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Earth begins to “wobble” a few months before a giant earthquake

Earth begins to “wobble” a few months before a giant earthquake 86

A new study by an international team of geoscientists shows that a strange turn in the Earth’s movement occurred before two of the largest earthquakes in history — the M8.8 great Maule earthquake in 2010 and the M9 Tohoku-Oki earthquake in 2011, which caused a catastrophic tsunami and the destruction of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Researchers hope that these movements, which they call “oscillations,” can warn seismologists in the future and give countries enough time to prepare for the disaster.

The 2011 earthquake in Japan was the strongest in recorded history of the country, which killed more than 15,500 people.

Long before this cataclysm, a strange “wobble” of land was recorded from east to west, and then again to the east,

These movements or vibrations occur when one of the Earth’s tectonic plates slides beneath the other, which gets stuck until it breaks, resulting in an earthquake.

“What happened in Japan was a huge, but very slow wobble – it has never been seen before,” said co-author Michael Bevis, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University.

“But are all such earthquakes preceded by such oscillations?” We do not know, because we do not have enough data. This is another thing to consider when assessing seismic risk in subduction zones such as Japan, Sumatra, the Andes and Alaska. “

Bevis added that although people standing on the island would not be able to detect or notice the wobble, since the movement is only a few millimeters per month for five to seven months, the movement was evident from data recorded by more than 1,000 GPS stations throughout Japan .

Geologists from Germany, Chile and the United States analyzed these data and found a reversal shift of about 4-8 mm east, then west and again east. The group explained that these movements are markedly different from the steady shifts that are constantly generated by land masses.

“The world is broken into plates that always move in one way or another. The movement is not unusual. It is this style of movement that is unusual,” Bevis said.

The professor noted that this wobble may indicate that a few months before the earthquake, the plate under the Philippine Sea had a “slow glide”, the soft underground effect of two neighboring ocean plates under Japan, which ultimately caused a huge westerly and downward swing. This set in motion the Pacific plate and the plate under Japan, producing powerful seismic waves that pushed the whole country.

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This event caused enormous damage to all of Japan, and also led to the fact that most of the island of Honshu was shifted several meters to the east. It caused a tsunami, which reached more than 40 m, and more than 450,000 people were left homeless. Several nuclear reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant have melted. In general, it was the worst nuclear disaster since the time of Chernobyl.

Scientists studying seismic activity and plate tectonics are trying to determine the approximate magnitude of the next powerful earthquake and to predict where and when it can occur. However, lead author Jonathan Bedford, also a researcher at GFZ, explained that GPS systems are needed in some subduction zones around the world to use the results of the study to predict earthquakes.

In 2011, Japan had one of the largest GPS monitoring systems in the world, which provided the country with sufficient data and allowed researchers to analyze fluctuations in the earth’s mass several months before the event.

Chile and Sumatra also suffered from catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis in 2010 and 2004, respectively, but in those days they had less complex systems.

The group examined similar data from the 2010 Maule earthquake in Chile. The network is not so dense, but a large part of the deforming continental plate can still be traced.

Stations on land are usually slightly removed from the subduction zone, since the continental crust is stretched and shortened. However, by analyzing the time sequences of GNSS signals, the researchers found evidence of oscillation-stations suddenly shifted towards subduction zones and again changed their direction, returning to normal movement.

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Soon after the second turn, the rupture tore, and then powerful earthquakes followed.

The group hopes that by tracking fluctuations, countries at risk will be warned and get more time to prepare for the upcoming disaster, and this requires a sensor network.

“We really need to monitor all major subduction zones as soon as possible using high-density GPS networks.”


Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 101

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Planet Earth

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 102

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 103

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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