Friday, September 16, 2011

Memento Mori

I have long loved this website despite its relative simplicity which is part of its charm. The ominous skull with black background is not only cool-looking but is in keeping with the long tradition since ancient times of "Memento mori" which means "remember your death". HERE as well as below this pasted webpage is a link to the original page which you must visit in order to gain the benefit of the website's key feature which I won't give away so that you must check it out for yourself.

Mori displays streaming seismographic data measured continuously from a site near the Hayward Fault above University of California at Berkeley. The earthquake detector is a Streckeisen STS-1 seismometer that measures vertical ground velocity. Data is collected by the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and relayed to a server in the Alpha Lab. Your display is delayed 30 seconds due to frame buffering at the detector.





  1. Scientists say that earthquakes cannot be predicted, only given a probability within a set time period, about 30 years. But anyone living in the California region should be vigilant at all times, in case the big one happens. Be very watchful this next 30 days into November. An 8-9 could happen at any time.

  2. Informed seismologists are aware of one statistic they don't readily give out-major earthquakes occur in 50 year cycles. We are all familiar with the 1906 San francisco earthquake but that same year the seventh worst quake in history also occurred in Equador. Then the fifteen year period between 1950 and 1965 (fifty years after the previous majors) the worst and second ever quakes recorded happened, as well as the fifth worst, the eight worst, and the tenth worst recorded in history. Fast forward fifty years to the present and you have the third and fourth worst, the sixth worst and the ninth worst recorded in history. These included the one in indonesia that triggered the tsunami, the one in Haiti, and of course the 9.0 in Japan. They will not say Southern California is at risk, but they know more than the 63 probability over the next thirty years. Look for an 8.3-9.3 massive quake in the very very near future.

  3. Can the SAFZ produce THAT large of a quake? A 9.3?

  4. Forecasting is possible at this time whereas predicting is not possible other than in a few exceptional cases per decade like the M7.3 Haicheng, China quake in 1975 when there were plenty of foreshocks and other precursors but that was an exception not the rule.

    Anonymous, what empirical evidence supports your prediction for this month?

    However, you are correct that a M8-9 can happen at anytime however unlikely but where such quakes occur is constrained by the need for a structure or structures upon which such a large event can happen and only the Cascadia can do a 9 in Northern California up to Vancouver, BC and points in between whereas an 8 can happen on the SAFZ if enough segments fail unison or a sub-M8 happens but is joined by simultaneous rupture of one or more adjacent faults like the Sierra Madre FZ in the LA Area or the Monte Vista FZ in the Bay Area.

    Paul, the time period you use to describe a 50 year cycle is not even close to a large enough data set to prove that is actually true. In the past century that pattern seemed to sorta exist and maybe there is something cyclicle about the Great However, looking back over the past thousand years if we could that pattern might not exist.

    You are incorrect to assert that ANYBODY is saying SoCal is not at risk as NOBODY is suggesting that. Also, not even you KNOW for a fact that there is a greater than 63% probability over the next 30 years for SoCal.

    Paul, look for a M8.3-9.3 quake WHERE and constrained to what time frame precisely? You do realize folks like you are quite literally CONSTANTLY making such predictions and are ALWAYS wrong until occasionally when something does happen you and your ilk then claim you predicted it all the while ignoring that you are usually wrong and that in reality you got lucky because as the saying goes: even a broken clock tells correct time twice a day.

    One last factoid: the SAFZ is not capable of a M9 nor any other fault or combo of faults in CA other than the Cascadia SZ which is only partly off the coast of NorCal but mostly north of CA.

  5. My fullest appreciation goes to the above blogger Kimmer in his response to my comment. It wouldn't hurt you to be extra ready to run outside if the ground really starts to shake in the next month if you are anywhere near California or Western Nevada.
    Kimmer is correct in pointing out that the one hundred year time span for Great Earthquakes is too small of a sample size to make a scientific prediction. Rocks, and the weather for that matter, run on a much different concept of time than us humans do. One month, the next month, is an infinitesimal sliver of time to say a great earthquake will happen, perhaps a ludicrous claim. With that in mind, it is perfectly reasonable to throw me in with the predictors and cranks out there.
    There is no one out there who thinks this is more unscientific, wrong, boneheaded, foolhardy, than myself. Yet I still say be extra aware the next 30 days. I am predicting nothing, If asked I would go a little higher than the official 60 percent over the next 30 years, to me its closer to 85 percent over the next 8 years in the central California region.

  6. Scientists have a rudimentary ability to predict earthquakes but don't do it for two reasons. First, if they are wrong, their credibility as a scientist would be out the window, the risk of being wrong far outweighs the reward if they are right. That is why they do this probabilty thing with time and percent chance. That question can be asked two ways, while getting the same answer. You might as well ask this "please predict an earthquake using the data you have without risking your bread and butter, your livelihood, the thing that puts a roof over your head and lunch on the table." You get the same safe answer of 60ish percent over the next 30 years. And then to protect their livelihood further, they criticize the non-scientist for making a prediction with the usual excuses, one of them being the time period for the data is too short.
    Some non-scientists have told experts of their unique work only to be returned with a blank stare and a yes. Then they see their same work lauded for its creativity that had been written in their papers as the latest research. Scientists need to get out and take a chance instead of milking the system.
    Another reason is that earthquake prediction is still in its infancy. It has about the same result of the Poor Richards almanac of yesteryear. But it will get better and will someday be like watching a weatherman of today. But the scientists aren't ready for that change either.
    I like the site here, it is quite eclectic, but sadly the thoughts need a little work in originality. Get over the show and tell of it and actually give us an original thought instead of telling us something we've heard a thousand times and classifying us as the general public that takes potshots at prediction with no stake in it whatsoever. The scientists need to get out of their comfort zone and do a little better than they are because they have seemed to make a comfortable living off it. If the big one happens with no damage to the scientists they will will take note, make their comments, and then its business as usual the next day. Nothing is different.

  7. Paul, it has now been well over 30 days since your October 5th window of "heightened quake threat" began (68 days to be specific) and NOTHING happened either within that 30 days or since it came and went with no quakes of note.

    The problem is that with a myriad of amateur predictions taking place year around some lunkhead is bound to get lucky when invariably a quake of note does occur and then that person is bound to strut around as if they accomplished something.

    As the saying goes, "even a broken clock gives correct time twice a day.".

  8. Anonymous, most of your comments are unoriginal and the usual song and dance that comes from the pseudo-scientific crowd. With being a paid scientist comes the responsibility of following the scientific method and navigating the regulatory waters of the peer review process.

    Unsubstantiated comments based on "hunches" and guesses coming out of the mouths of seismologists will cause needless alarm and cost to society which is dangerous as it causes the "Little Boy Who Cried Wolf" syndrome.

    People like you whom have no accountability or responsibility have no concept of how the real world works as you have not had to abide by the scientific method in your "research" nor has your research successfully survived peer review nor do you have real-world responsibilities with real-world consequences.

    Your suggestion that quake prediction will become (A) possible and (B) as reliable as weather prediction is flawed because we don't even have weather prediction, ONLY weather forecasting replete with the sorts of probabilities your comments ridicule. The suggest that quake forecasting become as reliable as weather forecasting is probably over-optimistic.

    Your suggestion that seismologists focus on forecasting and not prediction because they lack the balls to do so is not only false but it is reprehensible. Seismologists unlike you and your ilk must follow the evidence whereas you can say any fool thing you like with no consequences other than getting slammed by skeptics like me.

    Scientists are human beings and thus are flawed and sometimes make errors even when following the scientific method. That is where peer review comes in to weed out the bad science. Yes, peer review is a human process and thus imperfect but it is the best system we can formulate being the imperfect and limited creatures we are in this universe.