Posted by: mrpeatie | May 13, 2008

More Mother Nature

Mother Nature is back in the news. She must be PMSing this week or something. Hot on the heels of a volcano eruption in Chile, a deadly tornado outbreak in the US, and a devastating cyclone in the Indian Ocean, we get a powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake in central China.

Such a powerful earthquake was felt over a wide spread area causing some serious damage to many structures that weren’t build to sustain such forces. There have been horrific stories of entire towns being flattened and cut off and schools completely collapsing. To give you an idea of how strong this quake was, if it had occurred in the central US, somewhere around that fault in Missouri, it would have been felt, on some level, from Maine to California.

Most folks don’t completely grasp the numbers associated with earthquakes. It’s based on the Richter Scale which assigns an earthquake a number based on the amount of seismic energy released. Wikipedia has some handy charts and info to put the numbers into perspective.

To put this earthquake in historical context, it was larger then the two most recent earthquakes in California. The 1994 Northridge quake measured 6.7 and the 1989 San Francisco quake measured 6.9. But it was much weaker then the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that measured 9.3. That one was so strong it actually shook the entire planet like a bell, ever so slightly affecting the entire planet’s rotation.

And did you know the largest earthquake recorded in the US, east of the Mississippi, was right here in Charleston in 1886. It measured between 6.6 and 7.3. Scary thought.

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