Two huge earthquakes hit near Anchorage, causing major infrastructure damage

A 7.0 earthquake hit eight miles north of Anchorage, AK this morning, followed by a 5.8 earthquake. The earthquakes caused buildings to crack and roads to buckle, along with "major infrastructure damage," according to the Anchorage Police Department. A tsunami warning was briefly issued, but later canceled.

Via NBC:

Gov. Bill Walker said he issued a major declaration of disaster after the "major earthquake" and is in communication with the White House.

"There is major infrastructure damage across Anchorage," according to a statement from the Anchorage Police Department. "Many homes and buildings are damaged. Many roads and bridges are closed. Stay off the roads if you don’t need to drive. Seek a safe shelter. Check on your surroundings and loved ones."

And via Anchorage Daily News:

All Alaska Railroad operations are shut down due to severe damage at the railroad’s Anchorage Operations Center on Ship Creek, including the dispatch center, according to spokesman Tim Sullivan. The center is closed by flooding from burst pipes and the power is out.

No trains were running when the quake hit, but service can’t resume until crews assess damage, Sullivan said. It will be a day or two before that happens.

So far there are no reports of people being injured.

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Japan's 6.7 earthquake swallows homes in landslides, kills at least 9 people

Japan was struck with a magnitude 6.7 earthquake at 3:08am local time in Hokkaido, causing several landslides that swallowed a number of houses.

According to The Japan Times:

A landslide along a long ridge in the rural town of Atsuma could be seen in aerial footage from NHK. The 3:08 a.m. quake also cut the power supply to nearly 3 million homes in the prefecture while grounding flights and disrupting train services.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put the death toll at nine while the Hokkaido Prefectural Government said about 300 people were injured in Sapporo and other cities.

The government said later in the day that about 340,000 homes had regained electricity.

Aftershocks have already hit, one of them a magnitude of 5.3 just minutes after the earthquake, according to Business Insider. Residents have been warned that more may follow in the next few days. A tsunami is not expected. Read the rest

Cats can feel an earthquake coming well before it hits

This is amazing to watch. Read the rest

Watch a server room's isolated floor do its job during earthquake

On a reporting trip in the mid-1990s, I visited the headquarters of a major Japanese construction company. I was there to talk about their plans (unrealized, thus far) to build hotels on the moon. During the tour, they took me underneath the building to show me their state-of-the-art (at the time) seismic base isolators to manage the vibration caused by huge earthquakes. The entire huge building was built on big rubber bearings that sway and sliding mechanisms that move smoothly back and forth. I felt quite safe. I was reminded of that technology when watching this in-building seismic isolation technology doing its job in a Sendai building's server room during the March 11, 2011 Tōhokue earthquake.

Of course Boing Boing is impervious to such natural disasters as our private data facility is located in stable orbit at the fifth Lagrange point.

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Watch: video of earthquake on ocean floor

A scuba diver managed to record an earthquake on the sea floor. Read the rest

Big gallery of the Great San Francisco Earthquake

The Atlantic has a photo gallery of the Great San Francisco Earthquake from 1906:

110 years ago next week, on April 18, 1906, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake centered near the city of San Francisco struck at 5:15 AM. The intense shaking toppled hundreds of buildings, but the resulting out-of-control fires were even more destructive. Broken water mains and limited firefighting capabilities allowed city-wide fires to burn for several days. Nearly 500 city blocks were leveled, with more than 25,000 buildings destroyed. At the time, the city was home to more than 400,000 residents—after the disaster, 250,000 were left homeless. The exact death toll is undetermined, but most estimates place the number of deaths caused by the earthquake and fire at more than 3,000.

Watch it full screen.

[via] Read the rest

Thanks to fracking, Oklahoma and Texas are now as earthquake-prone as California

Pumping all that waste water into the ground has really helped Oklahoma and Texas catch up to California! Man-made earthquakes in those regions are now as likely as the real ones in some of California's riskiest zones. These new maps from the USGS tell the tale pretty well.

Via NPR:

USGS scientists have now published the first maps of these new quake zones, and they're an eye-opener. An eye-opener because 7 million people are now, suddenly, living in quake zones. There are 21 hot spots where the quakes are concentrated. They're in places where, historically, noticeable earthquakes were rare: Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Ohio and Alabama have also experienced some induced quakes.

A decade ago, an Oklahoman could count the number of noticeable quakes on her fingers. "In this past year, we had over 900," says USGS seismic hazard expert Mark Petersen. "So the rates have surged."

Petersen says induced quakes have become more frequent because there's more wastewater from oil and gas operations around the country that has to be disposed of. Companies pump it down into underground wells, and sometimes that water raises pressure on underground faults that then slip and cause small quakes.

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Imagining life “After the Big One” hits a major U.S. city

Vice today published a 5-part, deeply reported and researched science fiction series about what happens after the a massive earthquake hits an American city. Read the rest

Drone footage of Chile quake damage

An 8.3 earthquake hit central Chile yesterday, killing 10 and forcing one million to evacuate their homes. The BBC has drone footage of the devastation. Read the rest

Weatherman on live TV reacts to earthquake

KTVU-Oakland weatherman Steve Paulson was mid-forecast as a magnitude 4.0 earthquake hit Oakland early this morning. (Thanks, Matthew!)

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Earthquake early warning system gets a $4 million boost from USGS

What if there were a way to warn people right before a big earthquake hits? Earthquake early warning system technology is already serious stuff in Japan, and a system in development for the U.S. just got some serious funding.

Video of bison running out of Yellowstone ≠ "OMG supervolcano eruption"

[Video Link] There's a video going around that shows a long line of bison trotting down a road in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. Some people are pointing to this as a sign that the animals are hightailing it out of the park because the Yellowstone volcano is about to blow its top. But in the video above, Yellowstone Park Public Affairs Chief Al Nash explains that the bison and other animals are simply migrating to a lower elevation where they can find food, which they do every year in the dead of winter.

My takeaway from this video was a reminder that I have a box of mouth-watering Bison Bacon Cranberry Bars in my kitchen cabinet. Read the rest

Weird lights appearing before earthquakes

Sometimes before an earthquake, strange bright orbs and glows are seen in the sky, like the scene visible in this video clip captured a half hour before the 2008 quake in Sichuan, China. You might think these are related to the UFOs that cause the quakes, but new research not only suggests a natural cause but also raises the possibility that the phenomena could be an indicator that a quake is coming. The scientists from Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and San Jose State University suggest that rocks under high stress deep underground release oxygen ions that eventually make their way to the surface, ionizing air pockets above ground and creating a light-emitting plasma.

“If you see visible lights in the sky, and you live in an earthquake-prone area, they might be an early-warning sign that an earthquake is approaching,” geologist Robert Thériault says.

More in Smithsonian: "Why Do Lights Sometimes Appear in the Sky During An Earthquake?" Read the rest

At least 34 people have died in earthquakes in Iran

A 6.3 earthquake and one with a magnitude of 7.8 hit Western Iran in the course of just a week. These are largely rural areas, with a lot of mud brick buildings that tend to collapse when the earth shakes. It's hard to say how many casualties there are, in total. Scientifically speaking, the earthquakes were also fairly interesting, writes Chris Rowan at Highly Allochthonous. They happened in different — in fact, totally opposite — ways, with the smaller one happening as plates crashed into one another and the larger caused by tectonic plates moving away from each other. This was along the same plate boundary. How's that work? Rowan has the details. Read the rest

More earthquakes in Oklahoma

A 4.3 earthquake rattled Oklahoma City at around 1:00 am central today. You may recall that scientists have evidence connecting Oklahoma's sudden onset of small quakes to the disposal of liquid left over from gas and oil fracking operations. Read the rest

More evidence linking fracking wastewater disposal to earthquakes

Here at BoingBoing, we've talked before about the fact that earthquakes can be triggered by things humans do — everything from building particularly large reservoir to, most likely, injecting wastewater from fracking operations into underground wells. After a 5.7 earthquake hit Oklahoma in 2011, researchers there began gathering evidence that is making the link between rumbling earth and oil-and-gas discovery a lot stronger. At Mother Jones, Michael Behar has a story about this research and and how it is (and isn't) affecting the industry. Read the rest

Building a better Bay Bridge

San Francisco will get a new Bay Bridge this summer. The New York Daily News has an interesting story about that bridge's creation — and the earthquake-resistant engineering behind it. Read the rest

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