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Super Typhoon Utor

We are now moving into the thick of hurricane/typhoon/tropical cyclone season.  The image here is a NASA MODIS satellite photo of super typhoon Utor that struck the Philippines today, monday August 12, 2013. 

Steve's picture

Lake Tahoe Unwrapped

Most folks visit Lake Tahoe to do some skiing in the winter, to partake of fresh mountain air in the summer, or to see a show and drop a few bucks at the casinos on the Nevada side in any season.

Likely, most Tahoe visitors aren’t aware that the Lake itself hides a big secret. To discover what that is however, we need to drain the thing --  but don’t worry, we’ll fill it back up before we leave.

john's picture

Forecasting New Zealand Earthquakes: Tradeoff Between Location and Likelihood

The recent two blogs discussed the M6.5 Cook Strait earthquake, and the prospects for other events.  In the first post, I discussed a region of 100 km radius around the epicenter of the earthquake.  This circular area gave a somewhat low probability of an M> 6 earthquake within the next year.

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Forecast Contours for New Zealand Earthquake, Cook Strait

Just in the last few minutes, signficant numbers of aftershocks have continued to accumulate.  I show a screenshot of the forecast contours in the region for M>6.5 earthquakes over the next 1 year (not yet updated to reflect the current event).  It can be seen there are significant areas of enhanced probability to the north of North Island, and off the soutwest coast of South Island.

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Magnitude 6.5 Earthquake Strikes Cook Strait, NZ, July 21, 2013

A M6.5 earthquake has just struck the Cook Strait, NZ, between North and South Island, about 50 km from Wellington, about 1 hour ago.  No word on damage or injuries.  Depth was shallow about 14.7 km, according to USGS data.  A screenshot from the Open Hazards hazard viewer ( is reproduced here. 

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On My Way to Sendai, Japan for the APRU Disaster Summer School

I'm sitting at the San Francisco airport on my way to Sendai, Japan to lecture at the Association of Pacific Rim summer school on disasters.  Sendai as most people know was the primary city affected by the March 11, 2011 M9.1 earthquake. 

As usual, my United flight is delayed.  So to pass the time, I decided to check our personal earthquake forecast tool ( to see what it might say about the chance of a major earthquake there.  Screenshot is below.  Hmmmm...

Steve's picture

A Dry Sea

Did you know that six million years ago the entire Mediterranean Sea nearly dried up?

“Big Stuff” like that is always hard to imagine, even for an earth scientist. I’ve seen dry rivers, dry lakes, and maybe a dry reservoir, but how can a whole sea 4000 meters deep and a couple 1000 km long vanish?


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