Monday, April 04, 2005

The Next Big Bang... 

Sometimes, danger has nothing to with politics and, indeed, it would be a good idea for the human race to put all politics and boundaries aside to deal with problems that have the potential to be global in nature.

I've been watching the Sumatran earthquakes with more than passing interest, and something had occured to me before the second quake, a something that doesn't seem to have started to creep into general awareness until now. You see, underneath Sumatra, not so very far from where both huge quakes hit, there's a super volcano. Generally speaking, super volcanic eruptions seem to follow the same pattern. Earthquakes. More, bigger earthquakes. Really wicked big-ass earthquakes. Boom.

The December and March earthquakes were among the biggest of this century; in fact, I believe the December quake was just upgraded (again) in size, and is now considered to be the largest in the world since 1950. The aftershocks have been frequent, and in the 6 range. For those of you not in quake country, anything over 6 is considered to be a big quake.

At the very least, I think several of the many volcanoes on Sumatra are getting ready to pop, big time, in ways that will make Mt. Saint Helens look like a cap gun. But there's also the very real possibility, given the magnitude and location of the quakes, that pretty much the whole southern half of Sumatra is getting ready to blow into the stratosphere, taking much of the island with it and screwing up much of southeast Asia (and the world climate) with tons and tons of volcanic ash.

This very real possibility is, at least, starting to get some attention...

And there's really not a whole hell of a lot we can do about it, other than monitoring the activity in the area and hoping science can at least give us the ability to predict an eruption a few days or weeks in advance.

I do have to wonder, though, why no tsunami after the second quake. It was almost as big, and happened in just about the same spot, as the first quake. Is it possible some yet-undetected shift in the seafloor yanked the kinetic energy of a potential tsunami in another direction? The kind of seafloor drop that would be indicative of, oh, a crustal readjustment due to subterranean movement of mass amounts of magma?

Then again, this could be happening in geologic time an it's quite possible that none of us has anything to worry about, that the top won't blow for a century or more.

Or it could happen tomorrow, or five minutes from now. We just don't know enough yet to know. And that's the scary part. Personally, I wouldn't plan any trips to southeast Asia for the next fifty years. But that's just me.

And there's a super volcano under Yellowstone National Park, too...

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?