Seismic Activity; Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Glaciers, and Drilling

Found some interesting articles about interrelationships regarding geological phenomena after the latest 8.8 earthquake in Chile. I’m posting the links that should present a logical pattern in order to incite some thought. Like I said after reading them, “Hmmmm?”

Did you know that earthquakes are related to volcanoes and caused by pressure, stress, and load build-up? Read:


Upheavals of land result from earthquakes and form mountain ranges or as stated in the previous link, volcanic mountain ranges tend to appear along faults.

Tectonic plates all relate to one another like a giant jigsaw puzzle comprising the earth’s crust. So pressure or a relatively quick release of pressure in one fault affects tectonic plates elsewhere. Huge glaciers that weigh billion of tons are rapidly melting and also affecting pressure on tectonic plates. Alaska’s coastlines are rising as a result of glaciers melting.

The last article stated some of Alaska’s wetlands are drying up because of the rise, think recent Alaskan wildfires.

Whenever tectonic plates move quickly they cause seismic waves that cause smaller tremors. Likewise glacier walls or peninsulas weighing billions that fall off into the sea produce seismic waves.

Seismic waves from melting glaciers may cause increased earthquakes in Alaska and we know there are volcanoes up there too. Notice this article is from 2004.

Small earthquakes caused from seismic waves from melting glaciers in Greenland.

Gathering any insight into tectonic plates worldwide and what affects them? We should consider the plates are a little more active due to accelerated glacier melt in both poles and some pretty big chunks crumbling into the sea. The latest jar in Antarctica came from an iceberg breaking off the size of Luxembourg the day before the big earthquake in Chile. And that was after another mammoth glacier hit the latest to break off earlier in the month. Hmmmm? Did that affect the earthquakes in Haiti or Chile.

So weight on the earth’s lithosphere affects tectonic plates, as well as pressure below. Atmospheric pressure also plays a role in what are called “slow” earthquakes. For instance, typhoons (hurricanes) cause slow earthquakes.

Atmospheric pressure has never been thought to be great enough to affect tectonic plates but now there is evidence that it spurs “slow” earthquakes. Atmospheric pressure may more easily influence seismic activity due to weakened fault lines from massive earthquakes like Indonesia 2004.

If atmospheric pressure can affect tectonic plates when it was long held that it could not, then oil or natural gas drilling may also affect tectonic plates by drilling into continental crust and oceanic crust. Seismic activity for oil drilling is low, but there are 3,000 oilrigs worldwide.

We’ve caused tremors from natural gas drilling already.
Drilling causes quake in U.S.

And geophysical hazards research scientist, Christian Klose, from Columbia University in New York, has done many peer reviewed publications about human activity inducing earthquakes. I shouldn’t be using this website as it is an online encyclopedia but there is a lot of information in the article about earthquakes from coal mining, water extraction, and gas exploration.

In this light, shouldn’t there be more investigation about mining and drilling? We’re ramping up natural gas exploration everywhere that pumps chemicals/water 1000’s of feet into the ground under great pressure. Remember what causes earthquakes—pressure and stress? Ditto for pumping CO2 into the ground.

Congress might learn more about humans affecting seismic activity as they investigate natural gas drilling for other reasons.


Glacier Floats by Australian Coast

Glaciers that break off of the Antarctic Ice Sheet don’t usually make it as far north as Australia. So to see a huuuuuge glacier float by the Macquarie Islands off the Australian coast in November while that continent’s interior currently suffers a blistering drought is a work of irony.

According to “The chunk of ice, 2,300 feet long and 1,000 feet deep, is floating toward New Zealand and could pose a danger to shipping when it splits into smaller chunks. Experts believe the iceberg is one of a number of icebergs, including one the size of Jamaica, that split from Antarctica in 2000 due to global warming and are slowly heading north.” One was the size of Jamaica?

See pics of this ice berg and read more:

New Zealand’s glaciers are melting at an alarming rate also:

September 2008

The Pategonian Ice Fields in Argentina/Chile, the largest next to Greenland and Antarctica, are melting:

March 2008

Glaciers in Peru are melting causing a water shortage:

November 2009

Alpine Glaciers are melting:

November 2007

Himalayan Glaciers melting faster than anywhere else. They supply the Ganges River

November 2009

U.S. Glacier Retreat August 2009

Glacier Retreat Worldwide June 2008

These glacier videos are from the last few years. Some say we’ve been in a cooling trend for the past decade. Odd, considering what you see isn’t consistent with that at all. Perhaps all the ice bergs floating around the ocean are acting like ice cubes in our cocktails.


Warming in the Northern Hemisphere, Cooling in the South, Average Overall Temp Still Up

There is much confusion about global climate change and rightly so because the earth’s hemispheres march to the beat of a different drum. The Northern Hemisphere is classically warmer than the Southern Hemisphere and now it’s more evident than ever. However, the NOAA just reported, “Combined Global Surface Temperature Was Sixth Warmest for October,” The report went on to list global temperature highlights that validate the difference between the two hemispheres:

· The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for October 2009 was the sixth warmest on record, at 1.03 degrees F above the 20th century average of 57.1 degrees F.
· The global land surface temperature for October 2009 was 1.48 degrees F above the 20th century average of 48.7 degrees F, and ranked as the sixth warmest October on record.
· The worldwide ocean temperature was the fifth warmest October on record, with an anomaly of 0.90 degree F above the 20th century average of 60.6 degrees F. Warmer-than-average temperatures dominated much of the world’s land areas. The greatest warm temperature variances during October 2009 were present across Alaska and northern and eastern Russia.
· Cooler-than-average conditions prevailed across Scandinavia, New Zealand, the contiguous U.S., and parts of northern Australia and southern South America.

Other highlights of this report continued to show the southern hemisphere is cooling, “New Zealand experienced uncharacteristically cool conditions, resulting in the coolest October since 1945. The national average was 51.1 degrees F, 2.5 degrees F below the long-term average.” And while “Arctic sea ice diminished 19.2 percent less than the 1979-2000 average and the second smallest October extent, behind 2007, since records began in 1979, []Antarctic sea ice extent in October was 1.6 percent above the 1979-2000 average, the ninth largest October extent on record.”

Evidently, the cooling in the southern hemisphere didn’t bring down the average of the two hemispheres enough to negate an overall warming trend. But why is the Southern Hemisphere cooling?

Remember the ozone layer depletion (holes) we heard so much about in the 70’s? Well, they are still around. The holes that allow so much of the earth’s rays to hit us, also allow trapped heat that causes global warming to escape. NASA explains: “Because ozone in the upper atmosphere absorbs heat radiating from below, stratospheric ozone depletion actually allows additional heat to escape into space. While this occurs worldwide, the depth of the springtime ozone hole over Antarctica results in Antarctica cooling while the rest of the Earth warms.” The ozone hole over Antarctica this year was exceptional, the size of North America.

Why are ozone holes still around? We were warned back in the 70’s that it takes decades for an ozone hole to heal, and the proof of that is still around. But as the reoccurring Antarctic ozone hole heals, the southern hemisphere will indeed catch up to the warming trends of the north and when it does, it will contribute readily to sea level rise since so much of the ice in the Antarctic is on top of land.

We have to wonder if pollution causes ozone holes and much of the pollution is in the Northern Hemisphere why is the ozone hole over the Antarctic and not the Arctic regions? There is such a thing called “the chemical equator—a natural meteorological boundary in the tropics” where there is a lot of upward moving air and rain that washes out chemicals traveling from north to south making the atmosphere cleaner down under but temperature plays the biggest role in driving ozone holes to the southern pole and not the north. The stratosphere in the southern hemisphere is always about five degrees Celsius colder than in the northern hemisphere and much more ice exists. The icy environment of the southern hemisphere makes the chlorofluorocarbons (ozone depleting chemicals) more potent. As an ABC article explains: “The chemical reaction that frees chlorine from CFCs takes place on the surface of tiny particles of ice in the stratosphere… The more ice there is in the stratosphere, the more ozone-destroying chlorine is liberated from CFCs.

Deniers like to cling to the expansion of ice in Antarctica and even central parts of Greenland in the north as proof of global cooling or at very least a standstill in global temperature gain. Besides the ozone hole contributing to a cooler Antarctic region, a quick look at the extremely different topography of polar places warming and polar places cooling offers an even greater explanation for the disparity:

The South Polar Ice Sheet is two miles thick. That means that the ice is at an altitude of over ten thousand feet where the temperature is much colder than a mere six or so feet as at the North Pole. This makes it impossible for the slight rise in global mean temperature to have any affect at all in the south accept around the edges of the continent.

Also, it sits on a continent rather than on water that is above freezing – as in the north. The ice in the north is an average of 6 to 12 feet thick and is being warmed from beneath as well as above. This has a much larger impact on the North Polar Ice Cap.

After reading all this material, I realized that the chlorofluorocarbons that cause ozone depletion are still around but slowly moving to the upper stratosphere on their final exit. Scientists weren’t kidding that these chemicals would hang around for years. We were warned, but out of sight out of mind. It’s something we should consider when they say CO2, methane, and host of other manmade global warming gases will indeed hang around long after we’ve put a lid on them and likely cause a host of climatic events even though they are slow to manifest now. If the past is a window, it looks like we can indeed expect climate problems to escalate even if we act now.


Chesapeake Bay Area Battling Sea Level Rise

I just wrote a blog about the Maldives’ underwater meeting to bring attention to sea level rise due to global warming. I then read an article about the U.S. Chesapeake Bay area that has been suffering sea level rise for quite a while and it’s getting worse. This news hasn’t made mainstream TV much because beach areas typically rely upon tourism. Officials of towns with beaches affected by sea level rise don’t want anyone to know the amount of sand they haul in annually to replenish what is rapidly disappearing. So beaches near resorts and hotels don’t belie how bad the situation there really is.

The article titled “Slip Sliding Away,” by David Fahrenthold was in National Wildlife Federation’s Oct/Nov Issue. It claims that many beaches are now bulkheads built to stave off rising sea levels. Sea levels that are “rising almost twice as fast in the Chesapeake region as in most of the world.” This area finds its communities spending millions to keep water from eroding more sand, and shipping sand in from elsewhere to maintain a beach area at all.

It was explained that two natural phenomena are affecting Chesapeake Bay and the mid Atlantic shore line. The land is dropping in the already low-lying Chesapeake Bay. This sinking is a result of huge glaciers melting in the north. Large glaciers put so much weight on the earth’s crust at one point it causes land to rise at the opposite end, “like a seesaw.” Melting Arctic glaciers are lightening the load so the Chesapeake area suffers from sinking. It happened in the first Ice Age. The other phenomenon is that climate change affects ocean currents. Chesapeake Bay is witnessing a weakened system of currents that pulls water away from the shore.

This presents a double whammy to the whole mid Atlantic area. I couldn’t believe the cost of replacing beaches and battling erosion. Virginia Beach reportedly spent $7 million in 2006 to “deposit 100,000 dump truck’s worth of sand on its beach. With Chesapeake Bay covering approx. 65,000 sq. miles, and being the U.S. largest and most biologically diverse estuary there is a lot at stake.

And like the Maldivians were trying to get across to everyone with their underwater town meeting is that places like the Maldives and Kiribati are only precursors of what will continue to happen along more and more coastlines. Add the Chesapeake Bay and mid Atlantic to the early list and disregard the skeptics that say it ain’t so.

Read more about sea level rise in the Chesapeake Bay:

About changing ocean currents:


The Snow Melted Awfully Fast



Are you a little amazed at how fast the piles of snow melted here in SE Michigan? Apply that thought to the polar ice melt. Michigan was barely in the teens for daytime highs, and at zero and below with the wind chill at night. In one day’s time and with little high wind the temperatures climbed into the 40’s and the snow disappeared almost the same day.


Heat from the sun is more intense than it used to be. I have buds on my apple, pear, and cherry trees. My pussy willow tree is budding. The buds were there when the weather was frigid. My husband wondered what was making them do that. I said the same thing that allows you to turn off our heat in the house and open our front door that faces south. When I open that door on a sunny but frigid day, I can feel the heat hit me.


What makes anyone think the Arctic is any different?


National Geographic’s Planet Earth

If you ever had any questions about a anything relating to earth and its functions, how it all happened, how our climate is changing and why, how we know this stuff, and many other things, watch National Geographic’s presentation “Planet Earth.” This is family stuff, enlightening, interesting, and a little bit scary.

Some of the presentations areexplosive. It’s a little mind boggling how they are able to present prehistoric earth with video footage of events and places from the present. I watched the one about ice mass, and last night was about earthquakes, ending with volcanic eruptions. There is as much action as the latest Rambo movie. My husband was perturbed we changed channels from the movie “Mash,” but said it was really a great presentation and he wants to see more of it now. You’ll find yourself saying “Wow” and “I didn’t know that!” more than once.

I know some people don’t get the National Geographic Channel, but the DVD set of “Planet Earth” is available. It’s better than any encyclopedia books I was brought up with. Maybe if they had this type of learning tool back then more of us would have went into science.

“Planet Earth” is on every night this week, beginning at 9:00 pm on the National Geographic Channel. Tune in.


Can excessive plankton buildup in the Arctic trigger same methane explosions as those off of Africa?

Yesterday I reported that NASA satellites are studying all types of changes on the earth. One of NASA’s studies whose results were on their website stated that:

Scientists from Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., set out to see what effect reduced sea ice cover would have on the organisms that comprise the base of the Arctic marine food web, the single-celled floating algae called phytoplankton. Because these photosynthetic organisms rely on the sun to meet their energy demands, reduced Arctic sea ice cover means an increase in the amount of open water habitat suitable for algal growth. Thus, their abundance is expected to increase.

Not surprisingly, the scientists found that the growth of phytoplankton has indeed increased markedly in concert with the rapid reduction in sea ice cover over the last five years. However, they were surprised to find that this growth did not take place in the areas of the Arctic where we expected it. The researchers anticipated that areas experiencing the most dramatic loss of sea ice would show the largest increase in algal growth. However this was not the case. Algal growth did indeed rise in newly ice-free areas, but only accounted for about one third of the total Arctic increase. The majority of the increase in algal growth (70 percent) was observed in the shallow waters that ring the Arctic Ocean. In these areas, algal growth rates increased because the sea ice in these areas, algal growth rates increased because the sea ice cover was melting sooner and freezing later in the year giving the algae increasingly more time to grow.

This was a nine year study using all types of satellite imagery including a MRI Spectroradiometer to compare ocean color and temperature relative to sea ice melt that was also assessed.

I read a lot of things and certain words like phytoplankton buildup tweaked my curiosity as to the difference between phytoplankton and plankton. Phytoplankton is the autotrophic component of plankton. According to Wikipedia an “autotroph is an organism that produces complex organic compounds from simple inorganic molecules using energy from light or inorganic chemical reactions. Another article I found: didn’t differentiate between phytoplankton and plankton.

This is a little frightening because of the blog I just wrote about explosions of methane gas that are growing in size to that of meters in the ocean waters off of Namibia. If all of this phytoplankton is rapidly spreading in the shallow waters that ring the Arctic Ocean, and there are not enough fish or marine mammals in that region to eat the excess plankton (phytoplankton), doesn’t it stand to reason that this Arctic phytoplankton will go the way of plankton near Namibia? In other words, it will die and rot, creating hydrogen sulfide pockets. All that is needed is high pressure from a storm on the ocean’s surface to affect the pressure on the ocean bottom in these particularly shallow waters around the Arctic and an eruption might occur. These are the same eruptions happening off of Namibia. I realize that scientists claim these explosions are not likely to take place because of the constant churning of the ocean floor. But then there is Namibia. Explain that?

Scary stuff since the first global warming event 40 million years ago was from methane gas eruptions. The earth was eventually scorched. This just shows how delicately balanced our world really is. We fish too much, or disrupt certain species by changing habitat drastically, and something else is thrown out of kilter like phytoplankton, something so small we don’t really see it except for greenish colored water. Something so small yet it can eventually kill us.


NASA website:


NASA Channel/Website Uncovers the Geek in Me

I just came to the realization this morning that I’m a geek. I doubt anyone but those extremely close to me would ever consider me a geek, because I didn’t. But I’m writing a fiction book that deals with space and as part of the research; I clicked on the NASA channel this morning. Oh, I’ve visited this channel before but it never occurred to me how long I linger there. I actually sit mesmerized by this world of space, science, and math that face it; most of our population knows absolutely nothing about and could care less.

My interest in the NASA channel isn’t the only thing however that qualifies me as a geek. Lately, I’ve become more and more interested in alternative sources of energy, particularly the many experiments with hydrogen. And I actually liked advanced math in college. Huge algebra problems were like puzzles to be worked, and I fanatically worked them. I even took an electricity class at Community College for the fun of it. Now something is clearly wrong here when only five people signed up for the class and after the instructor outlined what everyone would be doing, including algebra, the final class tally turned out to be me and another guy who had to take it. I’m a geek aren’t I?

That’s probably why I was anxious to read the pdf files of the latest findings that were reported from NASA today via telecon by a panel of experts ranging from terrestrial ecology to atmospheric and oceanic sciences relative to:

Changes to Earth’s ecosystems [that] are evident in recent research that employs NASA remote-sensing data. Panelists [discussed] several topics, including the impact of shrinking Arctic sea ice on marine ecosystems, how invasive species alter the biochemistry of local ecosystems, the role of climate change on the length of growing seasons and ecosystems, and seasonal changes in phytoplankton and the consequences on marine ecosystems.

It’s amazing what is seen from satellite devices, and how these global views allow scientists to analyze a situation. As these views are recorded over time changes become evident. Linking all the info from different components of the global warming equation like Arctic ice melt, rainforest changes, results of deforestation and fires, and marine biology is what has been necessary since the whole global warming theory began. Gathering data like that from all types of sources, and then combining it in a productive way to see how one system affects another over the globe is a daunting task, but satellite technology looks to tackle all of that in the future.

Check out the sight and the pdf files of different topics discussed.

Click on News and Features on that page also to get the latest from NASA about polar bears and loss of habitat:


Polar Bears vs. Big Oil; Guess Who’s Going to Die?

“We were in fully open ocean, dozens of miles from the ice pack, in a sort of half-fog at what passes for dusk around here, when a 10 foot wide chunk of ice flowed past. It was visible for maybe 15 seconds – the only ice we’d seen for days. On it: a polar bear, just drifting wherever the ocean wanted to take him”

I quoted that to say this. As the polar bear waits to get on the Endangered Species List, a decision that comes from the Department of the Interior, the polar bear’s habitat continues to disintegrate. It is practically wide-open seas according to the same article, and “the polar ice cap has reached its lowest extent in recorded history.” The summer Arctic may be ice-free as soon as 2040 and polar bear populations will decrease by two thirds. Out of an estimated 22,000 bears, that means over 14,500 polar bears will die. The one that floated by the Coast Guard Cutter is just one example that they won’t be afforded a quick death.

Many animals are at the mercy of the Department of the Interior lately, the wolves, and now the polar bears. The polar bear’s biggest and most volatile habitat is in the Chukchi Sea. Despite an outcry from native Eskimos, environmental groups, animal welfare organizations, a lawsuit, and citizens from around the world, the Chukchi Oil leases are going through as per the Dept. of the Interior. Royal Dutch Shell, and Conoco Phillips, you know the oil company that is supposedly investing in a green future like BP, plan to bid on the leases.

According to a Wall Street Journal Article Conoco Phillips said that “listing the polar bear as threatened ‘is not warranted’ based on the bears’ current population numbers. Listing them as threatened ‘will have an adverse impact on the oil and gas industry and people that live in the Arctic.’ Well I feel real sorry for the oil and gas industry, don’t you? Exxon Mobil netted $75000 per minute in 2006 and we should feel for the oil and gas industry and the heck with the polar bears? We’ll be on that soon-to-be extinct list too if ignoring ethics in favor of money, money, money keeps up.

The idea here is prevention. There are 22,000 bears, the Arctic is already open water so bear numbers will soon be declining rapidly without frozen land to walk and hunt. The Dept. of the Interior should put the bear on the list immediately to stop a catastrophic loss of most of that population, but waits instead using the bear’s current numbers to validate the delay. Meanwhile, the Dept. of Interior rushes to OK the auction of some 30 million acres in one the most pristine parts of the sea, a major polar bear habitat, for oil drilling?

I’m sorry but in a business situation the Department of the Interior’s single authority in both the protection of a clearly endangered species of animal like the polar bear and the very lucrative sale of the polar bear’s habitat for the purpose of drilling for oil presents a conflict of interest. And the delay in adding the polar bear to the Endangered List is an obvious morally unethical decision by a dubious Secy. of Interior, Dirk Kempthorne.

For Kempthorne, Conoco Phillips, and anyone else like President Bush that doesn’t appear to understand the English language, the word endangered means: exposed to danger, in peril. ENDANGERED DOES NOT MEAN ALREADY DEAD! The polar bear is in danger, and definitely in peril with a ruthless administration like this one.


PEACE to Every Living Thing on Earth

On Christmas Eve I think it’s important to remember where the Christ Child was born, AMONG THE ANIMALS in a manger. Every nativity scene is one with animals. A manger in those dayswas: “a feed trough found in a stable. In Bible times mangers were made from clay mixed with straw or from stones held together with mud; sometimes they were carved in natural outcroppings of rock,” There is an actualpicturetaken of a manger at Megiddo used in the stables of King Ahab on the linked website.

So the King of Kings was placed in the feed trough of the animals of a stable.This is a quite a statementabout the beasts of the earth,that theywereworthy of such an event. This Christmas take the time to reflect not only on mankind, but peace for the earth and all of the living things that are in jeopardy of extinction.The “beasts”as in animals of the earth are written about in the old and new testament over 200 times. Their importance is undeniable. Weweren’t meant to live in a world without animals, especially those that have been here for centuries that are now in danger.