ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be WaitingBy MARGO NASHPublished: March 25, 2001Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.Q. What have you found?A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault? A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement.There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.MARGO NASH
Wednesday, 05 January 2022 7:12 PM [ Last Update: Wednesday, 05 January 2022 7:20 PM ]
A number of rockets have targeted the Ain al-Assad air base, which hosts US forces, in Iraq’s western province of al-Anbar.
Shafaq News cited a security source as saying that five rockets targeted Ain al-Assad air base on Wednesday evening.
Later in the day, the news website said the rockets landed near the air base.
According to the report, the attack activated the C-RAM missile system of the base.
An official within the US-led coalition told Reuters that five rockets landed near Ain al-Asad base, adding that the attack caused no casualties.
Reuters also cited Iraqi military officials as saying that the rounds fired were Katyusha rockets.
Ain al-Assad air base was targeted by two explosive-laden drones on Tuesday, but they were reportedly shot down by Iraqi air defenses as they approached the base.
The attacks come amid growing anti-US sentiments over Washington’s military and political adventurism in the region, and also at a time that coincides with the second martyrdom anniversary of Iran’s top anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his comrades in a US drone strike in Iraq in 2020.
Katyusha rocket hits US military camp near Baghdad International AirportA Katyusha rocket hits an Iraqi military base hosting US forces near Baghdad International Airport, Iraqi security and military sources say.
General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and his Iraqi comrade Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were martyred along with their companions in a US drone strike authorized by former president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.
Both commanders were highly revered across the Middle East because of their key role in fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
Five days after the assassination, in a military operation codenamed Operation Martyr Soleimani, the IRGC launched a volley of ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad air base.
Iran said the missile strike was only a “first slap” in its process of taking “hard revenge” and that it would not rest until the US military leaves the Middle East in disgrace.
Back in January 2020, two days after the assassination, the Iraqi parliament passed a law requiring the Iraqi government to end the presence of the US-led foreign forces in the Arab country.
Since the assassination, Iraqi resistance forces have ramped up pressure on the US military to leave their country, targeting American bases and forces on numerous occasions, at one point pushing the Americans to ask them to “just leave us alone.”
Last year, Baghdad and Washington reached an agreement on ending the presence of all US combat troops in Iraq by the end of the year.
The US military declared the end of its combat mission in Iraq in December 2021, but resistance forces remain bent on expelling all American forces, including those who have stayed in the country on the pretext of training Iraqi forces or playing an advisory role.
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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A delegation from the Sadrist bloc met with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani in Erbil on Tuesday, discussing the October 10 elections and the formation of a new government for Iraq, according to Barzani’s office.
“They talked about the political process in Iraq, election results and the efforts to hold the first meeting of the Iraqi parliament and the formation of a new Iraqi government,” read a statement from Barzani’s office. Both sides emphasized on overcoming challenges in the country as well as the resolution of Erbil-Baghdad issues, it added.
Hassan al-Athari, head of the bloc, led the delegation.
“They [Sadrist bloc] believe that the next government should be different from the previous ones which were formed based on consensus. They think that some of the winners who have gained most of the seats should form the [new] cabinet while some others remain as opposition,” Mahmoud Mohammed, KDP spokesperson, later told Rudaw’s Hawraz Gulpi.
Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, has emphasized several times that he wants a “national-majority” cabinet.
https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1478303607720185857&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.rudaw.net%2Fenglish%2Fkurdistan%2F040120221&sessionId=f2f8d448021c6e0648fbad8f02e0b0c1c20076ed&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9fd78d5%3A1638479056965&width=550pxThe Sadrist bloc, which gained 73 seats out of the legislature’s 329 seats in the parliamentary election, has begun efforts to establish a cabinet that consists of the main winners of the vote.
Shiite parties have been divided into two blocks: Sadrists and Coordination Framework. Kurds have said they will not be part of disputes between both sides.
The October 10 vote’s controversial results were ratified by the Federal Supreme Court late December, ending months of disputes over the final results and paved the way for the political parties to hold further meetings to negotiate the formation of a new cabinet.
KDP, which had gained 33 seats in the initial results, lost two seats to the PUK when the final results were announced. This increased PUK’s seats from 15 to 17 but a Kurdish winning candidate, who won a seat in Kirkuk, has announced she is affiliated to the party as well.
The Kurdistan Region’s both ruling parties, KDP and PUK, have already held several meetings with Iraqi political parties regarding Iraq’s new cabinet.
Both parties will meet on Wednesday. They have announced that they will negotiate the formation of a new cabinet in Baghdad with Iraqi political parties as one team.
The KDP spokesperson said on Tuesday that they have a joint agenda with PUK which could be finalized during Wednesday’s meeting. Mohammed also said that KDP and PUK have agreed that “this cabinet should have real partnership for the [ethnic and religious] groups in Iraq,” adding that these parties should be considered in decision making.
Kurds have been kingmakers regarding the formation of a number of Iraqi cabinets in the past.
21 hrs 8 mins agoBy Barbara Starr and Oren Liebermann, CNN
The US military conducted strikes in Syria after indirect fire posed what a US-led coalition official called “an imminent threat” to troops near Green Village, a base in the east of the country near the Iraqi border.While the US is not officially confirming it conducted the strikes, a defense official with direct knowledge noted that only US forces in that area have weapons capable of carrying out these kinds of strikes.Preliminary assessments have concluded the strikes destroyed the seven Katyusha rocket sites they were targeting.”Indirect fire attacks pose a serious threat to innocent civilians because of their lack of discrimination,” the Operation Inherent Resolve official said in a statement.Operation Inherent Resolve is the US-led coalition to counter ISIS in Syria and Iraq.Although there was no specific attribution for the indirect fire, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the US continues to see threats against US forces in the region from Iranian-backed militias.”In just the last few days, there have been acts perpetrated by some of these groups that validate the consistent concerns that we’ve had over the safety and security of our people,” Kirby said at a news briefing Tuesday.Earlier Tuesday, the US shot down two drones as they approached Ain al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, according to the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office. It is the same base targeted by Iranian missiles two years ago after the US assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Qasem Soleimani.Though officials have not said whether they believe these recent attacks are related to the killing of Soleimani, the two-year anniversary of his death was this past weekend.nullTensions are also high as sensitive negotiationscontinue in Vienna, Austria, on the future of the Iran nuclear deal.US and coalition forces in the region have come under repeated attack from drones and indirect fire for months.On Sunday, an area near Baghdad airport where US forces are located was the target of a failed attack.In October, a “deliberate and coordinated” attack using multiple drones targeted US forces at the At-Tanf base in Syria near the borders with Iraq and Jordan.The US maintains approximately 900 troops in Syria, largely split between At-Tanf and Green Village.At the beginning of the year, US forces operating in Iraq transition from a military role to an advise and assist mission, helping the Iraqi government in its effort to root out and eliminate the last remnants of ISIS.”We don’t stay at this mission … this new mission … with any illusions that our people are under any less threat by these militia groups,” Kirby said. “We’re going to stay focused on that threat as we stay focused on the mission at hand and make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect our people.”The-CNN-Wire
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Another earthquake has struck near South Carolina’s capital city
- By MEG KINNARD – Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Yet another earthquake has struck near South Carolina’s capital city, the ninth in a series of rumblings that have caused geologists to wonder how long the convulsions might last.
Early Wednesday, a 2.6-magnitude earthquake struck near Elgin, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Columbia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was measured at a depth of 0.5 kilometers, officials said.
That area, a community of fewer than 2,000 residents near the border of Richland and Kershaw counties, has become the epicenter of a spate of recent seismic activity, starting with a 3.3-magnitude earthquake on Dec. 27.That quake clattered glass windows and doors in their frames, sounding like a heavy piece of construction equipment or concrete truck rumbling down the road.
Since then, a total of eight more earthquakes have been recorded nearby, ranging from 1.7 to Wednesday’s 2.6 quake. No injuries or damage have been reported.
According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, the state typically averages up to 20 quakes each year. Clusters often happen, like six small earthquakes in just more than a week last year near Jenkinsville, about 38 miles (61 kilometers) west of the most recent group of tremors.
Earthquakes are nothing new to South Carolina, although most tend to happen closer to the coast. According to emergency management officials, about 70% of South Carolina earthquakes are located in the Middleton Place-Summerville Seismic Zone, about 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) northwest of Charleston.
In 1886, that historic coastal city was home to the largest recorded earthquake in the history of the southeastern United States, according to seismic officials. The quake, thought to have had a magnitude of at least 7, left dozens of people dead and destroyed hundreds of buildings.
That event was preceded by a series of smaller tremors over several days, although it was not known that the foreshocks were necessarily leading up to something more catastrophic until after the major quake.null
Frustratingly, there’s no way to know if smaller quakes are foreshadowing something more dire, according to Steven Jaume, a College of Charleston geology professor who characterized the foreshocks ahead of Charleston’s 1886 disaster as “rare.”
“You can’t see it coming,” Jaume told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “There isn’t anything obvious moving or changing that you can put your finger on that you can say, ‘This is leading to this.'”
Typically, Jaume said that the recent quakes near Elgin — which lies along a large fault system that extends from Georgia through the Carolinas and into Virginia — would be characterized as aftershocks of the Dec. 27 event, since the subsequent quakes have all been smaller than the first.
But the fact that the events keep popping up more than a week after the initial one, Jaume said, has caused consternation among the experts who study these events.
“They’re not dying away the way we would expect them to,” Jaume said. “What does that mean? I don’t know.”
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s arrival in the White House nearly a year ago seemed to herald a historic shift toward less U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons and possibly a shrinking of their numbers. Even an American “no first use” pledge — a promise to never again be the first to use a nuclear weapon — seemed possible.
And then Russia happened — signs that it might be preparing to invade Ukraine.
Now, major shifts in U.S. nuclear weapons policy seem much less likely, and while Biden may insist on certain adjustments, momentum toward a historic departure from the Trump administration’s policy appears to have stalled.
The outlook will be clearer when the Biden administration completes its so-called nuclear posture review — an internal relook at the numbers, kinds and purposes of weapons in the nuclear arsenal, as well as the policies that govern their potential use. The results could be made public as early as January.
The biggest unknown is how forcefully Biden will weigh in on these questions, based on White House calculations of the political risk. During his years as vice president, Biden talked of new directions in nuclear policy. But heightened concerns about China and Russia would seem to improve the political leverage of Republicans seeking to portray such change as a gift to nuclear adversaries.
Russia became a more urgent focus of Biden’s attention after President Vladimir Putin in recent weeks sent an estimated 100,000 troops to positions near Ukraine’s border and demanded U.S. security guarantees. Biden and Putin discussed Ukraine by phone on Thursday, and senior American and Russian officials are scheduled to follow up with more detailed talks in Geneva on Jan. 9-10.
Tom Z. Collina, policy director at Ploughshares Fund, an advocate for nuclear disarmament, says the China and Russia problems complicate the politics of Biden’s nuclear review but should not stop him from acting to reduce nuclear dangers.
“We do not want a new nuclear arms race with either nation and the only way to prevent that is with diplomacy,” Collina said. “We must remember the main lesson we learned in the Cold War with Russia — the only way to win an arms race is not to run.”
In March, in what the White House called interim national security guidance, Biden said China and Russia had changed “the distribution of power across the world.”
“Both Beijing and Moscow have invested heavily in efforts meant to check U.S. strengths and prevent us from defending our interests and allies around the world,” the guidance said. Biden pledged to counter with actions to strength the United States at home, repair its alliances abroad and elevate the role of diplomacy. Nuclear weapons were mentioned only briefly.
“We will take steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy,” the guidance said without offering details, while also ensuring a safe and reliable U.S. nuclear force and seeking arms control opportunities.
Since then, worries about China and Russia have only increased. Private satellite imagery revealed last summer that China was building large numbers of new underground silos for nuclear missiles, and in November a Pentagon report said China may quadruple the size of its nuclear stockpile by 2030.
“Because of what China has done, it has really changed the complexion of this review,” says Robert Soofer, who was the Pentagon’s top nuclear policy official during the Trump administration and led a 2018 nuclear review.
“Rather than it being a review that examines reducing the role of nuclear weapons and even eliminating a leg of the triad, now they’ve been obliged to basically stay the course and determine how to tweak it at the margins.”
In June, even before the latest Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, the Pentagon’s policy chief, Colin Kahl, said the outlook for U.S. nuclear policy was colored not only by China’s nuclear ambitions but also by “real anxiety” among U.S. allies in Europe over Russian defense and nuclear policy.
“And so, obviously Russia is the wolf closest to the shed as it relates to the nuclear issue, but close behind is China’s desire to grow their nuclear arsenal, both quantitatively and qualitatively,” Kahl said June 23 at a nuclear policy conference sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Kahl did not preview the policy review outcome, but he said it is intended to fit inside a broader defense strategy, which also is to be published early in 2022.
The Pentagon has not publicly discussed details of the nuclear review, but the administration seems likely to keep the existing contours of the nuclear force — the traditional “triad” of sea-, air- and land-based weapons, which critics call overkill. It also may embrace a $1 trillion-plus modernization of that force, which was launched by the Obama administration and continued by Trump.
It’s unclear whether Biden will approve any significant change in what is called “declaratory policy,” which states the purpose of nuclear weapons and the circumstances under which they might be used.
The Obama administration, with Biden as vice president, stated in 2010 that it would “only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.” It did not define “extreme circumstances.”
Eight years later, the Trump administration restated the Obama policy but got more specific. “Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks. Significant non-nuclear strategic attacks include, but are not limited to, attacks on the U.S., allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”
Some believed that Biden as president would go a different direction, following his own advice on a “no first use” pledge. He said in a January 2017 speech: “Given our non-nuclear capabilities and the nature of today’s threats, it’s hard to envision a plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States would be necessary, or make sense.”
But some argue that China and Russia this year have changed “today’s threats,” perhaps keeping Biden on a cautious path.
Israeli officials believe the missiles to have been launched by the Islamic Jihad group.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency01/03/2022 3:30 PM
(JTA) — Israel launched an airstrike on Gaza early Sunday morning after missiles launched from the Gaza strip Saturday landed in the Mediterranean off the coast of Tel Aviv and the Israeli city of Palmachim.
Israeli officials believe the missiles to have been launched by the Islamic Jihad group and not by Hamas, the group which rules Gaza and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and other countries.
But Israel’s army held Hamas responsible for the breach of the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, which has largely held since the most recent hostilities in May.
“Hamas is responsible and bears the consequences for all activity in and emanating from the Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement, according to The Times of Israel.
Israeli tanks attacked a Hamas outpost in the northern part of the Gaza Strip in addition to the airstrike.
While it is unclear exactly what prompted the rocket launch from Gaza, the fate of a Palestinian hunger striker in an Israeli prisoncould lead to further tensions. Hisham Abu Hawash has been on a hunger strike for over 130 days and his condition is reported to be worsening.
The rocket fire and airstrike came just one day after an attempted stabbing Friday near the Israeli settlement of Ariel and a few days after an Israeli man was shot and lightly injured while working at a site on the border between Israel and Gaza. The man, a defense contractor, was performing maintenance work on Israel’s border fence. Israeli tanks attacked Hamas military posts and returned fire after the shooting, injuring three Palestinians.
By Shira Hanau