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Yesterday at 06:32 PM Saved, by Girl Scout cookies... by TeacherRO

13 days in Michigan's UP

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04/25/15 02:51 PM earthquake cluster in Idaho Panhandle by clearwater

“We’re a long way from the nearest plate boundary,” said Ken Sprenke, a professor of geophysics at the University of Idaho, explaining the Yellowstone hot spot is too far away to have caused the four earthquakes that shook North Idaho late Thursday and again Friday. “These are a real mystery.”


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04/25/15 02:04 PM Nepal Earthquake by jshannon


There may be deaths in Everest Base Camp. I slept there two nights over Easter weekend, just a few weeks ago. Yipes.


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04/23/15 09:51 PM Dam Disasters by Dagny

Would you have time to grab your BOB?

In Googling the nearly catastrophic failure of southern California's San Fernando Dam during the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, I came across this interesting overview of major dam disasters done for the state of Oregon.

I had forgotten about the Teton Dam disaster in Idaho in 1976. Now vaguely recall news reports of it.


Had no knowledge of California's "St. Francis Dam Disaster" -- the "worst civil engineering failure of the 20th Century" (according to a Smithsonian magazine article). Very interesting article that chronicles southern California's water wars and the remarkable trajectory of one William Mulholland.


"Completed on May 4, 1926, the St. Francis Dam stood nearly 200 feet tall, 700 feet long and covered 600 acres. Built into a sparsely populated mountainous canyon about 47 miles northeast from downtown Los Angeles, the area’s residents consisted mostly of farmers and workers at the dam or hydroelectric power plants, known as Powerhouse #1 and Powerhouse #2. It was the largest arch-supported dam in the world, with the ability to hold over 12 billion gallons of water, about two years worth of water for the city of Los Angeles. It cost $1.3 million to build, which was actually under budget - a tendency for a Mulholland-led project. It was Mulholland himself who opened the gate on the morning of May 13 to fill up the reservoir at a rate of 70 million gallons a day.

Less than two years later, the dam collapsed."


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04/23/15 06:39 PM 1971 San Fernando, CA (Sylmar) Earthquake by Dagny

Anyone else here live through the 1971 San Fernando (Sylmar), California earthquake?

Last night I stumbled upon a YouTube vintage video of the aftermath and it conjured some memories. My family lived in Torrance at the time (I was 8 years old). I remember waking up when it hit at 6:00 a.m. and subsequent aftershocks that would send a swinging lamp in our living room swinging a lot more than it was ever intended to. I also remember the pickup truck flattened under the freeway overpass and a subsequent school field trip to a damaged mission.

Torrance was a ways from the epicenter and I don't remember any fear but it may have been the beginning of my flirting with a career as a geologist (a road I ultimately did not travel....)

I did not realize until Googling the quake today that if the damaged San Fernando dam had collapsed approximately 100,000 people could have perished.


"The 1,100-foot dam held 3.6 billion gallons of water on the morning of Feb. 9, 1971, but it was only half full; the water level was 36 feet below the lip.

"The top 30 feet of the edifice crumbled, leaving the water only six feet from the top and fresh chunks of earth falling off with each aftershock."

"...A year to the day before the quake, the dam held 6.5 billion gallons of water, and its level was eight to 10 feet higher than the level to which the top of the dam slumped in the quake. Engineers recognized that had such a vast quantity of water spilled over the top, the entire dam would have quickly been washed away."

"...Later, a UCLA study estimated that collapse of the dam would have brought flooding that could have killed between 71,600 and 123,400 people."

"...Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey commented, "San Fernando clearly nudged the Northridge plane toward having an earthquake. It didn't happen for 23 years, but it could have happened almost immediately as an aftershock.

"For some reason, Northridge wasn't quite ready to go, and we were fortunate it wasn't, because had Northridge occurred right away, then it's pretty clear we would have killed a lot more people."

Retrospective - 41 years later:


"Quake damage also forced four freeways to be closed: Interstate 5, Highway 14, the 405 Freeway and the 210 Freeway."

Vintage video of the emergency response to the quake:


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