earthquakeWith the onslaught of recent quakes in the bay, it’s only natural for people to start speculating about what’s going to happen these days. Whether it’s our very own Yoshua or professors falsely predicting a 6.0 and then confessing they pulled that prediction out of … nowhere, there’s no tuning out the quake talk — but what’s real and what are just myths?

Well, to start, there is actually no evidence of a large earthquake hitting the Berkeley area immediately despite a viral email saying it will come in the next few weeks. Geologists can’t exactly predict earthquakes but many believe that the chances of a major one hitting in the next 30 years is 67 percent in the Bay Area and 60 percent in Southern California.

Regardless of this vague estimate, here are a few myths about earthquakes that have been debunked:

California will fall into the sea: False, but there could be landslides that change the shape of the coastline. read more »

Living dangerouslyDear Mr. Earthquake,

The Daily Clog here.

Oh, dear childhood companion, what’s become of you? For the past 20 years, we’ve embraced you, accepted you after your tantrums, even been a little bit proud of you (after all, how many people can say that they’ve survived six earthquakes at the age of four?)

But your recent behavior has us a little concerned. read more »

sensorThousands of tiny Post-it-note-sized seismic sensors hooked up to home computers are the future of earthquake forecasting. People who live in vulnerable areas (for example, everyone near the Hayward Fault, such as, oh, you know, almost every single UC Berkeley student) can volunteer to install one with a commitment of at least one year.

“With thousands of volunteers hosting our seismic sensors, forming dense networks in these regions, we’ll be able to get data on a level of detail and with a degree of accuracy that we could only dream about before,” said Jesse Lawrence, assistant professor of geophysics at Stanford University, where the project is based.

What this means in the long term is better earthquake forecasting, a more comprehensive understanding of seismic effects on a variety of building types and earlier warnings for Bay Area residents, so that when that big one finally hits, we’ll survive … even if our homes and baby earthquake sensors don’t.

Image source: Stanford University, Department of Geophysics
‘Citizen-seismologists’ sought to host tiny earthquake sensors on their computers [Stanford Report]

Sorry, football fans, but it looks as if this Saturday’s game against Washington will be the last in Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium until 2012 football season. The culprit is, unsurprisingly, earthquake renovation and seismic-retrofit.

The 2011 season, then, will have all its games in San Francisco at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park. Besides the fact that it is a mission to get to, the relocation of games means a major loss of business for a lot of restaurants and hotels in Berkeley.

With this in mind, envisioning next year’s football games is sort of difficult — not that we were all that involved with football in the first place. But really, how are all the football shenanigans going to go down? Will students still head over to the frats or whatnot for pre-gaming then drunkenly invade the BART by the thousands before somehow finally making it home? Football games are exhausting enough as it is! Luckily this situation only lasts one season, and will make later visits to Memorial Stadium a lot safer.

We can power through this, Bears!

Image Source: CarbonNYC under Creative Commons
Last home game until 2012 poses economic questions [Berkeleyside]

A squadron of volunteers, including a liaison from the Berkeley born What If? Foundation, flew to Haiti this week bearing food, first aid and water. Since 2000, Margaret Trost’s foundation has supplied up to 1,500 meals per day to poverty-stricken Haitian kids via St. Clare’s Church in Port-au-Prince. This 7.0 magnitude devastation has called Trost and her fellow Berkeley coordinators to kick some serious relief aid butt, Paul Farmer style.

In related news, three UC Berkeley grad students (who had been in Haiti pre-earthquake working on various sustainable development projects) are safe, unharmed and have elected to stay and put some sweat equity into the relief effort.

After all, in the face of destroyed homes, a dilapidated presidential palace, and the need to raise billions of dollars to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, sometimes a dixie cup of H20 and a few handfuls of non-perishable dry goods is all a person can think to ask for.

Image Source: Garrett Crawford under Creative Commons
Bay Area Haiti Help on the Way [NBC Bay Area]

A Berkeley study of the San Andreas fault after the 2004 Sumatra earthquake found a heightened number of earthquakes that run up in our spot. On the upside, though, their magnitude was also smaller than normal.

But the researchers’ conclusions are still speculative, according to some. Though the data the researchers were working with was extensive, it was gathered from a long time ago, a real long time ago—about 20 years. Thus they were able to compare a whole heap of data points from way before Slim Shady was in demand to that of the post-2004 San Andreas land—including Parkfield, which is where the data comes from.

Which reminds us of the looming threat of the big one and what we can do to be prepared.

Image Source: Frank’s Images under Creative Commons
UC Berkeley study ties 2004 Sumatra quake to California temblors [LA Times]

This LA Times article about the latest earthquake findings may be a little too scientific for the average, blog-reading Joe, so let’s break it down for you: for the past few years, scientists have tested ultra-sensitive pressure detection devices in the San Andreas fault. So far, these devices possibly predicted two earthquakes–one measuring a magnitude 1, and the other measuring a magnitude 3–up to 10.5 hours before they both occurred. More experiments are necessary, however, before we can all jump for joy and confirm that the devices do, indeed, predict tremors with accuracy.

read more »

No, the most dangerous place in Berkeley is not your lecture hall during an O-Chem final. It’s not Eshleman Hall during an earthquake either.

Where is it then? In the hills, alive with the sound of residents totally freaking out.

East Bay Express reports that the Panoramic Hill neighborhood is at risk:

bq. It’s up where million-dollar homes are vulnerable to fires and earthquakes, and where the only road in or out is a one-lane street too narrow and winding for a full-size fire truck, let alone a smooth escape route for panicking residents.

Oh, the troubles of living in a million-dollar home. On a hill. With just a terrible view of the bay.

OK, so living in the Panoramic Hill area isn’t all peachy keen. Apparently, it’s long overdue for an alternate access road. According to EBE, Berkeley wanted to consider the feasibility of the road in the ’50s and then again in the ’70s. But nothing ever came of it.

Maybe this time around, the city will look into doing something about increasing the safety (or at least decreasing the risk) of the neighborhood.

But the more important point is does any Berkeley student even really care?

Probably not, considering half of you are in SoCal right now.

A Dangerous Place [East Bay Express]