’s skyscrapers would not collapse, but older brick buildings and chimneys would topple, likely resulting in casualities.

The Earth Observatory is expanding its studies of potential earthquake damage to the city. They currently have six seismometers at different landmarks throughout the five boroughs, and this summer, they plan to place one at the arch in Washington Square Park and another in Bryant Park.
Won-Young Kim, who works alongside Armbuster, says his biggest concern is that we can’t predict when an earthquake might hit. “It can happen anytime soon,” Kim told the Metro. If it happened tomorrow, he added, “I would not be surprised. We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

Armbuster voiced similar concerns to the Daily News. “Will there be one in my lifetime or your lifetime? I don’t know,” he said. “But this is the longest period we’ve gone without one.”
Via Metro and NY Daily News
Images © Ed Yourdon

The Antichrist’s New Middle East (Revelation 13)

A new Middle East?

In this Middle East in flux, fundamental alliances are crumbling, old paths are being abandoned, political articles of faith questioned and new plots are taking shape. Emerging actors who don’t like to play it safe are asserting their presence, and traditional powers are groping to find their way amid increasing difficulties.

The contours of some of these changes already manifested themselves in the crisis that erupted in June, between the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain on one hand, and Qatar on the other.

The crisis marked the demise of the role of regional institutions, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League, and their replacement by other, less formal and institutionalised groupings.

For instance, instead of its traditional reliance on the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Saudi Arabia has preferred to work within the so-called Arab Alliance in Yemen, and the Quartet in regional politics. If this trend continues – which seems likely – long-standing institutions run the risk of descending into total irrelevance.

In Gaza, an unanticipated political warming of relations between Hamas and its erstwhile bitter rival, Fatah’s former security honcho Mohamed Dahlan, has been in the making for months. It has been widely speculated that Dahlan will return from his exile in the UAE to become prime minister of Gaza, while Hamas will retain its control of the security portfolio, and Egypt will reopen the Rafah Crossing.

Obviously, this step is taken in open defiance of Fatah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Dahlan has been at loggerheads for many years.

If finalised, the new arrangement – mediated by Egypt, financed by the UAE and indirectly backed by the United States – would significantly reshape Palestinian politics.

It would reinforce the current division between Gaza and the West Bank, and undermine the influence of Abbas over Palestinian political and armed factions. It would also subject solid regional alliances to a drastic reconfiguration. News of the plan has already drawn the ire of Abbas and strained Cairo’s longstanding relations with Fatah.

Yet the most striking outcome of this deal is that it may turn the cautious rapprochement between Hamas and Egypt into a substantial alliance, an unthinkable development in light of the antagonism and mistrust that have governed their relations over the past decades.

Hamas has already tightened its control of the Egypt border, and organised a huge rally to declare its support for the Egyptian army in its war against “terrorism”. In return, Cairo has, as scholar Michele Dunne explained, “abandoned earlier efforts to isolate or crush Hamas”, the Palestinian offshoot of its domestic nemesis, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, another political storm may be brewing in the heart of the Arab world. A solution for the Palestinian question – the “ultimate deal” in the words of Donald Trump, or the “deal of the century” as the Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi dubbed it – has slowly come to the surface.

The deal has apparently gained currency in Washington and Arab capitals in recent months.

US and Middle Eastern leaders have not explained what exactly is meant by these terms, and whether they describe a workable short-term framework agreement or just a distant long-term objective.

However, media reports indicate that the plan offers a formula to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that involves the entire Arab world, and imply that it would radically transform both Middle Eastern politics and geography.

According to reports, the vision includes the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza, which would include parts of northern Sinai, and would accommodate Palestinian refugees. Israel would in return concede parts of its territory to Egypt.

Full normalisation between Israel and Arab states would ensue, which might pave the way for the formation of an Israel-Sunni Arab coalition against Iran.

The time-honoured norms of Arab politics are also slowly changing. Most Arab states no longer pay deference, or even lip service, to the ideals of pan-Arabism or Islamism, which have consistently been seen as sources of domestic legitimacy.

For decades following the inception of the modern Arab state system, Arab regimes used to agitate for Arab unity, and protest over the plight of the Palestinians and the wellbeing of the Islamic Ummah. But now they make no effort to hide that realpolitik, not ideology, has become a fact of life in Arab politics.

Saudi Arabia, for one, has to a large extent relinquished its historic role as a leading “Muslim” country as the guardian of the Muslim holy shrines. It is now wagering on military might, rather than Muslim diplomacy. That’s not entirely a surprise in light of Riyadh’s relentless bombing of a fellow Muslim country, Yemen, and its alleged endeavours to develop ties with Israel – both taboos in the eyes of Arab

Other crucial developments include a possible rapprochement between two of the region’s leading powers: Iran and Saudi Arabia. Indications of a possible thaw in relations include a handshake between the foreign ministers of the two countries in Istanbul, a rare visit by Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to Saudi Arabia and a plan to exchange diplomatic visits after the end of the Hajj season.

In the shifting sands of the Levant, the Islamic State group is losing territory and influence; the balance of power is tipping in favour of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad who is clawing back territory from the rebels; and a referendum for the independence of Kurdistan is slated for September 25.

The implications of these developments for the international relations of the Middle East are still not entirely clear, but are likely to be extremely significant. Assad’s victory will likely embolden Arab autocrats and undermine the already meagre prospects of democratic transition in their countries.

The rise of an independent Kurdistan in Iraq will encourage separatist Kurds in Turkey to follow suit, and may ignite a new civil war in Iraq for the control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The “deal of the century” would, meanwhile, put an end to the 70-year-old Arab-Israeli conflict.

A shift in regional alliances would likely breed a change in the region’s balance of power, disrupt the pecking order of the Arab state system and, perhaps even trigger the birth of an entirely new regional order.

Domestically, meanwhile, a world of difference still exists between the expectations of Arab people and the foreign policies of their states. Legitimacy deficits persist, patience is wearing thin and instability remains the order of the day.

Nael Shama is a political researcher and writer who is specialised in Middle East politics.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

Iran Helps the Korean Nuclear Horn government believes North Korea got help from Iran in building nuclear weapons

By Rick Moran

Senior Whitehall sources have told The Sunday Telegraph it is not credible that North Korean scientists alone brought about the technological advances.

One Government minister reportedly said: “North Korean scientists are people of some ability, but clearly they’re not doing it entirely in a vacuum.

Another Foreign Office source reportedly added: “For them to have done this entirely on their own stretches the bounds of credulity.”

Whilst Iran is reportedly top of the list of countries suspected of assisting North Korea in some form, Russia is also suspected of doing so.


UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also hinted at his department’s concerns last week as he took questions from MPs about the North Korea crisis.

Mr Johnson said: “There is currently an investigation into exactly how the country has managed to make this leap in technological ability.

“We are looking at the possible role that may have been played, inadvertently or otherwise, by some current and former nuclear states.”

It comes amid rising fears of World War 3 after North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear weapon test last week – describing it as an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile.

In the 1990s, the CIA pointed the finger at Pakistan and the nuclear black market network developed by “The Father of the Pakistan Bomb” A.Q. Khan as assisting both North Korea and Iran in going nuclear. In 2004, Khan confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. He later retracted that confession, but the proof of his activities is overwhelming.

Khan’s specialty was centrifuge technology, machines that are vital in enriching uranium to bomb grade levels. Iran now has advanced centrifuges that we were assured by the Obama administration were under constant surveillance and could not be used to enrich uranium beyond the 5% level (85% enrichment is the minimum necessary to construct a bomb).

But what the British government is concerned about is that centrifuge technology requires first world expertise. North Korea could not possibily have built machines that required such precise engineering so that they could spin hundreds of times a second. The comings and goings of Iranian scientists to and from North Korea has long been noted.

As for Russia, it is believed that the rocket engines used in North Korea’s advanced ICBM’s came from Ukraine. If any nation knew how to smuggle those rocket engines out of Ukraine, it would be Russia.

North Korea has received a lot of help in developing it’s nuclear and missile programs. Those nations who assisted Kim Jong-un in this endeavor could have blood on their hands if the US finds it necessary to take these programs out.

According to reports in the Sunday Express and the Telegraph, British officials are convinced that the Iranians assisted North Korea in developing its nuclear arsenal.

The British government also believes that Russia gave vital assistance to North Korea in their ICBM program.

New York Should Prepare for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


By Kathryn Miles

For a city that seems to move at the speed of light, being late is never a good thing. That’s true for budget agreements, that’s true for commuter trains, and as it turns out, it’s probably true for earthquakes as well.

We tend to think of seismic activity as a west coast problem. Friday demonstrated all too well what a magnitude 8.2 earthquake can do to Mexico and Central America; many of us remember the World Series quake that rocked the San Francisco area in 1989. But New York, which is actually riddled with faults, has a long history of earthquakes: On average, the region has witnessed a moderate quake (about a 5.0 on the Richter scale) every hundred years. The last one was in 1884. Seismologists say we can expect the next one any day now.

Admittedly, a moderate quake isn’t going to cause Hollywood-level destruction, nor is it going to raze Manhattan. But it is going to do plenty of damage: upwards of $39 billion in losses and over 30 million tons of debris. That rubble, caused largely by crumbled brick and stone buildings, is going to clog already congested roads, making it impossible for first responders and public transportation to move about the city.

It may be equally difficult to travel below ground in some cases. Take the Steinway Tunnel, a 1.3-mile cast-iron tube that runs deep below the East River. The 7 train passes through it every 20 minutes, often packed with commuters or, this time of year, Mets fans. Construction on the tunnel began around the time of the last earthquake, long before seismic codes or even modern engineering practices had been codified. As a result, there are big craters and gaps where the tunnel lining isn’t actually in contact with the earth around it. In the event of a quake, that’s going to cause the tunnel to rattle around. And because the tunnel runs through both the soft mud of the riverbed and the hard bedrock on either side, different segments are going to rattle around at different speeds and frequencies. That’s doubly bad news for cast iron that was never in very good shape to begin with.

Modal Trigger
New York is vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups – those running northeast and those running northwest.Mike Guillen

There are more than a dozen tunnels like the Steinway connecting Manhattan to New Jersey and Long Island. They’re all at risk of serious damage in the event of a quake. Just how much of a risk we can’t say, because little has been done to evaluate their seismic soundness. Vince Tirolo, a longtime engineer for the transit authority who now serves as a private consultant and adjunct professor at Columbia University, has been sounding the alarm about these tunnels for years. He says he hasn’t received much of a response from the city. As research for my book, “Quakeland,” I contacted the MTA to ask for an interview with the person handling their emergency management and seismic assessment. I wanted to know why more wasn’t being done to fix these beleaguered tunnels or to assess their risk in the event of an earthquake. They told me they couldn’t accommodate my request. I asked why. Nine months later, I’m still waiting for a response.

That doesn’t look good, particularly following the summer of hell, a season marked by delays, derailments and the revelation that both the MTA and the Port Authority have redirected monies towards ski resorts and ferry tickets, rather than shoring up tunnel infrastructure.

It’s doubly concerning given that those faults that crisscross Manhattan are not the only ones capable of seismic activity. Geologists now believe that the Ramapo Fault, which spans 185 miles from the Hudson Highlands through New Jersey and Pennsylvania, may be capable of a much stronger earthquake — maybe even one as strong as a 7.0.

That kind of quake could easily do more damage to the city proper than 9/11 or Superstorm Sandy. And given the fault’s proximity to Indian Point Energy Center, Entergy’s beleaguered nuclear power plant in Westchester County, crumpled brownstones and inactive subway tunnels may be the least of our concerns.

A few years ago, the United States Geological Survey conducted a seismic-risk assessment of all nuclear power plants. Excluding a few plants on the West Coast, Indian Point was deemed the plant with the greatest risk of core damage as a result of seismic activity, a dubious distinction for sure. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission required all US plants to undergo an extensive seismic evaluation, with an eye towards instituting additional safeguards and retrofits. Entergy was to submit their evaluation of Indian Point this year. Not only have they failed to do so, but they have also made a formal request of NRC that this requirement be waived altogether, citing the closure of the plant in 2021 as justification for this waiver.

Modal Trigger
Mike Guillen

Just how well the plant would perform in an earthquake remains a subject of debate amongst scientists and engineers. Klaus Jacob, a research scientist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, thinks even a 5.0 quake would raise safety concerns at the plant. A 7.0, he says, could easily do damage to the domes containing the reactors. Meanwhile, the siting of a large natural-gas pipeline near the plant has raised concerns with some nuclear insiders, who predict an explosion could create a Fukushima-like event there. Gas pipelines aren’t held to the same seismic standards as power plants, and they aren’t required to survive a seismic event. They also come with some of the same vulnerabilities seen in tunnels like the Steinway. Were this pipeline to rupture in an earthquake, it could cause a meltdown easily capable of billions of dollars of damage and the evacuation of millions of people.

We don’t have to be left with these doomsday scenarios. While earthquakes will also remain the most powerful and least understood natural disasters, investing in infrastructure and emergency plans can make their eventuality a lot less costly, both in terms of human life and the national economy. For that to happen, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio will need to find a way to set aside their differences and agree on a funding package that shores up New York’s most vulnerable tubes and tunnels. The state will need to take a hard look at the real risk of pipelines like the one to be completed near Indian Point. And Congress, now back from its summer recess, will need to find a way to pass a budget that includes real investment in our national infrastructure.

These are matters that can’t wait. New York’s next earthquake may be late, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be pulling into the station soon.


Kathryn Miles is the author of “Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake” (Penguin), out now.

Map: Merguerian, Charles, 2015b, Review of New York City bedrock with a focus on brittle structures; p. 17-67 in Herman, G. C. and Macaoay Ferguson, S., eds., Geological Association of New Jersey Guidebook, Neotectonics of the New York Recess, 32nd Annual Conference and Field Trip, Lafayette College, Easton, PA, 214 p.