HAZARDS

hazards

Geoscience on Film: Revisiting an earthquake-ravaged region, one year on

Doug Prose and Diane LaMacchia have produced documentaries showcasing Earth and the geosciences since 1992. At work on a project delving into the complex interplay of tectonics, natural hazards and humanity in the Himalayan region, LaMacchia and Prose traveled to Nepal and Bhutan in June to investigate recovery and resilience in the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. Prose wrote about their recent experiences while there, and filed the following series of posts upon returning home.

24 Jun 2016

Bringing geoscience to bear on the problem of abandoned mines

With 3 million gallons of acidic, heavy-metal-laden water behind an earthen plug at high elevation, Colorado’s Gold King Mine was, literally, a situation just waiting to go downhill. The blowout last August shone a spotlight on the larger problem of abandoned mine lands. What role do geoscientists play in solving it?

19 Jun 2016

Geomedia: Television: 'NOVA' for the earth science enthusiast

“NOVA,” the weekly prime-time science series that airs on PBS, is known for producing high-quality TV documentaries on subjects ranging from espionage and the military to ancient civilizations and nature. Naturally, much “NOVA” programming touches on topics in geoscience, so we decided to review several recent hour-long episodes that might be of particular interest to our readers.

15 Jun 2016

Geomedia: Books: 'Floodpath' recounts the deadly collapse of California's St. Francis Dam

The catastrophic collapse of the St. Francis Dam, located 80 kilometers north of downtown Los Angeles and east of the town of Santa Clarita, just before midnight on March 12, 1928, claimed more than 400 lives when towering floodwaters destroyed homes, bridges and farmland, as they swept through downstream communities. The disaster was initially blamed on the failure of the west abutment, anchored in soft conglomerate rock. Additional studies have revised this explanation, with recent research citing other geologic and design factors that likely contributed. Regardless, the collapse effectively ended the career of William Mulholland, the self-taught engineer whose 1913 Owens Valley Aqueduct made the explosive growth of Los Angeles possible. Yet, despite the magnitude of the disaster and its impact on local and national policy, it has been almost entirely forgotten, except by a few historians.

08 Jun 2016

Dating of landslides around Oso reveals recurring patterns

On March 22, 2014, after a period of heavy rain, a hillside near the town of Oso, Wash., collapsed, sending 7.6 million cubic meters of mud and debris across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, destroying a rural neighborhood and killing 43 people. The slide took Oso residents by surprise, but scientists say the event was not altogether unexpected, as evidence for dozens of past landslides can be found throughout the Stillaguamish River Valley. New research suggests that large slides have occurred in the Oso vicinity even more frequently than previously suspected.

07 Jun 2016

Surprise quake at Mount Fuji triggered by rising gases

On March 15, 2011, four days after the magnitude-9 Tohoku megathrust earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, a magnitude-5.9 earthquake shook the southern flank of Mount Fuji. Seismicity has been rare at the volcano since its last eruption in 1707, leading many researchers to suspect that the Fuji quake — which hit about 300 kilometers southwest of the megaquake — was remotely triggered by the Tohoku event. In a new study, scientists looking at the volcano’s underlying structure and plumbing have offered a potential mechanism for how Tohoku’s shaking could have touched off the Fuji earthquake: through rising gas-rich fluids released from the magma chamber beneath the volcano.

27 May 2016

Double trouble: Volcanic eruption leads to strong earthquake eight months later

In January 2002, Nyiragongo Volcano erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, killing more than 100 people. Eight months later and 19 kilometers to the south, a magnitude-6.2 earthquake shook the Lake Kivu region, partially destroying the town of Kalehe. Now, scientists have determined that the two events were linked, and their results highlight a newly observed trigger for strong earthquakes near active volcanoes.

24 May 2016

Comment: Assessing the threat from massive rock slope failures in the Norwegian fjordlands

Records dating back to the Vikings describe large rock avalanches into Norwegian fjords that set off lethal displacement waves. Today, increased development and tourism are exacerbating the risk.

21 May 2016

Buried sands tell of tsunami hazard from creeping megathrust fault

A slow-moving portion of the Alaska-Aleutian Mega­thrust Fault near Alaska’s Dutch Harbor appears more capable of generating sizable tsunamis than previously thought, according to a new study.

20 May 2016

The most dangerous fault in America

Running through densely populated cities like Oakland, Fremont and Berkeley, Calif., and not far from San Francisco, San Jose and Silicon Valley is a dangerous fault that could rupture at any time. It’s known as the Hayward Fault, and when it goes, it will likely produce a devastating earthquake.

18 May 2016

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