The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Living on the Fault Line

A major earthquake isn’t likely here, but if it comes, watch out.

Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo

This chart shows the location of the Ramapo Fault System, the longest and one of the oldest systems of cracks in the earth’s crust in the Northeast. It also shows the location of all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in New Jersey during the last 50 years. The circle in blue indicates the largest known Jersey quake.

The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.

After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.

Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.

During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.

“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”

Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.

Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.

After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.

But no area on the East Coast is as densely populated or as heavily built-up as parts of New Jersey and its neighbors. For this reason, scientists refer to the Greater New York City-Philadelphia area, which includes New Jersey’s biggest cities, as one of “low earthquake hazard but high vulnerability.” Put simply, the Big One isn’t likely here—but if it comes, especially in certain locations, watch out.

Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.

Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.

The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.

For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.

Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”

The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.

The Ramapo Fault sits on the North American Plate, which extends past the East Coast to the middle of the Atlantic, where it meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range in constant flux. The consequences of this intraplate setting are huge: First, as Gates points out, “The predictability of bigger earthquakes on…[such] settings is exceedingly poor, because they don’t occur very often.” Second, the intraplate setting makes it more difficult to link our earthquakes to a major cause or fault, as monitors in California can often do.

This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”

Careless Russia Loses More Nukes

The tail section of the K-159 submarine before it sank. Credit: Bellona

When officials from Norway met their counterparts from Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, to discuss issues of nuclear safety this week, they brought a host of questions to the table – one concerning reports that Russia had lost a nuclear powered cruise missile at sea.

According to American intelligence reports cited by US media, the errant missile, powered by an onboard nuclear reactor, had gone astray during a failed test sometime between November and February and crashed into the Barents Sea.

As luck would have it, that area – thanks to its long history of sunken atomic debris and as home to the former Soviet nuclear submarine fleet – is a primary concern to bilateral efforts in bringing radiation contamination worries to heel. The joint group of Russians and Norwegians have been meeting to discuss these issues annually for 21 years.

This year, Russian officials had no news to offer in the case of the missing missile and characterized the US media reports as “fake.”

Vladimir Potsyapun, Rosatom’s deputy director for state policy in the field of radioactive waste, explained that the corporation had forwarded questions about the missile disappearance to the Russian Foreign Ministry, which in turn has to forward the question to Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

“As soon as an answer materializes, we will tell you,” he told the gathering, adding that, “Unfortunately, we live at a time when ‘fake’ is substituted for reality.”

What’s not fake, however, is that the Barents Sea region has for more than half a century been home to Russia’s forgotten nuclear secrets.

In 2012, Moscow released data on the extent of the damage. Between 1955 and the early 1990s, the Soviet Navy scuttled some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste in the Arctic, along with 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel, 735 other pieces of radioactive machinery – and an entire nuclear submarine.

On land, other nuclear cast offs collected in places like Andreyeva Bay, a former submarine maintenance yard where more than 22,000 spent nuclear fuel piled up over the decades. Many of these fuel assemblies are damaged, as are the often-leaky bunkers in which they are stored. Other hazards, like the Lepse nuclear service ship ­– itself crammed with more than 600 radioactive fuel rods from nuclear icebreakers – sat ignored for decades until western governments funded its safe dismantlement.

Even civilian nuclear endeavors pose worries, as the eldest reactors at the Kola Nuclear Power Plant continue to operate well past their primes on run-time extensions granted by the government.

The list goes on. So whether or not the US reports Potsyapun referred to are fake or not doesn’t really matter. A nuclear powered missile lost amid these nuclear headaches would be the least of it.

Fortunately there has been progress on other fronts in the cleanup, and these steps forward were the subject of last week’s bilateral gathering.

“Cooperation in the field of nuclear and radiation safety is very important for our countries,” Audun Halvorsen, state secretary to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said by way of opening the meeting. “We are trying to make the world on both sides of the border safer and hope to satisfy all with the manner in which the projects for ridding spent fuel from Andreyeva Bay are progressing, as well as the disposal of the former floating technical base Lepse.”

Andreyeva Bay

It was only last year, thanks to an international effort sparked by Bellona, that cleanup at Andreyeva Bay finally began. By boat and by rail the accrued fuel rods are slowly leaving the old facility for safer storage in Russia’s Ural Mountains.

andreyevascary Spent nuclear fuel in dry storage at Andreyeva Bay. (Photo: Bellona)

According to Valery Yermenko, the director of SevRAO, one of Russia’s nuclear waste management agencies, some 2,985 of the spent submarine fuel assemblies have been hauled away.

But larger challenges await in 2019, when technicians at the base will begin removing damaged fuel rods from the facility’s notorious repositories – one of which in 1982 developed cracks, threatening to dump a stew of plutonium, uranium into the Barents Sea.

Much of this work has never before been performed, and a lions share of it will be done with robotic equipment.

Prepping for emergencies

Such a state of affairs requires a bilateral system of alerts, which is especially sensitive given the Soviet history denying that major accidents – such as Chernobyl – took place until time and evidence proved otherwise.

Per Strand, head of the Norwegian Agency for Radiation Protection, or NRPA, underscored the importance of being candid about nuclear incidents, and hailed Russia’s cooperation.

Halvorsen added that this arrangement was crucial for providing a sense of public security. In this, Norway has an advantage among its own citizens.

“According to a survey in our country, 80 percent of Norwegians trust our information and are ready to follow our instructions in case of emergencies,” Strand said.

To further bolster cooperation the NRPA has invited Russia to take part in a national radiation safety exercise that Norway plans to hold in 2020.

Yevgeny Nikora, the deputy governor of the Murmansk Region, addressed the emergency alert system put in place by his government. He said Murmansk’s citizens receive timely information not only in the event of a radiation incident, but in cases of inclement weather, fires and other civil emergencies.

Still, he said there was room for improvement.

“We widely use mobile phone text notification, social networks, etc. The working capacity of this system has been proved by practice,’ he said. “But I would like to note that issues of nuclear safety and how it concerns our population is far from the best.”

Sunken nuclear hazards

As to the nuclear waste containers, reactors and submarines and other radioactive rubbish Russia laid to waste at the bottom of the Arctic’s Kara Sea, Norway and Russia annually launch expeditions to map possible leaks of contamination into the environment.

The bulk of these intentionally sunken hazards lay off the coast of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, itself a former nuclear testing ground, and pose a danger to Russia’s ambitions to drill oil in the Arctic.


The condition of the K-27 submarine, which the Soviet Navy scuttled in the waters off Novaya Zemlya. Credit: IBRAE

But the two undersea objects that cause the most apprehension are the K-27 and K-159 nuclear submarines.

The first of these was sunk by the navy in the shallows off the archipelago in 1981. Years before, in 1968, the K-27’s reactor suffered a fatal leak, which damaged its fuel assemblies and killed nine. The Soviet Navy attempted to repair the sub but failed, and instead technicians sealed its reactors and scuttled it.

The K-159, which was decommissioned in 1989, sank in dramatic circumstances in August of 2003. At the time of its sinking, it was being towed from the Gremikha submarine maintenance base to dismantling at the Nerpa shipyard near Murmansk.

When the towing convoy ran into heavy weather, the dilapidated submarine, which was kept afloat by pontoons, snapped its towline and plunged to the depths, drowning nine of the sailors who were aboard to staunch leaks during the journey. The submarine now lies at a depth of 246 meters near Kildin Island in the fertile fishing grounds of Kola Bay.

In the summer of 2014, a three-week long Russian-Norwegian expedition set out to monitor the submarines, as well as the other radioactive junk sunk by the Soviet Navy. But samples taken from the seabed were inexplicably withheld by the Russians from the Norwegian side for several years.

During the joint gathering Halvorsen noted that Norway was finally given the samples, though he shed no light on the cause of the delay. He did say, however, that more expeditions to the undersea nuclear sites were in the offing.

k-159 sediment Researchers dredge sediment samples from around the K-159. Credit: Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority

Vladimir Romanov of Russia’s Federal Biomedical Agency, called for increased monitoring of the submarine wrecks, as the protective barriers around their reactors are sure to erode with time.

Ole Harbitz, the NRPA’s general director, agreed, and said the K-159 was an especially urgent case because of its location. But he admitted there were limits to what can be done.

“We can’t just tell Russia to lift these objects or not ­– it has to be their decision,” he said at the gathering. “You have to do research and figure out if the object would survive the ascent, or whether you need to look for other solutions – perhaps you need to build a sarcophagus around it.”

The Russian government has repeatedly promised to raise the K-159, but has failed to deliver. As has so often been the case in Russia’s nuclear cleanup endeavors, there is little funding available to lift the vessel or even conduct sufficient monitoring.

What the public wants

Norway has been keen to encourage the cooperation of civil society organizations with Rosatom, but owing to a Kremlin campaign against non-profit groups, especially foreign ones, the results have often been mixed.

Nonetheless, Rosatom closed the gathering by expressing gratitude to Bellona for bringing the issue of nuclear cleanup in Northwest Russia to international attention.

The next joint meeting between Norwegian and Russian officials is scheduled will be held in 2019 in the Norwegian city of Tromsø.

The Risk of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Risk of India-Pakistan crisis remains high

The Nation

LAHORE (PR) – The Institute for Policy Reforms held a memorable seminar about the risks of friction between nuclear armed countries in South Asia. The discussion was based on themes presented by Moeed Yusuf in his book “Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: US Crisis Management in South Asia”, published by the prestigious Stanford University Press. Moeed Yusuf is Associate Vice President USIP Washington DC. In addition to the author, a dazzling group of respected experts gave their views, includingformer Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan, General Waheed Arshad, Ambassador Shahid Malik, and analyst and anchor Ejaz Haider.

Welcoming the participants, Chairman and CEO IPR Humayun Akhtar Khan said that conventional wisdom informed us that possession of nuclear weapons ruled out the possibility of direct conflict between rival nuclear states. Trend of Pakistan India relations since 1998, however, shows the opposite. He said that continuous occurrence of incidents for seventy years confirms that Pakistan and India are unable to resolve disputes bilaterally. Involvement of non-state actors, tactical nuclear weapons, and missile technology added further layers of risk to an already complex situation.

Moeed Yusuf said that his book examines India-Pakistan crises since the nuclear tests of 1998 and focuses on US role inKargil, the2001-02 military standoff, and the Mumbai crisis. The book is original scholarship by a Pakistani about nuclear deterrence and crises between nuclear states.

Yusuf said that India and Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons to gain strategic independence. His research however finds that since the nuclear tests, both sides have become even more dependent on mediation. USA has actively mediated in South Asia as its concern for nuclear war overwhelms its leaning towards India. Breakdown of U.S.-Pakistan relations, if it happened, could make it difficult for America to influence Pakistani. In such situations, it will resist the temptation of siding with India as Pakistan may seek to bank more on China in future.

Yusuf predicted that the risk of India-Pakistan crises remains high. USA and others will continue to influence regional crisis situations. It is in Pakistan’s interest to maintain good relations with USA. When asked what was the value-added of his work, Yusuf said he hoped his book encourages young Pakistani scholars to make original contribution to western literature for an informed debate about Pakistan.

Former Foreign Secretary Riaz Khan described Moeed’s book as an “outstanding analytical study” and a “must-read” for policy circles in Pakistan, India, and elsewhere. He agreed with the thesis about critical third-party role in defusing a crisis. He emphasized the need for mid-crisis reevaluation which in the case of Kargil made clear the untenability of the operation. In his view, Kargil and later, Mumbai, damaged Pakistan and the Kashmir cause and helped India gain internationally. In the nuclear environment, militancy and drivers of sub-conventional conflict must be controlled and countered. Once a crisis begins, diplomacy must interject at every point. Also, Pakistan and India should revisit dangerous doctrines such as Cold Start and development of battlefield nuclear weapons. As responsible nuclear neighbours, they must institute top military contacts and hold regular summits regardless of the state of relations.

General Waheed Arshad said that while non-state actors affected both countries, there was no mechanism in place for sustained dialogue. That is why the concept of ‘brokered bargaining’ or “role of US as third party” is defining. Yet, US tilt towards India and her adversarial relationship with Pakistan raises concerns about its role as an honest broker. “For a sustained peaceful future” he counseled that India and Pakistan eschew recourse to third party and begin meaningful and candid bilateral dialogue to resolve differences.

Ejaz Haider said that the book’s brilliant logic and the deterrence model it presents is applicable beyond the Pakistan India dyad. He said that while US is a natural third party because of its influence, there will be situations where other world powers, especially China and Russia, would act as third party. Former High Commissioner to New Delhi, Shahid Malik said that some instances covered in the book were directly relevant to his experience. He enthralled the meeting with a detail account of his experiences in India.

How Obama Helped the Shi’a Horn

Iran, Iraq, and Obama

Lewis Morris

New information sheds light on Iran’s involvement in Iraq. Just remember how much Obama “helped.”

Recently declassified interrogation reports from a decade ago confirm a greater degree of Iranian involvement in the Iraq War than previously acknowledged.

Qais al-Khazali, a prominent Shiite politician and militia leader in Iraq, was captured and interrogated by coalition forces in 2007 for his suspected role in the death of five American soldiers. At the time, Khazali revealed that his group and other Iraqi Shiite militias had received training and arms directly from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. This was during the height of insurrectionist violence targeting U.S. and allied troops in an effort to drive them from Iraq.

Khazali also revealed information about trips he took to Iran with Moqtada al-Sadr, one of the most powerful militant Shiites in Iraq. He told interrogators that Sadr and several other Iraqi political figures were sympathetic to Iran.

Khazali’s group won 15 seats in Iraq’s assembly in May. It’s only a sliver of the 329-seat total, but the group’s rapid growth signifies that Iran may be gaining influence in the Iraqi power structure. The Trump administration is currently mulling whether to declare Khazali’s group a terrorist entity. Khazali now claims that he is not connected to Iran, but we have only his word to confirm that.

These reports further detail Iran’s role in dragging out the Iraq war and causing the deaths of American troops there. This was part of its long-term strategy to become the premier power in the region, a strategy that was rewarded by our previous president.

Barack Obama began helping Iran’s cause by unilaterally abandoning Iraq. After that, the country spiraled into chaos, the Islamic State rose to power, and much of the hard-fought gains of the U.S. coalition were rolled back. He then rubbed salt in the wound by sending Iran a pallet of $400 million in cash.

The money, which was in gold, U.S. dollars, Swiss francs, and other currencies, was part of a $1.7 billion settlement over disputed funds from an arms deal dating back before the 1979 Iranian revolution. This payout came “coincidentally” at the same time the U.S. was working to release U.S. citizens held in Iran and trying to put together the Iranian nuclear deal.

Obama vigorously defended his actions and belittled any charge that the money was a ransom payment. When asked why $400 million had to be paid in cash, the State Department insisted that it was the only way to make a payment since Iran and the U.S. do not have any banking ties per U.S. law.

No matter whether Obama’s lackeys at State believed their own excuse about the lack of banking ties, that cash will be used to support terrorist activities. The U.S. will see — or more likely has already seen — that ransom money used against us to kill Americans somewhere in the world.

President Donald Trump has played a much stronger hand with Iran. By pulling out of the nuclear deal, he signified that the U.S. will not be snowballed or bullied into working with the terrorist state. Unfortunately, a significant amount of damage has already been done by our previous president, leaving Americans and our allies less safe.

Support for the Antichrist’s New Government

Support for New Government in Baghdad

The Financial Tribune

The Iran Embassy in Baghdad announced that it will support the new Iraqi government irrespective of which political group or faction takes the helm.

In the statement, a copy of which was obtained by IRNA, the embassy congratulated the opening of the Iraqi National Parliament, calling the event a major success and an important step towards political stability in the war-ravaged Arab state.

The statement said “The Islamic Republic of Iran has always attached special importance to its relations with Iraq and has emphasized continued cooperation and coordination in diverse political, security, economic and cultural affairs with Iraq.”

Iraq’s Parliament held its first meeting Monday after the May national election but failed to elect a speaker — the first step toward forming a new government.

On Sunday, lawmakers led by influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced they had managed to form an alliance that would give them a majority bloc in parliament.

Hours later, a rival group led by militia commander Hadi al-Amiri and former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki responded by saying it had formed its own alliance that would be the largest bloc, after it persuaded some lawmakers to defect from the rival group.

The embassy statement emphasized that “Tehran, as it has done with all previous Iraqi governments, will cooperate with the new government that will be formed  by the new parliament.”