Monday, December 03, 2012

On Shaky Ground

Well, I was going to post something about our new house, but then we had a pretty large earthquake this afternoon, so I thought I would post about that instead. Of course, we get earthquakes pretty frequently here, but this was the largest I have felt since the 7.9 Denali Fault Earthquake in 2002. And that one was pretty far away, so not much happened.

This earthquake was a 5.8, so it was enough to knock a bunch of stuff over in the kitchen and the living room, including my nativity scene. I came home to find that one of the wise men, Mary and Joseph were all literally lying down on the job. Ethan suffered a minor panic attack when he found out the coffee pot was broken, but then he found the tea bags and his hope was restored. Still, hard times have fallen on the household, at least until he can get a new coffeemaker tomorrow.

You may not know this, but Alaska was the site of the largest earthquake in recorded North American history, and one of the largest quakes in the world: the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, a 9.2M. Whole portions of Anchorage slid into Cook Inlet. Tsunamis destroyed Valdez and Seward. Cracks in the earth opened and closed, eating childrens' shoes and people's trumpets (true stories!). But what gets me is that it lasted for almost five minutes! Five minutes! Imagine that -- you can't even stand up or walk outside for five whole minutes. Terrifying. Anyway, whenever there's a quake, I think, "What if this is it? What if this is The Big One?" Fortunately, they've done a lot to prepare Anchorage, so when my building was rocking and rolling like a sailboat on a hurricane-tossed sea, I knew that's what it was supposed to do, and I wasn't (too) freaked out.

The Turnagain Arm subdivision after the Good Friday Quake (wikipedia).

I think the one thing I've found most disappointing about earthquakes is that my pets have been total prediction failures. You often hear about animals behaving strangely just before an earthquake -- it is a well-known phenomenon, and I've had friends who've experienced it. Except in our house, where our animals are too darn lazy to get off the couch, even when the earthquake is happening. People like to say "If your pet starts acting strange, get out of the house". But with my cat, that would have meant I would have been outside at all the wrong times. And with Fievel, well, I think a giant beam would have to fall from the ceiling before he'd do anything. And only then if it landed near the couch.


Carlw4514 said...

The only earthquake I ever experienced [except tremors] was that last VA one. I was unprepared for how long it lasted and also the phenomenon of getting stronger and stronger as it went on. That last bit was a real surprise.

Saw an interesting documentary on the quake after the Civil War that hit portions of MO and Ark. and sent the Miss. River flowing backwards. This time the 'length of time thing' was in the after shocks, which went on for weeks and IIRC months! People were going insane and actually moved away from the area, unable to take any more.

Your '64 quake was a contender for biggest recorded earthquake ever, after looking at that again. Only two bigger ever recorded.

Uncle C

PS: just went trough the worst proving-not-a-bot ever! Can't they put out tests that are readable!!?

L said...

I've read about the New Madrid quake. Back in the 90s, someone was saying they're due for another one, so there was a bunch of media hype for a while. Of course, "due" in geological time could mean almost anything.

I know, the not-a-bot tests are getting worse and worse. But I was getting a lot of robots before I enacted them.