Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

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Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major Quake

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”

That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.

His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

Antichrist announces nominee for premiership

Iraq’s Sadr announces nominee for premiership

May 10, 2018 at 11:09 am

The leader of Iraq’s Sadrist Movement, Moqtada Al-Sadr, yesterday announced that he intends to nominate the governor of Maysan, Ali Dawai, for the position of prime minister if his coalition gains sufficient parliamentary seats in the upcoming elections.

Dawai, who is serving as the governor of Maysan for the second consecutive year, is known in southern Iraq for his modesty and frequent interaction with the public.

On Tuesday, Al-Sadr urged supporters to vote in Saturday’s parliamentary polls with a view to removing what he described as “corrupt officials” from power.

Al-Sadr supports the eclectic Sairon coalition, which includes Iraq’s Al-Istiqama Party and several leftist parties, including the Iraqi Communist Party.

Iraq is set to hold parliamentary polls this Saturday, in which more than 7,000 candidates from a host of parties will vie for seats in the national assembly.

Saturday’s vote will be Iraq’s first parliamentary race since the Daesh terrorist group was defeated last year after overrunning much of the country in mid-2014. The group has vowed to target polling stations.

Some 24 million Iraqis will be eligible to cast ballots in the election.

Pakistan and the Islamic nuclear horn

Potential contact between extremists and Pakistan nuclear scientists: Gina Haspel

May 10, 2018, 11.22 AM IST

WASHINGTON: The CIA continues to be very concerned about the potential connection between extremist groups and Pakistani nuclear scientists and is very closely monitoring this, a top official from the spy agency has told lawmakers.

“There was very deep concern about potential contacts, and we continue to monitor this very closely, between extremists and Pakistani nuclear scientists,” Gina Haspel, US President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director told the members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee during her confirmation hearing yesterday.

Haspel, if confirmed by the Senate, would be the first female head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She was responding to a question from Senator John Cornyn.

“(Recently reading through a book) I was reminded that post-9/11, President Bush was concerned about reports he had received that Osama bin Laden and al Qaida were meeting with the Pakistani officials connected with their nuclear programme to gain access to a nuclear device that they might then use for a follow-on attack against the cities like Washington DC,” Cornyn said.

“Without divulging classified information, can you confirm that there were concerns about follow-on attacks using nuclear devices, biological weapons, other weapons of mass destruction that might have killed more innocent Americans as happened on 9/11? Was that the environment in which you and the country were operating in at the time?” Cornyn asked.

There were very grave concerns on that front, Haspel answered.

“And indeed, al Qaida had those kinds of programmes, efforts to acquire crude, dirty bombs, efforts to develop — they had a programme — a biological weapons programme. I remember the operative who was in charge of that,” Haspel said.

Panetta is finally telling the truth about Iran

Trump’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal creates a ‘very dangerous situation,’ says Leon Panetta

Kellie Ell

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Donald Trump’s announcement to leave the Iran nuclear deal leaves the United States and the Middle East in “a very dangerous situation.”

If Iran restores its nuclear program, a military response may be the only option, he told CNBC on Wednesday.

“The president lost his leverage because we had them in least in a box with regards to developing nuclear weapons,” Panetta told CNBC’s Leslie Picker on “Fast Money.” “They’re out of that box now.”

The deal, signed in 2015, was President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. Other parties to the agreement included Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

In exchange for Tehran’s promise to limit its nuclear program, the signatories lifted trade sanctions against Iran’s economy that had cut its oil exports in half.

Trump made his announcement on Tuesday that the U.S. will withdraw from the deal and restore sanctions on Iran. The new sanctions could start as early as next week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.

Panetta, who headed the Pentagon and CIA during the Obama administration and is co-founder of the Panetta Institute of Public Policy, said Iran now has no incentive to negotiate.

“We are left with a negotiation that isn’t likely to happen,” he said. “Or, some kind of potential military confrontation in the future. And that’s a lousy choice.”

And if Iran decides to move ahead with its nuclear program, Panetta said, “I don’t think there is any other option but the potential of some kind of military action.”

In addition, leaving the deal will likely fracture relationships with allies, he said.

“We’ve raised are real questions about whether or not you can trust our country,” Panetta said.

“There are a number of crises around the world,” he pointed out. “The reality is, the United States cannot deal with these crises without our allies. We can’t do this alone. And here we are, taking our greatest allies, France, Great Britain and Germany, and basically throwing them out the window,” he said.

The withdrawal will also likely heighten Chinese and Russian distrust of the U.S., he said.

“You can’t work out any negotiations without mutual trust,” said Panetta.

Panetta said his greatest concern with the Trump administration is that he doesn’t “see a strategy here.”

More shaking before the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12)

Report: New York City is overdue for a major earthquake

If a 5.0 Earthquake were to hit New York City, there could be $39 billion dollars worth of damage and 30 million tons of rubble… and experts say the city is overdue, according to the Daily Mail. Veuer’s Sam Berman has the full story.

Buzz60

Believe it or not, the Rochester region has experienced two small earthquakes in five days.

One was last Friday, the other Tuesday. Both were centered several miles below Lake Ontario, less than 100 miles away. Neither did any damage and almost no one felt them.

Still, we’re having a San Andreas moment. Here’s what you need to know about it:

Are two quakes in five days unusual?

No, not at all. There have been 46 temblors in the state in the last two years. That’s one every two weeks. Massena and Malone, neighboring small cities in the North Country, have alone recorded six quakes since Christmas.

These two under Lake Ontario just pushed the envelope a little.

Could the two temblors be related?

Actually, yes.

“Thirty years ago … we would have said it’s just coincidence, one has nothing to do with another. But that view has changed,” John Tarduno, a professor of geophysics at the University of Rochester, told us Tuesday.

Today’s thinking is a quake could relieve stress in one fault zone but increase it in neighboring faults, he said.

Countless fractures and faults exist in the Earth’s crust below New York state. Some are clustered in fault zones.

Tarduno, who chairs UR’s earth and environmental sciences department, said our back-to-back quakes probably weren’t on the same fault. More likely, they were on parallel north-south faults that run under the lake.

Movement along the fault under the central part of Lake Ontario, where last week’s tiny temblor occurred, could have impacted a fault farther west, providing the impetus for Tuesday’s quake.

What causes our quakes?

Not exactly the same thing that causes severe earthquakes in places like California.

There, the problem is the collision of the nine immense continent-sized plates of rock that underlie the Earth’s surface. The plates shift slowly en masse, but sometimes one plate becomes wedged against another.

Earthquakes occur along the West Coast and other plate boundaries when the plates finally break free of one another, releasing pent-up energy. (Think of an overweight canine trying to squeeze through a tight doggie door. When he finally bursts through, he’s likely to go head over heels.)

There are no doggie doors here in upstate New York. We’re in the middle of the North American plate, not at the edge. So what happens here?

Tarduno said the ever-moving plates impart energy to neighboring plates. Here, it could be the Atlantic impacting the North American plate. It’s like a chain-reaction accident on a crowded highway — one car slams in the back of another, which slams another, which slams a third. Pretty soon, the 20th car in line has a crumpled back end.

When that energy reaches the large cracks known as faults that exist in the crust in the interior of the continent, those faults can slip. Bingo, another small earthquake.

Does this happen everywhere?

Rochester and the area just to our west and southwest, where there is a well-known fault zone known as the Clarendon-Linden, are in a low-to-moderate earthquake hazard zone. It’s the fourth-worst of seven long-term hazard levels assigned by the U.S. Geological Survey.

New York City, the Hudson Valley and much of northern New York are in the fourth level, reflecting the more extensive fault zones that exist there. The extreme northeastern corner of the state is the most seismically active place in the Northeast, and was assigned the fifth hazard level.

Large sections of the country — the Upper Midwest and Plains, much of Texas and Florida — have little or no long-term risk of earthquakes, according to the Geological Survey.

Has New York ever had a really bad quake?

No, there is no record of a truly awful earthquake in New York — the kind that levels entire blocks and leaves many people injured or dead.

However, at least six earthquakes centered in New York state have measured above magnitude 5.0 — the level at which people are frightened and some damage to property can occur.

What likely was the second-worst quake in state history occurred shortly after 6 a.m. Aug. 12, 1929, and was centered near Attica, Wyoming County. It was felt throughout western and central New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario. Its magnitude has been estimated at 5.2 to 5.6.

In Attica, chimneys fell, walls cracked, windows shattered and people panicked. In Rochester, some buildings were felt to sway and unsecured dishes shattered on the floor.

The worst quake in state history, with a magnitude of 5.8 to 6.0, struck shortly after midnight Aug. 5, 1944. Centered near Massena, St. Lawrence County, the quake was felt throughout New York, New England and adjoining areas of Quebec and Ontario.

Damage was extensive in Massena and nearby Cornwall, Ontario. In Rochester, many residents leaped from their beds, and dishes and windows rattled.

No injuries were reported in either quake.

How could someone in Victor feel Tuesday’s quake when you didn’t?

It’s the luck of the draw.

One local person reported feeling Tuesday’s earthquake to the Geological Survey. In 2013, a more powerful quake 200 miles away in Canada led more than 250 Monroe County residents to file an “I felt it” report with the agency. A strong 2011 quake in Virginia, 350 miles distant, triggered more than 500 local reports.

Large earthquakes are felt by everyone. Smaller ones? It depends on where you are and what you’re doing.

“The proximity (of the quake), the type of building you’re living in, how the energy propagates through the crust, all these things come into play,” Tarduno said.

“Think about this: Take a wine glass and hit it with your finger. The glass may ring, or the glass may not ring. Buildings are that way,” he said. “It just happens to be the oddities of how the energy focuses so that even with a small earthquake, people might feel it more one place more than another. It’s how the energy interacts with your surroundings.”

People on upper floors are more likely to feel a building’s movement. People in a quiet room are more likely to notice.

Those who are outside are less likely to sense anything amiss. As Tarduno noted, there are numerous accounts of people strolling a sidewalk oblivious to a sizable quake and wondering why everyone else is rushing into the street.

Are worse quakes coming?

Last week’s temblor was magnitude 1.5. This week’s was a 2.4. Does this mean that we’ll hit 3.6 next week?

“It doesn’t work that way,” Tarduno said with a laugh. “There’s no relationship in terms of size.

“I think this wasn’t an unusual event, given the historic seismicity that we know about the area,” he said.

SORR@Gannett.com