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By Captain_Tenille in News
Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 09:59:08 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

Today, at about 11:00 AM, PST, an earthquake that, according to preliminary reports, hit the Pacific Northwest with a force of 6.4 on the Richter Scale. Estimates of its strength have been varied, however, between 6.1 and 6.5.(Nevermind, its up to 7.)

Why am I not certain? Because I was in the middle of it all, and things are still chaotic here.

The news here about the quake is spotty, but I wanted to try and get the fresh, as it happens, news out while people are still trying to clean up and get everything back in order.

In Olympia, we've had buildings crack and pieces fall off. A bridge is closed because of structural damage. One building lost its entire top concrete overhang, crashing onto the ground below. No one seems to be seriously hurt, but the place is a mad house.

I've been able to hear very little about anywhere else, but Seattle sounds like it got hit pretty hard as well. Apparently, the corporate Starbucks building where my brother works was the worst hit in Seattle, and my parents have not been able to get a hold of him.

Sorry, I just found out that it has gone up to a 7, and that our state Capitol building has lost a column in the quake. Does the rest of the country know any more about this than we do? The radio reports here are spotty and barely informative at best, conflicting and confusing at worst. Any other earthquake stories anybody would like to share?

I apologize for the rushed tone of this story, but I'm trying to get it done and out before any aftershocks hit and we get more damage or lose power, phones, and Internet access.


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EARTHQUAKE!!! | 69 comments (48 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
hate to sound like an ass... (2.17 / 34) (#9)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 04:54:51 PM EST

Feel free to flame or whatever -- I'm just venting after all this fucking rediculous coverage.

I hate to sound like an ass, but with all the fucking news (even National news?!?! wtf?) dedicated to this pansy assed earthquake, there better have been a lot of deaths to justify this kind of coverage (so far, NO deaths reported).

People in Portland were reportedly freaked out and crying and rushed out of buildings -- just because they swayed a bit for about 45 seconds. Big fucking deal. This is the first earthquake I've been in and it didn't even compete with the mildest turbulance in any flights I've taken (although it did almost knock a heavy book shelf over).

I turned on the news, saw about twelve stations dedicating the rest of the day to what they're suggesting is the most catastrophic event in the northwest in a bajillion kazillion years, and went back to bed. Yeah, some people were in unfortunate areas and got hurt, but these millions of other yahoos need to grow a spine, get real and get their asses back to work. They aren't in fifth grade; you can't weasel a day off just because of a little topsy turvy shaking. Wusses.

This is almost as bad as that lame coverage of the "flood" we supposedly had back in 1996. News will do anything to hype a non-story and the population will go along with anything to feel like they're "part of something" even if it's a "catastrophe".
I just read K5 for the articles.

Jesus (1.70 / 10) (#12)
by regeya on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:02:45 PM EST

I had some respect for you before, but damn it, you're a fucking asshole.

I'm not even going to mince words, apologise later, or anything like that. That was totally uncalled for. How about I go to your house and kill you? Big fucking deal. It happens to people all the time. When the cops question me, I'll just tell them (and your family) to just fucking get over it.

rating of 1 from me...

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

pulling analogies out of your ass (2.08 / 12) (#18)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:27:21 PM EST

Aside from many other stupid fucking points I could make about your analogy, let's stick with the death part. Who died? There was an earthquake. A couple dozen people got hurt. So far, no deaths. No skyscrapers tumbled over. No bridges collapsed. No fires blazed through the city, uncontrolled, eating up block after block. Starbucks loses a few bricks and we all shit our pants. A foreign country crumbles to bits and tens of thousands of people die and while we mention it here and there on the news, we don't focus on it for 12 hours straight.

Scope of reporting is everything. They're blowing this event up beyond belief. Yes, stuff shook. Yeah, people got scared. But it's pointless to rehash it for the next however many hours or days, non-stop. Hell, there were some MAJOR riots lastnight in several places throughout the country that resulted in a lot of injuries and maybe (if I recall), some deaths. But you don't see one second about that on the news.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

feh (none / 0) (#48)
by regeya on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 12:46:45 AM EST

Hell, there were some MAJOR riots lastnight in several places throughout the country that resulted in a lot of injuries and maybe (if I recall), some deaths. But you don't see one second about that on the news.

You're watching the wrong news, bub.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

You're watching different news shows than I was (none / 0) (#63)
by Karmakaze on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:11:39 AM EST

Hell, there were some MAJOR riots lastnight in several places throughout the country that resulted in a lot of injuries and maybe (if I recall), some deaths. But you don't see one second about that on the news.
That's funny. When I checked the 11:00 news for updates (from the east coast), I saw more time devoted to the riots than to the earthquake,

[ Parent ]

Thank you for caring (5.00 / 3) (#22)
by fossilcode on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 06:26:38 PM EST

There is a late (unconfirmed) report that 2 people are dead from a quake-related fire. It's true that this quake didn't have the death toll of El Salvador, or Turkey, or India. A lot of money has been spent in the Puget Sound region in recent years on seismic protection.

From my vantage point half-way between the epicenter and downtown Seattle, I can tell you this was a more significant quake than any other quake I've experienced in this region. The press is reporting that the region has not had one of this magnitude since the big one in the 1940's. My power went out from quake time (approx. 11:00 am PST) until about 2:30 pm PST.

Traffic in the Seattle area is bad during a normal rush hour. Imagine the chaos of all the additional vehicles dumped onto the freeways as businesses including Boeing sent their workers home early. Rush hour started early in the afternoon and continues at 3:25 pm. Now, along with the extra vehicles, some bridges and freeway ramps are closed until they can be inspected for damage. NOT a pretty sight.

One conspiracy theorist speculated that Seattle mayor Schell cooked the whole thing up to divert attention away from the dismal job Seattle Police did in controlling the mayhem at last night's Fat Tuesday riot in Pioneer Square. If he did, he should get re-elected, because only a true leader could pull off a diversion of this proportion.

"...half the world blows and half the world sucks." Uh, which half were you again?
[ Parent ]
not major (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by Delirium on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:37:42 PM EST

From my vantage point half-way between the epicenter and downtown Seattle, I can tell you this was a more significant quake than any other quake I've experienced in this region.

I think that was the point: this may look like a big deal to Seattlites, but it's really not. More people are killed every weekend in car accidents than this quake killed.

Plus I don't recall seeing any actual large earthquakes reported here on k5, just a minor one that happens to have taken place in the United States.

[ Parent ]

6.8 is not minor (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by fossilcode on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:46:37 PM EST

Luckily, good engineering and a bit of luck meant the Puget Sound didn't suffer the same fate as other parts of the world under the same circumstances.

The episode begs for an op-ed piece about the effects of a natural disaster in areas such as Sunnyvale, or Seattle or Chicago on important infrastructure, given the increasing dependence on the internet.

You are right that the event looked like a big deal to Seattlites. These are the same folks who go into a 4-day handwringing frenzy over a forecast of 1/4 inch of snow. This is different, although the overactive TV folks are treating it with the same lame intensity.

"...half the world blows and half the world sucks." Uh, which half were you again?
[ Parent ]
not from a human perspective (3.50 / 2) (#42)
by Delirium on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:53:19 PM EST

Well, from a geological perspective it is in fact a major earthquake; from a human catastrophe perspective it's incredibly minor. I'm sorry, but I wouldn't consider something that kills two people a "catastrophe." You have to keep things in context - a 6.8 earthquake in a city prepared for it is not a very big deal; a 5.5 earthquake in a wholly unprepared city is much more important.

[ Parent ]
engineering and luck? (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:02:13 AM EST

The minor damage is mostly due to the epicenter of the quake being some thirty miles under the surface as opposed to five miles or less that has been the case in other major quakes. This particular type of quakes is expected in the Puget Sound area every thirty-five years or so. Check out the NYTimes coverage for more detailed explanations.

[ Parent ]
engineering (3.00 / 2) (#61)
by Seumas on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:05:56 AM EST

Engineering had very little to do with it.

The fact that the quake was 30 miles underground did.

That's another reason the 'reports' on this whole thing are inane. Calling it a "major earthquake" just because it is a 6.8 is like calling the ocean a major flood, even though the water is -- duh -- out in the ocean.

If the earthquake had occured another 20 or 25 miles near the surface, that could be considered a major earthquake.

In fact, I would consider the engineering rather attrocious that it couldn't hold up to the rather minimal force that this earthquake exerted (the USGS reported that the actual felt effect there was probably more around a 4.7, because of the depth of the quake, which caused the energy to dissipate before reaching the city).

In places like Portland, this will be big news for a few days. Everyone will freak out about how "some day" a "big one" will hit us and we better be prepared. Of course, by the end of the week, something big will happen on Survivor and we'll all forget about it until the day that somethign really does hit, we all die, and we're a big blurb on the National news. Whoo!
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

one of the things (3.33 / 3) (#39)
by jeanlucpikachu on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:22:23 PM EST

cited in the India quake is that the majority of casualties could have been prevented if the building code inspectors hadn't been bought off by corrupt people working for either construction agencies or other people (i forget who). I'm not saying stuff like that could never happen in America, but for the most part, people in America are pretty damn anal about this shit.

You should be happy that no one was seriously hurt (I think...). And whatever damage was done, we'll learn from it, and we'll improve, and next time, maybe it won't be so bad.

Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu AIM: jeanlucpikachu
[ Parent ]
the "flood" (4.00 / 4) (#44)
by cybin on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:18:20 PM EST

i remember your supposed "flood" in 1996. a very old bridge near the boarding school i went to was washed away right after being refurbished. alums of the school paid for its refurbishment because many of them had proposed to their wives on it, asked girls out, learned to repel from it, or sat under it in the shade on sunny days. i assure you it was both a real flood and a tragedy, for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that the water was originally about 25 feet below the bridge. i think that's a flood.

i read somewhere that in order for one's mind to begin processing that the individual is in a moment of crisis, first that person must realize that what they are experiencing is real and possibly dangerous. you seem to be lacking that reflex, and are reflecting, IMHO, the stereotypical portrayal of a male in our society. nothing phases him. he takes it all in stride. i think that is full of shit, and a lame attempt to psychologically keep one's feet tethered to the planet.

i would suggest you examine just exactly what you went through, and given the numbers posted above of the dead bodies in other countries, consider yourself one lucky over-masculized SOB.

[ Parent ]
Rock'n and Roll'n in Victoria (3.25 / 4) (#15)
by Matthew Guenther on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:11:40 PM EST

I was in the University of Victoria computer lab when it hit, it was long but not very violent... mostly the monitors swayed back and forth. A friend walked over the the Earth and Ocean Sciences department where they had a seismograph and I it measured 4.7 there.

Kind of exciting but everyone was back at work inside five minutes. We figured it was nature's way of telling the premier maybe he should call an election soon (he was giving a press release at 11:00 at the university)


My favorite moment. (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:31:36 PM EST

My favorite moment was when the local news station was reporting the earthquake as a 6.8, while the USGS was reporting it as a 4.7.

The news anchor replied to the USGS scientist "Well, but we've been telling people it was a 6.8 for almost a half hour..."

What? I don't get what the hell that was supposed to mean, but I guess she was expecting the scientist to reply "Oh, well, god damn lady -- our equipment and experienced staff obviously must be completely wrong in our readings -- I mean, you've been saying it's a 6.8 for almost a half hour? Wow, who are we to correct you and your esteemed geologically educated staff sitting in your painted faces behind your news desk?"

My other favorite moment was when the same women observed that a 7.0 was greater than a 6.1.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

about the same in Vancouver (5.00 / 1) (#20)
by superfly on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:46:47 PM EST

The office building I work in (part of Canada Place) moved around a lot, but it didn't feel very violent. I guess if we had a *bad* earthquake, this building would just sink into the ocean.

There's a skylight broken, but it might have been broken before.

Back to work in five minutes, except for the pool we had going on the severity. The highest anyone guessed was 5.2.

[ Parent ]
Milder inland (3.50 / 2) (#40)
by Alexander the Drake on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:35:56 PM EST

I live in a suburb[1]. For me, it wasn't really much. A few minutes of shaking, then a pause and a few more. At first, I thought I was imagining things.
I heard sirens later, so it must have been more eventful for others.

It was weird, though. The last time I can remember even an earthquake warning was back in grade 6 (nearly a decade ago), and it never materialized.

[1] Well, technically one of the smaller cities, but all the ones around Vancouver are just suburbs of it anyway.

[ Parent ]

My experience w/ the quake (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by dyskordus on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 06:31:31 PM EST

I live in Portland, and work in Beaverton (a suburb).

When the quake hit I was sitting at my desk working. Then the building began to shake. I assumed that someone in the cube next to mine was wrestling, jumping rope, playing hopscotch, or something like that (weird things happen where I work). Then other people in other cubes started standing up and walking around. I figured it out really quickly after that. After I realized the building wasn't falling down I sat down and went back to work. A few minutes later we were informed that the building was to be evacuated. So I wound up hanging out in the parking lot for half an hour, hoping they would close the building and send everyone home (the didn't).

Right now the only lingering effect seems to be a lack of free phone circuts, since apparently everybody and their dog are calling one another about the quake.

"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.

School response (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by Elmin on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 06:39:18 PM EST

I was in the computer lab at Bellevue Community College at the time. There were a few people who were upset, but there was also a very audible cheer when it was announced that campus was closed for the day. After it was over, someone said something to the effect of, "Does anyone want to bet what that was? I'd say it's a 3.9."

My mom was hiking near the local high school, and she heard a similar response from them. Apparently, the east side was not terribly impressed.

This is really silly (3.57 / 7) (#25)
by ncohen on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:27:46 PM EST

I was right in the middle of it (I was about to leave for BCC when it hit.) and I can tell you that all of this coverage and panic and hype is rediculous.

Nothing happened. Nobody was killed, nothing was destroyed, no aftershocks, nothing.

Not to veer too far off on a rant, but, I have noticed that Seattle natives (I was born and raised for awhile on the East Coast before coming here in 1991) have an unusual habit of grossly over exagerating the severity of anything that happens. One inch of snow equates to record snowfall (that was just a few weeks ago) and schools being shut down for fear of horrible accidents. In this case, one building got cracked and a few cars got smashed, and it has caused the entire county to be declared a disaster area. Really, come on.

Yes, the quake, while it happened, was scary. Big deal. Adrenaline rush, story to tell your kids, let's move along now, people.

I think if anything this is just a testament to how far we've come from the horrific earthquake disasters of our past: when a city can take a 7.0 (this is what the UW sesimo lab reports) and be back up to normal operations in a few minutes is pretty damn good in my book.
"(A+Bn)/n = x, hence God exists, reply!"

Perspective (4.00 / 7) (#30)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:37:19 PM EST

Bad Quake == "19,000 people dead"
Bad Quake == "Half the city destroyed"
Bad Quake != "30 people injured"
Bad Quake != "Cracks in ceilings and a couple of collapsed walls"

Oh, wait, nevermind. I forgot:

Bad Quake == "Some Americans were involved"
Minor Quake == "A bunch of foreigners died but no Americans were involved".

Down here in the Bay Area, the local news had the gall to report a 4.2 quake in the south bay a couple of days after the Indian quake. 4.2! "We'd tell you about the tens of thousands of Indians that lost their lives, but we don't have time because we've got to talke to someone's grandma who saw her favorite porcelin figurine wobble for a few minutes."

And, no this is not meant to be a troll. And before someone starts telling me that I'm a bastard with no sympathy, bear in mind that my house is less than ten miles from one of the most dangerous fault lines in the world, so I'm likely far more likely to be in this situation myself then most of the people reading this.

This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Perspective is an important thing (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by Karmakaze on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:03:36 AM EST

Down here in the Bay Area, the local news had the gall to report a 4.2 quake in the south bay a couple of days after the Indian quake. 4.2! "We'd tell you about the tens of thousands of Indians that lost their lives, but we don't have time because we've got to talke to someone's grandma who saw her favorite porcelin figurine wobble for a few minutes."
Err, let me get this straight. You're complaining that your local news reported a quake that happened locally, that day, and that's a problem because there had been a larger quake outside of their broadcast area days before? Perhaps you're unclear on the concept of "local news", here.

I'll grant that the India quake is a bigger disaster, but that doesn't make every other quake in the world not news.

For example, I helped organize donations in my office for the India quake, which I certainly won't be doing for the Seattle quake. But, given that I have family living in Seattle, I sure did want to know that it happened and that everyone's ok.

[ Parent ]

BCC? (none / 0) (#45)
by slakhead on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:30:32 PM EST


I was at SVC when it happened. Small world I guess.

Yes there was a lot of hype for 30 to 60 seconds of rolling and the media frenzy was kind of ridiculous but nonetheless it was kind of cool to experience and see all the pictures of the damage. It wasn't like nothing happened but there was nothing to freak out about really. Actually it was kind of fun.

Anyway, I suspect it was really just a failed attempt on Bill Gates by Nature herself...

[ Parent ]

depends on where you were (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by SEAL on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:44:06 AM EST

There was some heavy damage in Olympia, in large part due to the older buildings around the state capitol.

Also, the experience was pretty scary for some of my friends in downtown Seattle who work in highrise buildings. Nothing like being up on the 36th floor while the building sways several feet. There were also some people in the Space Needle elevator at the time, who apparently had quite a ride. People and cars on the sidewalks near these tall buildings were at risk from windows breaking out and falling debris.

Myself - I was just parking my car when it started shaking. I thought it was a strong wind at first but it kept getting stronger so I just sat it out. Nothing to panic about but some people weren't so lucky.


It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]
Conspiracy theory (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by fluffy grue on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:45:23 PM EST

(Damn, I bet on the wrong one making it)

Anyone see the movie Conspiracy Theory? The one with Captain Picard as the bad guy?

Maybe the government is trying to break up Microsoft right now - FROM SPACE!!! Have there been any shuttle launches recently?
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

More True Than You May Realize (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by Greener on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:11:39 PM EST

Ironically inough Bill Gates was in the middle of a press conference when the quake hit. Realvideo available here. Most people in the room either quickly dove under tables or ran for the exits as some ceiling tiles fell. Gates himself just casually strolled across the stage like nothing was wrong.

[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by BehTong on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 12:55:51 AM EST

Somebody told me about that too.

Isn't it annoying to be a public figure? People always seem to want to find fault... they're always keeping an eye on you, waiting for the first chance to point at a mistake and point the Finger of Blame. You've the conspiracy theorists who go "yeah, something Bad's happening to that Bad Guy!" and then you've those who say "heh I wonder what Bill Gates would do" -- as if he were different from the other human beings in the room; as if you were trying to find fault in his reaction.

Not that I like the guy... for one thing his business practices are highly questionable; but I just find people's reaction to events like this earthquake rather revealing. :-P

Beh Tong Kah Beh Si!
[ Parent ]

Heh. I couldn't resist. :) (none / 0) (#69)
by gromm on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 06:45:34 PM EST

You don't suppose it would be infinitely more effective, cheaper, and more accurate to nuke the site from orbit, do you?

Personally, I think that would be the best solution for everyone involved. ;)
Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]
Some notes (5.00 / 5) (#27)
by Global-Lightning on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:50:49 PM EST

1. The epicenter seems to be just west of Tacoma, near Fox or McNeil Island. McNeil Island is home to the Washington State Penetentiary

2. From preliminary reports from the Tacoma Tribune, Seattle took more damage than Tacoma, even though Tacoma was closer.

3. The Tacoma-Narrows Bridge apparently has suffered no damage. The Tacoma Narrows replaced the original bridge, which is the bridge portrayed on K5 that shook itself apart due to wind resonance.

4. The epicenter is near many military installations, including Subase Bangor, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Undersea Warfare Station, McChord Air Force Base, and Fort Lewis. No word yet on damage.

I until recently I lived 2 miles from the bridge, perhaps 7 from the quake's center. With an earthquake of this magnatude occuring near large urbanized areas, I'm happily surprised there were no casualties and damage wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Damage (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:48:52 PM EST

Preparedness and building quality can have a tremendous effect. Three quakes in modern cities during the last decade were the Loma Prieta quake, the Northridge quake, and the Kobe, Japan quake. All were around 6.8 or so, about what this one seems to be. The death toll was about 80 for Loma Prieta, about 60 for Northridge and almost 6,000 for Kobe, Japan. There was also a quake somewhere in Armenia about this time that was about the same size in which something like 25,000 people died.

How good your buildings are makes a huge difference. Seattle must have good earthquake codes.

(BTW: The Indian quake in which 19,000 people died last month was a magnitude 7.7, or about ten times the strength of this one.)
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Population (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by Paradocis on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:20:46 PM EST

I'm also sure population density plays a role in those numbers.

"El sueño de la razon produce monstruos." -Goya

[ Parent ]
Sometimes Nature trumps preparedness ... (4.00 / 2) (#67)
by thomp on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:15:46 PM EST

The Northridge, Kobe and Loma Prieta (San Francisco) earthquakes were good teaching tools for my Intro to Geology students when I was in grad school. They were similar in magnitude, with similar movement occurring along previously unknown faults, and struck areas similar in population and level of preparedness, e.g., building codes, emergency management. Yet the amounts of damage were significantly different. Why? The fault plane of the earthquake in Northridge was angled away from the center of Los Angeles while the fault plane of the Kobe quake directed all its energy right to the heart of the city. The people of Los Angeles were lucky ...

And the people down on the bay in San Francisco should have learned from the 1906 quake that you shouldn't build on soft sediments.

[ Parent ]
Some Figres To Gnaw On (4.62 / 8) (#34)
by ncohen on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:50:34 PM EST

Just for comparison:

Turkey, August, 1999: 7.8 quake, 2,000 dead
Mexico, Octber, 1995: 8.1 quake, 10,000 dead
India, February, 2001: 7.8 quake, 30,000 dead
Armenia, January, 1988: 6.9 quake, 50,000 dead
Seattle, February, 2001: 7.0 quake, 0 dead, 3 injured
"(A+Bn)/n = x, hence God exists, reply!"

Thank you for these numbers. (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by videum on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:03:32 PM EST

I have often noticed exactly how uncatastrophic violent natural phenomena end up being in this country, at least relative to the rest of the world.

These numbers help to put into perspective how nice it can be to live in a developed nation.

[ Parent ]
The richter is a hogarhythmic scale (none / 0) (#47)
by dave114 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 12:20:08 AM EST

If you take into account the fact that the richter scale is logarhythmic the only number really worth paying attention to on that list of yours is the Armenia quake measuring at 6.9

[ Parent ]
Re: logarithmic (none / 0) (#53)
by ncohen on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:24:23 AM EST

So, therefore, the fact that an increase by a factor of about 10 (7.0:7.8) on the scale and an increase by a factor of 30,000 (1:30,000) in death should be considered perfectly reasonable?

I beg to differ.
"(A+Bn)/n = x, hence God exists, reply!"
[ Parent ]

what's your point? (4.50 / 4) (#66)
by micco on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:02:44 PM EST

It's easy to say that no death is reasonable, but that's not the issue here.

The person who first mentioned the logarithmic Ricter scale was trying to point out that the difference in numbers is deceiving. The difference between a 7.0 and a 7.8 is not 11% as the numbers suggest, but more like 500%.

From a structural engineering standpoint, there is a threshold at which major damage occurs. For any given structure, a quake below this threshold will cause very little damage, mostly cosmetic. Above the threshold, the structure buckles. For the people underneath, it's the difference between a carnival ride and sudden death. That means it's perfectly reasonable to assert that the difference between a 7.0 and a 7.8 could result in many orders of magnitude in the death toll, but that's not the issue either. What's important about the numbers is not that more people die in a stronger quake but that disproportionately more people die in quakes in certain regions.

Just to add to the stats that started this thread, I was in the Loma Prieta quake in SF in '89. It was a 7.1 and 68 people died, most of them in a couple of areas like the Cypress Freeway that suffered catastropic damage. If the quake had been a little weaker, maybe the Cypress would have stood and all those people would have finished their commute. A little stronger, and more major buildings might have fallen.

Note that the third paragraph refers to "any given structure". Build a better structure and the threshold for collapse goes way up. The main reasons that 50K die in a 6.8 in Armenia and only 68 die in a 7.1 in SF is building standards. Of course there are other issues like emergency services and things that lessen the actual effect felt at the surface such as distance between epicenter and population center and the depth of the quake, but the one we can control most easily (and in advance) is building standards. Think about that next time some wannabe architect complains about the uglieness of all that structural steel propping up formerly unreinforced masonry buildings.

[ Parent ]

Car crashes (none / 0) (#70)
by dave114 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 10:47:36 PM EST

Would you find there to be a sizable difference in the number of deaths in car crashes with a relative speed of 30 km/h vs. 300 km/h?

[ Parent ]
Numbers (none / 0) (#60)
by ucblockhead on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:04:44 AM EST

Remember that the Kobe quake was only a 6.8 and cost over 5,000 lives.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
you're missing something (4.00 / 3) (#62)
by Seumas on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:10:14 AM EST

The depth of the quake.

An 8.0 fifty miles underground might cause the water in your ice tea to ripple, while a 4.0 two miles under ground might cause your house to buckle. This is one of the biggest gripes I have with these brainless twits who are acting like they just survived some sort of plane crash or something. I mean, I'm sure it would suck if I got punched in the face by mike tyson, too -- but not if there were three feet of padding between us.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

vote up: good comments (3.33 / 3) (#35)
by nickp on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:52:27 PM EST

While the news may be well-known, the comments that this article provoked really deserve voting this up. People will get a chance more than the media hype and see how real people were affected.

"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." -- Albert Einstein

Seattle--what a town! (3.60 / 5) (#46)
by FuzzyOne on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:40:27 PM EST

The only place where they riot the day before an earthquake.

What I find more interesting than the damage (3.50 / 2) (#55)
by unstable on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 08:54:32 AM EST

is the lack of damage.
even though the full brunt of the quake wasnt felt (it being some 30 miles below the surface) it still was a pretty serious one... the fact that more building did not fall and that there was no reports of major system (power, water, gas, etc) failure (other than one instance) proves that the efforts that are being made to retrofit and build buildings that are "earthquake ready" is paying off...

It could have been alot worse that it was

Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

why the lack of damage (3.75 / 4) (#57)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 10:08:48 AM EST

From The NY Times:
Scientists say the relative lack of damage from this powerful quake came, in large part, because it originated so deep within the earth -- some 30 miles beneath the surface, 40 miles southwest of Seattle.
Researchers say today's type of quake, a slab, or Benioff zone, earthquake, is the most frequent and potentially most benign of the types of earthquake in the region
Today's earthquake did not produce nearly as much damage as two recent comparable events in Japan and California. The magnitude 6.9 Kobe earthquake killed several thousand people in 1995 and the magnitude 6.7 quake in the Northridge section of Los Angeles generated $50 billion in damage in 1994.
The reason is the relative depth of the quakes, he said. Today's epicenter was some 35 miles deep, whereas the other two quakes occurred just a few miles from the surface. Scientists said while with some kinds of quakes aftershocks are typical, there were no aftershocks from today's quake and none are expected, as is typical of slab earthquakes.
I highly reccomend reading the entire article. It is very informative.

[ Parent ]
Thought for the day... (3.50 / 2) (#56)
by jd on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 09:56:53 AM EST

One online news service's headlines, today, were running: "Earthquake strikes NW US // Hubble snaps galaxy on the edge".

Maybe Reagan's "Star Wars" program -has- produced something... :)

On a more serious note, I'm amazed that Seattle escaped as lightly as it did. Think about this for a moment - eyewitnesses were reporting concrete walls being ripped apart, yet most buildings are still upright and (for the most part) intact and there's been only one death and three serious injuries reported.

This isn't just a case of Earthquake-proofing the buildings. There were several major conferences going on in Seattle at the time. Injuries and death through panic-stricken crowds in confined spaces are no less serious. Then, drivers suddenly finding that the road isn't where they expected it can wind up just as mangled as if they'd had the Space Needle drop on them, if they're not especially aware of what's around them.

I have to say, I'm impressed. Where I am, multiple pile-ups are common, even when there's 100% visibility, conditions are fine, and the world is unlikely to vanish beneath your feet at any moment. I dread to think what chaos a magnitude 6.8-7.0 earthquake (even a deep one) could cause, around here.

How major was it? (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by error 404 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:56:18 AM EST

From a human perspective, the Richter scale isn't all that great. It measures the energy, which is then divided by the area affected. A localized quake of 1 would utterly obliterate a block, and a 12 that hit an entire hemisphere evenly (OK, that can't really happen, but...) probably wouldn't knock stuff off shelves.

This particular one, I understand, was pretty deep, so it hit a wide area, dividing the energy.

Earthquakes, deadly or not, are newsworthy. When the ground moves, that upsets what we feel as the natural order of things. Just plain weird. I've been in three of them, and it stays weird. And when they happen in places you know, places where you are, places where you know people, places you have been, the weirdness is personal.

Sure, there are more relevant news stories to be covered. But do you think that, if they weren't covering the Seattle quake the TV networks would be covering the relief efforts surrounding the India quake? As for being covered here, hey, if anybody on K5 was in India at the time and cares to write up the experience, I'll certainly vote it up.

What happens to people we know and places we are familiar with is usualy more interesting to us than the same things happening to strangers and unfamilar, far places. That's just how people are. We would be better people if we cared as much about India as we do about Seattle. But the newspeople sell to us as we are, not as we should be. And as for K5, I'm thinking a first-hand report from India, or even a well-informed and personal second-hand report would be well received. But I also think those in a position to write such a report have more important matters to attend to at this point, like keeping each other alive.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Update From Olympia, WA (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by Captain_Tenille on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:29:03 PM EST

Well, things have settled down here and all, but it's still pretty messy. My brother's OK, incidentally, but the Starbucks building is hosed. :-D Also, local news is calling it a 6.8.

From the comment that mentioned Olympia getting hit bad: Yes, downtown did get hit pretty bad because of all the old buildings, but also because a good chunk of its downtown is build upon filled in bay. It is incredibly fortunate that we haven't had hardly any rain in the past month or two, or the ground here (where I happened to be during the quake) would probably have liquified and shifted all over the place. As it is, many buildings are blocked off from access; some for a week or two, some may be condemned. No one seems to have died (although there were 10 people stuck in an elevator for many hours in an old folks home that no one can enter...), but a lot of people and businesses are in the street for the time being. The Capitol Building has more damage than I thought, and a lot of state offices are in bad shape, too. Whatever your views of government are, the state is the county's primary employer, and those buildings are people's jobs.

We've had a lot of news teams here, though, so maybe other people have seen what Oly looks like.;-)

Anyway, that's what it looks like here. Apologies to all of those who have heard too much about this, but it was a long time before we were able to hear about anything.
/* You are not expected to understand this. */

Man Vs. Nature: The Road to Victory!

But Wait, There's More... (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by Captain_Tenille on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:19:06 PM EST

Now we've got reporters coming to the store and asking plenty of questions, which my boss is rolling with very nicely. Heh heh. :-)

Another interesting tidbit: my girlfriend, the First Mate, works as a nanny out in the Nisqually Valley. Her employers live in a house that has a 15-20 foot sheer cliff behind the back yard. The epicenter seems to be moving around somewhat, but one of her bosses called her last night and said that the epicenter was located below the cliff behind the house. Wierd, huh? I suppose that it was a very good thing that it was 30 miles down.

As another tidbit, if my boss has his way, we'll have more media types at the store, so if you see a store called "Archibald Sisters" on the news, and/or see a slightly balding, skinny guy with strawberry blond hair and sideburns wearing a leather jacket or with a tattoo on his left forearm, that's me! Let's see if I can get on the news! Whoo-hoo!
/* You are not expected to understand this. */

Man Vs. Nature: The Road to Victory!
[ Parent ]

EARTHQUAKE!!! | 69 comments (48 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
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