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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.

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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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Escape from Egypt

Are you familiar with the story of Exodus? About 4000 years ago, Moses led the Hebrew people out of Egypt.  They were however, closely pursued by Pharaoh’s chariots. The story states that some relative motion of water and land delayed or destroyed the Egyptian forces and allowed the Hebrews to escape.

We’ve all seen the Hollywood telling of this event in the “Ten Commandments”, where Charlton Heston splits the Red Sea for a while, then zips it back up over the tailing troops.

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Acqua Alta – Part II

Earlier we learned half of the Acqua Alta story in terms of favorable tides. The second half of the lesson involves resonance.

Thumbnail Tutorial Continued:

(2) Resonance: I discussed resonance previously here under the title “Seismic Slosh”...

In that example, the resonance was in reservoirs and the cause was seismic shaking. 

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Acqua Alta – Part I

 Have you ever visited Venice Italy? From a geophysical perspective (Is there any other?), Venice has a curious attribute. Certain times of the year the city endures Acqua Alta – high water- when the sea rises up and floods the lowest areas of town. City workers dutifully unpack and set up wooden walkways so folks can get about the place without wet feet. Cafe owners construct temporary platforms in front of their shops tempting tourists to partake coffee and biscotti whilst high and dry. In a few days the flood

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Gulf Tsunami

Not likely that you’ve ever thought much about Gulf of Mexico tsunami. Seeing that most tsunami birth from large earthquakes, and that the Gulf hosts only smallish ones, your lack of concern is justified. Still, things other than quakes cause tsunami -- submarine landslides for one.

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Mystery Meteor

Have you read about that meteor that blew up over Russia a few days ago? Amazing. A rock from space hasn’t caused serious damage and human injury since  --- I don’t know -- the days of Christopher Columbus. True, a similar but bigger meteor exploded over Siberia in 1908, but that area was virtually uninhabited.

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Japan’s Next Earthquake

If you’ve been reading John’s blog, you know that he is forecasting a large earthquake near Japan “sometime soon”. 

Have you heard of the term ‘card counting’?  Strategists employ the technique to predict the outcome of the casino game “21”. Well, John is basically ‘quake counting’.

All around the world, earthquake statistics follow a fairly universal pattern. 

(A) If in a given region over a given period of time you have experienced a certain number of magnitude 5 quakes,  then you’d expect one of magnitude 6.

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Sandy Surge

I read that Hurricane Sandy inflicted 50 billion dollars of property damage. I don’t know what fraction of the 50 billion was purely wind-sourced versus the fraction caused by storm surge. Certainly, the most graphic pictures of the damage in my mind are the homes tossed helter-skelter by the latter. A close second are images of businesses and houses sitting 6 or 8 feet deep in muddy water.

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‘What if' became 'Just did’

Many of my blogs involve natural disasters either hypothetical or long past. In a workaday world, it’s understandable for one to be blasé about such things. Sure, ‘what if’ events are possible, but why care?

To counterbalance this tendency, I like to highlight cases where

                                ‘What if’   became   ‘Just did’


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