Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The invisible engine that made Hurricane Harvey worse

[Popular Science] Tuesday's weather forecast for Southeast Texas—or, as the National Weather Service is now calling it, the “flash flood ravaged areas of the upper Texas coast"—predicts six to twelve inches of rain.
Hurricane Harvey, which has inundated the region since late last week, is back from its brief dalliance in the Gulf of Mexico. While away, it renewed its strength and picked up even more rain. Today's deluge adds to the 20, 30, and 49 inches of rain that have fallen across the region in the days since Thursday, toppling existing records as part of what some are calling a one in 500 year flood.
It’s hard to watch this disaster unfold without asking how such scales of destruction are even possible. And it’s hard not to answer that question without considering climate change, the hidden factor that has made Harvey much worse than it could have been.
NASA and the National Oceanographic Institute (NOAA) describe tropical cyclones like Hurricane Harvey as “engines that require moist air as fuel.” That need for heat is why the Atlantic hurricane season stretches from June through November. Tropical cyclones only form over ocean waters that maintain a temperature of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 165 feet below the surface, and that’s the time of year when the Atlantic Ocean is most likely to be so warm. Just add wind, and you've got yourself a hurricane.
But warmer waters don’t just make hurricanes more likely to form—they also make them more severe. And it's here where we can see the fingerprints of climate change on Harvey.
“For every degree centigrade the ocean surface heats up, you get about a seven percent increase in water vapor in the atmosphere,” says James Masters, the director of meteorology for Weather Underground.
“In the Gulf of Mexico, where Harvey drew its strength from, the temperature was about a degree centigrade above average for this time of year,” he explains. “And a great part of that extra heat energy was due to the fact that this year, the planet as a whole is experiencing its second warmest year on record.” Read More

Earthquakes Can Happen in More Places Than You Think

[ National Geographic] Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.
In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America's Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks. 
When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”
What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know. 
One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places. Read More

6 Strange Signs Your Soul Reincarnated From A Past Life

[Alternative Daily] Have you ever looked into the eyes of a stranger and felt an instant connection? Have you ever wondered why you’re claustrophobic, or have a fear of heights? The answer could stem from a past life. In fact, it’s commonly believed that many of our personal characteristics, experiences and even skills are closely linked to another life lived on earth. But how do you know for sure that your soul has reincarnated from a past life? These six signs may prove you likely have.
Reincarnation is the belief that when you die, your soul moves into a new body. Some believe this is an absolute truth, others are skeptical. However, according to psychotherapist Dr. Brian L. Weiss, author “Many Lives Many Masters” and Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, everyone reincarnates.
“I think everybody reincarnates because we have many lessons to learn, lessons about love, compassion, charity, nonviolence, inner peace, patience, etc.,” suggests Dr. Weiss. “It would be hard to learn them all in only one life. Also, some people come back voluntarily to help others.”
Theories exist as to why reincarnation happens, but no one really knows for sure. That said, here are some of the signs that you may have reincarnated:
One of the most common signs of a past life is déjà vu, suggests Dr. Weiss. Déjà vu is the sensation that you have met a person before or have visited someplace previously. This feeling may be a sign of a past life experience with a particular person or in a specific place. Additionally, certain smells, tastes and sounds may seem extremely familiar, causing flashbacks to another place and time.
Have you ever experienced dreams so detailed and so vivid that they stay with you for years? Dreaming about certain places, people and times could be a glimpse of your past life locked deep within your memory. Often dreams are more than just fantasies; they may actually be a memory fragment from a past life. Recurring dreams, or dreams with common themes, may also indicate your soul has been reincarnated. Read More

The Key to Drought-Tolerant Crops May Be In The Leaves

[WeatherNation] A solution to help farmers to grow crops in dry areas or during stretches of drought may depend on breeding and cultivating plants that protect themselves with a thicker layer of leaf wax, a new study shows. Sarah Feakins, a scientist at USC who has studied leaf wax in the context of climate change, teamed up recently with researchers at Texas A&M University to research and develop drought-resistant crops. During tests with growing winter wheat, a type harvested for yeast-based breads and other such products, the team found that the cultivars in a high and dry area of Texas generated more protective wax on their leaves as a measure to protect themselves against more extreme conditions.
The results mimicked what scientists have found in leaves in natural ecosystems: Those that survive in dry climates have higher concentrations of wax. “Water conservation depends on innovation, and in this case, we are hoping to find one solution by identifying the traits in this important food crop that would enable the wheat plants to tolerate drought and still produce plenty for harvest,” said Feakins, a co-lead author of the study and an associate professor of earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The study was published in the journal Organic Geochemistry on Aug. 14.
All plants produce wax that helps their leaves repel water and shield the plant from insects and the elements, said Feakins, who has studied climate history of the Earth through the geochemistry of leaf wax in sediments.
Feakins said this latest study marks the first time she has applied her expertise to agricultural production. The United States is currently the top exporter of wheat in the world, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. Winter wheat is largely grown for bread products and ingredients, such as all-purpose flour. For the study, the researchers grew test plots of winter wheat in two different areas of Texas: the high plains of Amarillo and a farming area known as Winter Garden, Uvalde.
At each location, scientists grew 10 cultivars, or plant varieties, of winter wheat that received regular irrigation and another 10 cultivars that received 13 percent to 25 percent less irrigation. The team compared the leaf wax of all the plots to gauge their drought tolerance. The plot set to receive 25 percent less irrigation in Winter Garden ended up receiving 13 percent less because of greater-than-expected rainfall. But a similar plot grown with 25 percent less water in the most arid area, Amarillo, generated 50 percent more paraffin on its leaves than the other cultivars in all the other plots, which enabled the plants to tolerate their dry conditions. Read More

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tropical Storm Harvey unleashes historic flooding in Houston area

[Chron] Tropical Storm Harvey officially became Houston's worst storm on record overnight, dumping heavy rains across the city and into overflowing bayous, leaving swaths of the city submerged in floodwater.
"It's catastrophic, unprecedented, epic -- whatever adjective you want to use," said Patrick Blood, a NWS meteorologist. "It's pretty horrible right now."
The federal government declared Harris County a disaster area Sunday morning, Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee said, calling the scope of damage in Houston "enormous." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said boats and helicopters were being deployed to help with rescues. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett estimated there were more than 1,000 water rescues so far.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown will be open for people who need shelter. He urged people to stay home, and stay calm.
"We will get to you, and we will get through this," he said.
Houston Independent School District officials cancelled school for the whole week.
Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital stopped accepting patients Sunday morning because it had essentially become an island, Emmett said. The Texas Medical Center was impassible in many places.
City officials tweeted early Sunday morning that the 911 system was at capacity, urging people to shelter in place if they can. "Only call if in imminent danger."
On Twitter, people begged for help. "Parents and 4 children need rescuing!" someone tweeted from the I-45 and Edgebrook area. "Blowing up mattress for last case scenario."
We're all under water out here," said Jonell Soto, the wife of South Houston mayor, Joe Soto. The couple was in an 18-wheeler on Sunday morning trying to reach Joe Soto's 87-year-old mother, who lives on Indiana Street in South Houston. "It's just crazy out here," she said. Read More

SEED: The Untold Story (Official Theatrical Trailer)

More Evidence Exxon Misled the Public About Climate Change

[Wired] Two years ago, Inside Climate News and Los Angeles Times investigations found that while Exxon Mobil internally acknowledged that climate change is man-made and serious, it publicly manufactured doubt about the science. Exxon has been trying unsuccessfully to smother this slow-burning PR crisis ever since, arguing the findings were “deliberately cherry picked statements.” But the company’s problems have grown to include probes of its business practices by the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general and the Securities and Exchange Commission.Now, science historian Naomi Oreskes and Harvard researcher Geoffrey Supran have published the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis of Exxon’s climate communications that adds more heft to these charges. Exxon dared the public to “read all of these documents and make up your own mind,” in a company blog post in 2015. The new paper, “Assessing ExxonMobil’s Climate Change Communications,” in the journal Environmental Research Letters, takes up the challenge. Oreskes and Supran systematically analyze nearly 40 years of Exxon’s scientific research, reports, internal documents, and advertisements, and find a deep disconnect between how the company directly communicated climate change and its internal memos and scientific studies.
“The issue of taking things out of context or cherry-picking data is an important one, and one all historians and journalists deal with,” Oreskes tells Mother Jones. “When Exxon Mobil accuses journalists of cherry-picking, there is a way we can address that; there are analyses we can do to avoid these issues. Well, if you think the LA Times is cherry-picking [examples], we’ll look at all of them. Nobody can say we are selecting things out of context.”
Their content analysis examines how 187 company documents treated climate change from 1977 through 2014. Researchers found that of the documents that address the causes of climate change, 83 percent of its peer-reviewed scientific literature and 80 percent of its internal documents said it was real and man-made, while the opposite was true of the ads. The researchers analyzed ads published in the New York Times between 1989 and 2004. In those ads, 81 percent expressed doubt about the scientific consensus, tending to emphasize the “uncertainty’ and “knowledge gap,” while just 12 percent affirmed the science.
The same pattern holds for how Exxon has addressed the seriousness of the consequences of climate change. Read More

Friday, August 25, 2017

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew Hinted at Climate Change Disasters to Come

Newsweek published this story under the headline “Was Andrew a Freak -- Or a Preview of Things to Come" on September 7, 1992. As the 25th anniversary of the hurricane is this month, Newsweek is republishing the story.
[Newsweek] They're called hundred-year storms because they strike with a fury so enormous that meteorologists figure they can't come around more than once a century. Why have the past three years seen both Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Hugo, which smacked into South Carolina in 1989 and was rated a 4 on the 5-point scale measuring storm intensity? And what about Gilbert, which ravaged Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in 1988 and was rated a 5? It might be a horrible coincidence. Or it might be a harbinger. One predicted consequence of the greenhouse effect—a global warming caused by the release into the atmosphere of such heat-trapping gases as carbon dioxide and methane—is that we will have more severe storms. If the climatologists' computer models are right, a hurricane that would otherwise have rated a 3 would be whipped up to an Andrew-size 5. "[We could see] a 50-percent increase in the destructive potential" of the most powerful tropical storms, says meteorologist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Extra heat turns up the intensity of a storm by strengthening all the forces that shape it. Water vapor, rising and cooling and releasing heat into the air, is the engine that drives a hurricane, says climatologist Jerry Mahlman of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The warmer the ocean, the more water evaporates; the warmer the air, the more water vapor it can hold. "[More moisture] would feed energy into the storms, and they would increase" in size and severity, says atmospheric physicist Michael Oppenheimer of the Environmental Defense Fund. And since the greenhouse effect is expected to warm the oceans by at least 2 or 3 degrees, the area of tropical ocean that is warm enough to spawn a hurricane "will almost certainly spread out," says Mahlman. Places that hurricanes seldom hit may become targets. Read More

Seed Saving

When I first heard about the idea of patenting a seed, or any kind of plant, I was absolutely horrified and I thought, surely that’ll never be allowed. You can’t own nature.”—Jane Goodall
[Pacific Sun] While recently attending Grass Valley’s fabulous Wild & Scenic Film Festival (January 12-16), I had the chance to see the latest documentary from Collective Eye Films entitled SEED: The Untold Story. This is another visually gorgeous and informative film directed and produced by Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz, the Emmy-nominated, award-winning team that produced Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? and The Real Dirt on Farmer John. SEED tells the story of independent farmers globally who are fighting the immense political and corporate power of chemical companies that now control the majority of our food.
Here’s the scoop: Twelve thousand years ago humans discovered agriculture by doing something as simple as saving seeds. A vast variety of seeds were passed down and propagated from generation to generation, farmer to farmer, garden geek to garden geek. These heirloom seeds were open-pollinated so they could be saved and planted year after year, producing new generations of plants.
Today, there are seeds created in biotech labs and patented by multinational corporations who believe they have the right to own agriculture. Often these genetically modified seeds are treated with pesticides and herbicides. They cannot be saved and replanted. National Geographic reports that up to 96 percent of the vegetable seeds that were available in 1903 have disappeared. In less than a century of industrial agriculture, our once abundant seed diversity from family farms and gardens has plummeted to a group of mass-produced varieties created by 10 agrichemical companies (with Syngenta, Bayer and Monsanto being at the top of my evildoer list).
SEED explores the history of agriculture and how today’s farmers are struggling to keep seed diversity alive. Throughout the film you’ll be introduced to seed savers, scientists, botanists, farmers and indigenous communities who are fighting battles against large chemical companies that now control the majority of food. Our ancestors worshipped and treasured the magic of seeds since the dawn of humankind. A seed is a tiny time capsule holding genetic data from our past. It was planted, saved and passed on to the next generation for food. A tiny seed may appear insignificant, but its downstream potential is truly profound. Maintaining diversity in our seed stock is crucial to our survival. Read More

Bulletproof your Immune System with These Herbs

[Core Spirit] Not many would deny the fact that a strong and vibrant immune system is essential to one’s overall health. Yet how many really know how to strengthen, enhance, and tune -up their immune system on a daily basis in order to keep it running properly? Waiting until illness strikes to boost the immune system can be somewhat helpful, but it’s still missing the mark.
Amazonian shamans, traditional Ayurvedic medical practitioners from India, and doctors who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine figured out how to enhance the immune system thousands of years ago, without adverse side effects. Now you can take advantage of this ancient healing wisdom and bulletproof your immune system prior to an unexpected health crisis.

In the 1940’s the Russian scientist Dr. Nikolai Lazarev coined the term adaptogen. He defined adaptogens as “agents which help an organism to counteract any adverse effects of a physical, chemical or biological stressor by generating nonspecific resistance.”
In order to be considered an adaptogen, an agent must be non-toxic and exert a broad non-specific supportive influence on the body. Its primary job is to gently move the body in the direction of homeostasis, normalization of function, or into a state of dynamic balance where optimal health is realized. They are considered tonics that can safely be taken like food on a daily basis and used for long periods of time without harm.
Adaptogens “strengthen the immune, nervous, and glandular system, increase metabolic efficiency and reduce susceptibility to illness and disease.” One of the primary actions of adaptogens is their ability to bolster the body’s defense system, while helping the body counteract chronic stress. Adaptogens also act to strengthen the nervous system thus enhancing the mind body connection.
“Our health and well being can be defined as a state of balance between the body, mind and spirit. In fact, many traditional systems of medicine define it this way.” An important fact is that most adaptogens have immunomodulating or immunostimulating properties. “Immunomodulators, are also referred to as immune amphoterics, and these herbs possess the ability to modulate, regulate and normalize immune function.” Read More

All You Need To Know About Spiritualism VS Religion

[Bayside Journal] Can you be spiritual without having religious beliefs or belonging to any particular religious sect? How do spiritual and religious beliefs differ and how are the two sometimes tied together? This article discusses my views on the role of spirituality versus the role of religious beliefs as well as the similarities and differences of the two.
Both spirituality and religion aim to take an individual towards the ultimate goal of life. The distinction between the two is a fine line of perspective. One needs to have a keen eye for exploration to see what is the difference between the psychology of religion and spirituality. A religion does so by spoon feeding the individual. Religion gives the person set guidelines and asks him/her to follow. Often, religious beliefs instill fear of God in you and make you do things without questioning them. Spirituality is worship of self as it believes God resides in you and nowhere outside. The reasons to do so, often remain unexplained. On the other hand, spirituality is an individual experience of the encompassing effect. A spiritual person finds his own way, travels it alone and reaches there in a state of euphoria. Following a religion is doing a duty, whereas being spiritual is being who you are.
It is possible to have personal spiritual beliefs and religious ones at the same time; very often they go hand in hand. Many times these two types of beliefs serve the same purpose. The important difference between the two types of beliefs is at their source. Religious beliefs are based on second-hand information, in a very real sense, information and beliefs become traditional, passed on through Scripture, proselytizing and popular media. Spiritual beliefs, in contrast, are developed individually and quite often deal with issues of a more personal or intimate nature than those addressed by religious doctrine. Read More

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Scientists are solving the mystery of Earth’s thermostat

[Popular Science] Life on Earth has survived vast changes in climate, from a warm period 450 million years ago, when most of the present-day United States was underwater, to the last ice age 20,000 years ago, when New England was buried beneath a mile-thick glacier. Though climate change triggered mass extinctions, life went on.
This is something of mystery. Runaway climate change turned Venus into a scorching hellscape, but Earth never grew so hot or cold that life failed to endure. Even in its most turbulent moments, our tiny planet remained a refuge, a blue-green lifeboat adrift against the vast hostility of space. Why?
Scientists have long speculated on the possibility of a planetary thermostat keeping climate change in check. A new study published in the journal Geochemical Perspectives Letters provides the first-ever evidence of its existence.
“If you a dissolve a rock in water — rain water, river water — that process takes CO2 out of the atmosphere and puts it in the water as bicarbonate. That goes from the rivers into the ocean,” said Pogge von Strandmann. Once in the ocean, the bicarbonate combines with calcium to form limestone. “That locks up the carbon dioxide,” he said.
The global thermostat responds to hot and cold. Heat speeds up chemical reactions, causing rocks and rainwater to draw down carbon dioxide levels more rapidly, thereby cooling the planet faster. Cold temperatures slow down this process, preventing the planet from getting too chilly.
The carbon dioxide trapped in limestone will eventually return to the atmosphere. Limestone will be drawn under the Earth’s crust by the movement of tectonic plates and become part of the Earth’s mantle. Eventually, carbon dioxide will be separated from the limestone and expelled into the sky through volcanic eruptions.
During warm periods, weathering removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere faster than volcanoes can build it up. This causes the total volume of carbon dioxide to go down, cooling the planet. During cold periods, volcanoes add carbon dioxide faster than it can be removed, warming the planet. For decades, scientists believed this to be the case, but they lacked the evidence.
“The climate must be relatively constrained. It can’t change too much, otherwise life would go extinct,” according to Philip Pogge von Strandmann, a geochemist at University College London and lead author of the study. “There must be some mechanism that prevents the climate from going completely crazy.”
That mechanism is something called the “weathering thermostat.” Here’s how it works: Carbon dioxide traps heat, keeping the Earth nice and cozy. A dip in CO2 can bring about an ice age. A spike can make the planet sizzle. Earth regulates this greenhouse gas through weathering. Atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in rainwater and combines with rocks to form bicarbonate. Read More

Extreme Weather Is Threatening Museums Around the Globe. Here’s What They’re Doing About It.

[Artnet] The Bass Museum in Miami Beach does not think about collecting the same way it did two years ago.
Situated in a region where sea level rise has tripled over the past decade and located a short walk from rapidly eroding beaches, the Bass has been forced to reckon with climate change more directly than most museums. “Do we feel comfortable purchasing a very humidity-sensitive watercolor for our collection? Or a light-sensitive black-and-white photograph?” George Lindemann, the president of the museum’s board, asked in a recent conversation with artnet News. “Probably not.”
The Bass isn’t alone. As scientists report increasingly troubling findings about the expected rise in extreme weather around the globe, from droughts in southern Europe to floods on the east coast of the US, a growing number of institutions are realizing that they need to start planning for an uncertain future today. As New York magazine reported recently in a terror-inducing article, most scientists concur that Miami will be underwater within the century, whether or not we stop burning fossil fuel.
“When I worked on Guggenheim Bilbao, we all mocked the requirement to accommodate the 100-year storm,” says Andy Klemmer, the founder of the Paratus Group, which manages the construction of cultural projects around the world. “Since then, 100-year storms seem to come along every five years…. Every project we work on now tries to predict the worst-case scenario and to accommodate it.” Read More

NASA's plan to defuse Yellowstone's continent-killing super volcano

[NY Post] NASA believes the Yellowstone super volcano is a greater threat to life on Earth than any asteroid. So it has come up with a plan to defuse its explosive potential.
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. It’s an untouched wilderness. It’s overflowing with scenic landscapes. And its colorful hot pools and geysers attract tens of thousands of visitors every year.
But underneath this beautiful — but thin — skin is a lurking monster.
An enormous pool of magma sits high in the Earth’s crust. It’s been calculated to contain about 60 billion cubic miles of molten rock.
“I was a member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense which studied ways for NASA to defend the planet from asteroids and comets,” Brian Wilcox of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) told the BBC. “I came to the conclusion during that study that the super volcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.”
There are about 20 known super volcanoes on Earth, NASA says. A major eruption occurs about once every 100,000 years. And these odds are much higher than a repeat of an Earth-changing comet impact of the type that wiped out the dinosaurs.
So NASA tasked a team with figuring out how to prevent one.
The Jet Propulsion Labs team calculated that a super volcano on the brink of eruption would have to be cooled some 35 percent.
They propose to do this by pricking the super volcano’s surface, to let off steam.
But this in itself poses risks.
Drill too deep, and the vent could cause an explosive depressurization that might set off the exact kind of eruption the scientists were trying to avoid.
Instead, the NASA scientists propose drilling a 5-mile-deep hole into the hydrothermal water below and to the sides of the magma chamber. These fluids, which form Yellowstone’s famous heat pools and geysers, already drain some 60 to 70 percent of the heat from the magma chamber below.
NASA proposes that, in an emergency, this enormous body of heated water can be injected with cooler water, extracting yet more heat.
This could prevent the super volcano’s magma from reaching the temperature at which it would erupt.
Such a project could cost in excess of $3.5 billion. But it’s nothing like the reconstruction cost of digging two-thirds of the continental United States out from under mountains of volcanic ash. Read More

Alaska at Risk of a Massive Earthquake and Tsunami Similar to Devastating 2011 Japan Event

[Newsweek] In 2011, a megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan produced a huge tsunami that killed over 15,000 people. The 9.0 magnitude quake was so big it shifted the Earth’s axis and moved the coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island, by 8 feet.
Scientists now say a similar earthquake could take place off the coast of Alaska, resulting in a dangerous tsunami that could devastate parts of the state and reach southerly parts of North America, Hawaii and beyond.
In a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, researchers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory created new, detailed maps of an area of the seafloor off Alaska called the Shumagin Gap. This is a creeping subduction zone at the end of the Alaska Peninsula, 600 miles from Anchorage.
Previously, scientists thought this area was fairly benign, steadily releasing tension as the plates moved slowly past one another. But this is not the case. Instead, the researchers found a geological structure similar to that seen at the site of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, suggesting this site could also slip suddenly and produce a huge tsunami.
The Tohoku earthquake took place at a creeping segment of the seafloor. It was thought that the frequent, small earthquakes at the site meant it could never build up enough tension to produce one large quake.
What scientists failed to realize was that part of the edge of the continental plate had become detached—and that this posed a major risk. A smaller earthquake dislodged the detached section, creating the huge earthquake and tsunami that followed. While scientists knew this fault existed, they did not understand the devastation it could cause.
In their study, researchers found a region of the Shumagin Gap that is detached in the same way. The fault they identified stretches about 90 miles roughly parallel to the land and extends over 20 miles down. The maps suggest the seafloor has dropped to one side and risen on the other. Researchers also found a cluster of seismic activity near where the new fault meets the plate boundary, indicating it is active. Read More