A new study using sonic mapping found sections of old rock beneath the US east coast disintegrating; this will cause catastrophic earthquakes. Many are in danger – especially in NJ/NYC and VA.
On Aug. 23, 2011, an earthquake shook several states in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, including our nation's capital. It was an unexpected event, with the epicenter near Mineral, Virginia – well within the North American Plate. It was felt by a third of the U.S. population, as far north as Maine and Canada and as far south as Georgia.
Its epicenter was in an unusual location, more than 1,000 miles from the nearest edge of the North American Plate, but the USGS notes this as the most-felt quake in U.S. history.
Until now, the exact cause of the earthquake perplexed geologists. But a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth has an explanation for this event and others in the region.
The magnitude 5.8 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia on August 23, 2011 was felt by so many people it broke a record for earthquakes in the U.S. (USGS)
“This region has not been active for a long time,” Berk Biryol, a seismologist at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and lead author of the new study, said in a press release. “We were intrigued by what was going on and how we can link these activities to structures in deeper parts of the Earth.”
Rather than originating from plate boundaries, as earthquakes in more active regions do, they key to these quakes is beneath the plates and in the Earth's mantle, researchers found. Their theory is that pieces of the mantle are breaking off, weakening the plate above. And they found that the 2011 earthquake is one of many that are likely to come.
“Our idea supports the view that this seismicity will continue due to unbalanced stresses in the plate,” Biryol said. “The [seismic] zones that are active will continue to be active for some time.”
Researchers used a 3D map of the mantle and found something unexpected: the thickness of the plate in the southeast was uneven, a mixture of young and old rock. Pieces of the mantle were breaking off and letting gravity do its job. Thinner plates are more likely to slip along the fault lines.
That instability explained why quakes had occurred in the past, and hints at more to come in the future.
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New Jersey, New York City and Virginia in particular danger
The real danger to folks living on the east coast – especially in New Jersey with its major Ramapo Fault and its smaller Flemington and Hopewell faults, is that very few (if any) building codes, require any type of earthquake resistance. So when these new earthquakes start coming, homes and office buildings that look perfectly OK, may start swaying in a way that causes them to simply collapse flat.
New York City is in even worse danger precisely BECAUSE it is built on solid rock; the rock is hard and cold which allows earthquake energy (from NJ) to travel very fast through the rock, and be felt very strongly! With its many old, high-rise buildings, a new earthquake can cause catastrophic damage and multiple building collapses throughout the region.
Virginia, too, is in particular danger because that is where the 2011 magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck, so the bedrock beneath Virginia is already now destabilized!
People don't die in earthquakes because the ground shakes or because some gaping hole opens in the ground and swallows them up; people die in earthquakes because buildings – or ceilings – collapse on them.
Ignoring for a moment the make-up of soil, which may "liquify" in a quake, let's just look for a moment about how homes are built:
The foundation is dug, the cement or cinder blocks are installed, the frame of the house is then built on top of that foundation. . . . but it is not "ANCHORED" to the foundation, it simply sits on top of it.
If an earthquake causes the ground to bounce up-down, that's not necessarily a big problem. But if an earthquake causes the ground to move left-right or front-back, the homes literally slide right off their foundations and collapse into a heap of rubble!
Building codes in the eastern US and in the southeastern US are going to HAVE to be changed to firmly anchor buildings to their foundations.
But as mentioned above, if the earthquake causes an up-down bouncing motion, while a home may not slide off its foundation, its ceilings may slide right off their nails! So it seems as though all ceilings will have to be SCREWED into the ceiling beams as opposed to being nailed. During an up-downn bouncing motion, nails will slide right out of the wood, allowing sheetrock ceilings to fall. Screws will not simply slide right out.
We don't know about you, but we'd rather not get hit in the head by a 4 x 8 piece of sheetrock plummeting down from a ceiling.
In an event, folks in the eastern USA should start researching ways to make existing homes more resistant to earthquakes. Your life may depend upon it.
Nuclear Power Plants
In the New York City – New Jersey area, there are several nuclear power plants and one in particular, the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan New York, is situated very close to the Ramapo Fault! We don't know who thought it would be a good idea to build a nuclear power plant next to an earthquake fault, but that issue is already decided.
The question now becomes, with this NEW knowledge that the danger from serious earthquakes is escalating here in the east, what should be done with plants like Indian Point?
We think it is time to replace it with an efficient, gas-powered plant and get rid of the nuclear fuel which, as the disaster in Fukushima Japan showed all of us in 2011 – cannot be controlled and does hideous damage once unleashed.
Source : superstation95.com
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