Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

To a Fault: The Bottom Line on Earthquakes

23.04.2008
The 5.2 earthquake that jolted area residents from their sleep on April 18 was a surprise to some, but not to researchers at the University of Cincinnati.

Although many people think that California “owns” all the earthquakes, Ohio also has its share of faults. Unlike another earthquake that woke people on another April 18, 102 years ago, this quake was fairly mild.

Two of UC’s earthquake experts have had extensive experiences with earthquakes. Attila Kilinc is a professor in the Department of Geology in the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences and G. A. Rassati is an assistant professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department in UC’s College of Engineering. Rassati just returned from presenting several seminars in Europe on structural engineering.

Rassati was inspired to become a structural engineer specializing in earthquakes after experiencing one as a child in Italy.

“I was four years old when a strong earthquake struck my region in Italy,” says Rassati. “I have a very strong memory of my Dad trying to get me out of my little bed but he couldn’t get to me. Earthquakes have always interested me ever since.” Rassati has studied the structural and seismic effects on infrastructures, especially buildings.

"Unfortunately, the money is drying up for earthquake research. I'm afraid it's going to take another big one to draw attention to that," says Rassati. "And we're overdue."

Q&A with Attila Kilinc

Q: How common are earthquakes in the Midwest and was the severity of this tremor a first for this area?

A: Between 1776 and the present, 170 earthquakes have been charted in Ohio of magnitude 2.0 or greater. There have been at least 150 below magnitude 2.0, which averages out to approximately 1½ earthquakes a year. This latest was not a first, severity-wise: Several others measured inbetween 5.3 and 5.4; in 1980, for example, an earthquake in Sharpsburg, Ky., measured 5.2.

Q: Can anyone predict a “big one” ever hitting the Midwest?
A: We haven’t reached that level of sophistication yet. That would require predicting, simultaneously, location, timing and magnitude, Kilinc says, “and that’s virtually impossible.” He adds that seismologists in San Francisco, may, however, say the probability of a magnitude 6 earthquake within the next 30 years is 50 percent.
Q: What is Cincinnati’s proximity to the nearest fault line?
A: Cincinnati is not on or close to a fault line, Kilinc says. The nearest active one is the New Madrid Fault Line, about 350 miles west of Cincinnati. The last major (7.5 or higher) New Madrid-line earthquake was in December 1811 and January 1812. The fault line actually closest to Cincinnati, Kilinc adds, is just south of Lexington, Ky., but it’s not currently active.
Q: People have commented that their dog or cat woke them up during this Midwest-based earthquake. Others say they’ve heard all their lives that animal behavior – and even illnesses of people – can predict an earthquake. How far back in history does such thinking go and is there any validity in it?

A: The U.S. Geological Survey says that references to unusual animal behavior before a significant earthquake date to 373 BC in Greece. Kilinc says that for many years, Chinese scientists in particular watched what they called precursors, such as animal behavior and radon in water, in terms of earthquake prediction. None of the signs they were watching for, he adds, showed up in Tangshan, China, on July 28, 1976. That’s the day an estimated 247,000 people died in China’s deadliest earthquake of the 20th century. Its magnitude was 7.8.

Q: For those who have been through a major earthquake in California, this has to seem like barely a rumble. Yet, for many Midwesterners, an earthquake can literally rattle the nerves! How seriously should we take such an occurrence and is there any preparation one can make for an earthquake?

A: Residents of any area should always be prepared for earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes and so forth, making logical preparations that are similar no matter the disaster. For example, if there’s a strong earthquake or tornado and electricity is lost, many people’s first reaction is to strike a match so they can see — and can cause an explosion in a gas line. Also, people tend to want to rush out of an area affected by an earthquake. Kilinc, a former California resident who’s been through many temblors in the Bay Area, says that most people are killed “trying to get in or out,” so staying put is important. Little things matter, too, such as not putting dangerous chemicals on upper shelves in a laundry room.

Q: Finally: Another widely spread urban legend claims that California will someday fall into the ocean. While that’s not going to happen, how long could it take, as the Pacific Plate moves, before Los Angeles is close to San Francisco?

A: California, Kilinc says, “will never fall into the ocean” because of a boundary called a transform fault. San Francisco will shift south and Los Angeles, north — but it will take a “long, long time” for them to meet. The USGS says that tectonic forces “in this part of the world are driving the Pacific Plate in a north-northwesterly direction with respect to the North American plate at approximately 46 millimeters per year in the San Francisco Bay Area."

Wendy Hart Beckman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uc.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas
11.12.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht What makes corals sick?
11.12.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>