Earthquake Weather

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Earthquake and Plate Tectonics Earthquakes around the world at 23:01:14 GMT on July 7, 1999. Data from National Earthquake Information Center. Chart from IRIS Consortium, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Colorado, Reel Illusions, Inc., and the University of Washington. Chart modified for web use. Earthquakes that have occurred within the last 24 hours are shown in red circles. The circles fade through orange to yellow within 15 days. Green squares are 15-30 days, and light purple squares are 30 days to 5 years. The distribution of seismicity over the past 5 years demonstrates how earthquakes define the boundaries of tectonic plates. The green/yellow “ball” is a magnitude 5.1 event of July 3, 1999, located 5 mil

I’ve been watching the devastation in Japan on the TV news, along with reading about the gruesome earthquake in the newspaper. Some of the shocking film, as well as many of the still pictures of Japan’s ravaged landscape, is reminiscent of startling shots from a horrifying science fiction film. Comparable to the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, I’m almost certain this staggering incident will go down in infamy as the “Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.”

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which occurred on Friday, March 11, off the coast of Japan, was the biggest earthquake ever recorded in Japan’s celebrated history, plus one the five greatest earthquakes ever recorded on earth. To date there are almost 14,000 confirmed as dead; and, as of my writing this, there are over 14,000 people still missing. The earthquake, along with the tsunami aftermath that followed it, is now expected to cost around $309 billion dollars, making it the most expensive natural disaster in world history.

This tragic event is almost certainly the most devastating incident to happen in Japan since the atomic bomb was dropped on them more than 65 years ago. They had to deal with the horror of radiation then; and, now with the danger from the two Fukushima nuclear power plants — they just might have to deal with that uncontrollable peril once again!

I’ve heard some imprudent people say this tragedy was an act of God. I’ve even heard some tactless people claiming it was pay back for Pearl Harbor. Come on! This catastrophe was no act of God: it was merely an act of Mother Nature. And, after this, we should all take heed just how fragile life on planet earth can actually be. I’m sure that Japan will pull through; but, it will take a lot of time, stacks of money — together with a copious amount of courage.

When I was taking classes for my undergraduate degree in anthropology, I took some courses in geography; where I learned about plate tectonics and the causes of earthquakes. I also discovered that faults are almost everywhere on the planet, and that earthquakes are typically triggered by a sudden slippage on a fault. They can also be set off by volcanic activity: when magma rises or recedes in a volcanic chamber. Just take a look at a map showing the locations and centers of earthquakes around the world. You can immediately see that earthquakes are prevalent along the coast lines of most countries.

Moreover, I just finished reading that by living in Los Angeles we have about a 50 percent chance of experiencing a major earthquake within the next 30 years. When I think about it rationally, the whole earthquake thing is somewhat scary… It now seems as if living in LA is much like playing a protracted game of Russian roulette. I’m not suggesting we all move to Arizona; but I do feel we should all be prepared — for what someday terribly soon just could go down.

In 1987, I worked as a faculty instructor for LAUSD, where I taught first aid together with earthquake preparedness. At that time every school in the district was required to have people on staff trained for this type of major catastrophe. Schools were also required to have a big blue rubber canister filled with crucial stores. These fundamental and essential supplies should include: food and water provisions, warm clothing, plus some basic tools — like a wrench to turn off gas lines, along with first aid materials.

For your very own good: I would like to convince all my readers to also put together some of these necessary items in a sturdy heavy-duty container. What’s more, try to remember the most important item in a first aid kit is a pair of scissors… So, always keep a pair handy. With scissors you can make bandages, splints, ties, holders and an assortment of other usages…

To donate to Japan relief, visit www.unicefusa.org/japan or www.redcross.org.

Kevin McKenna is an award winning writer/filmmaker, a social scientist, along with the Executive Director of IDEAS (Investigative Documentaries Educating American Society). If you have any comments, ideas or need more information on how you can help or contribute, call him at (818) 588-3047 or email ideasfilm@charter.net.

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