Authorities in Pennsylvania along with the FBI have been scratching their heads over multiple reports of loud booming sounds in the middle of the night by residents of Bucks and Lehigh Counties.
Following a joint investigation with the FBI, the best authorities have been able to come up with for the ominous booms which began on April 2 is that they were caused by an individual setting off “explosions.”
A statement from local authorities reads:
Since April 2, 2018 over twenty (20) explosions have occurred in the early morning hours (between hours of 0100-0430) in the Upper Bucks County area. Our local, state, and federal Law Enforcement agencies all take these events very seriously and are working dilligently to protect the citizens of our community. Keeping everyone safe is our shared number one priority. Fortunately to date no one has been injured; however, we are attempting to prevent someone from accidentally getting injured by these explosions, including the individual responsible.
THOSE STRANGE BOOMS in Bucks and Lehigh Counties, appear to have been the result of 20 some explosions. That’s what State Police are concluding. But they need help to further unravel this mystery.
Case closed, pack it up Sherlock.
One resident’s account of what happened seems to back up the explosions theory after a boom was heard in Nockamixon Township by resident Nick Zangly, who told the Bucks County Herald “it was one hell of an explosion,” who lives down the street from a 4-foot wide by 1-foot deep cavity, which he alleges opened up after the blast.
Zangli said there was “nothing in the hole, which was filled with water because of heavy rain over the weekend.” Law enforcement came out Monday to investigate the sinkhole but did not respond to any media requests.
Residents have described the noises as something falling out of the sky or an earthquake.
“I thought that somebody was making a tunnel or space junk fell out of the sky,” said Susan Crompton, who lives in Haycock Township.
“From poachers, gunfire, to explosions to a sonic boom,” said Jerry Hertz of the mysterious sound.
KYW-TV said there had been no shortage of theories among residents, but still, no clear answer of the cause.
“It’s a rumble, it actually like rumbles the ground like an earthquake would happen but with a loud like boom,” Crompton added.
“I’ve been in the military, I’ve got experience with explosives, I was a Navy diver and was definitely not a gunshot,” Hertz said.
Meanwhile, Mysterious booms are not just limited to Pennsylvania, as there have been local reports from across the country of booms rocking towns from coast to coast. Likewise, officials have zero answers to provide their citizens, it is hard to prepare for an event if it is not yet identifiable.
This has nothing to do with human impact on climate change, but instead the activity of the sun and how solar cycles impact our climate as well. It’s based on a mathematical model that shows the sun might “quiet” down in the coming years thus impacting our climate as well. This is not a climate change denial article, please read it before commenting.
A few months ago, NASA published a study showing that Antarctica is actually gaining more ice than it is losing. They made the announcement after using satellites to examine the heights of the region’s ice sheet. The findings contradict the prevailing theory that Antarctica has actually been shrinking, however. The paper is titled “Mass gains of the Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses” and was published in the Journal of Glaciology.
The authors of this study are from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the cause of this ice gain isn’t entirely known, but a number of theories are mentioned in the paper. It is worth mentioning, however that NASA was blasted by dozens of their own scientists regarding their global warming stance, even though a number of the world’s top scientists have questioned just how much an impact greenhouse gases have on climate change. You can read more about that here. (source)
Perhaps there are other factors contributing to climate change?
There are many theories as to why this is so, and one of them includes the effects of supposed global warming, but not everyone agrees. That’s a completely separate topic, however, and you can learn more about it in the articles linked at the end of this article.
When it comes to climate change, a lot of emphasis is put on human activity, and rightfully so, as our ways here need to change. Perhaps in our fervour to discover our own culpability in this shift, however, we missed a few things along the way? What about the natural cycles of climate change Earth experiences, and has experienced? It’s a scientific fact that fluctuations in the solar cycle impact earth’s global temperature, as do other massive bodies flying in and around our solar system.
The most recent research to examine this topic comes from the National Astronomy Meeting in Wales, where Valentina Zharkova, a mathematics professor from Northumbria University (UK), presented a model that can predict what solar cycles will look like far more accurately than was previously possible. She states that the model can predict their influence with an accuracy of 97 percent, and says it is showing that Earth is heading for a “mini ice age” in approximately fifteen years.
According to the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS):
A new model of the Sun’s solar cycle is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat. The model draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone. Predictions from the model suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age’ that began in 1645. (source)
Baia was the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire – the place where the rich and powerful came to carry out their illicit affairs.
Rome’s ultra-wealthy took weekend trips here to party. Powerful statesmen built luxurious villas on its beach, with heated spas and mosaic-tiled pools where they could indulge their wildest desires. One resident even commissioned a nymphaeum – a private grotto surrounded by marble statues, dedicated solely to ‘earthly pleasure’.
More than 2,000 years ago, Baia was the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire – a resort town approximately 30km from Naples on Italy’s caldera-peppered west coast that catered to the whims of poets, generals and everyone in between. The great orator Cicero composed speeches from his retreat by the bay, while the poet Virgil and the naturalist Pliny maintained residences within easy reach of the rejuvenating public baths.
It was also the place where the rich and powerful came to carry out their illicit affairs.
“There are many tales of intrigue associated with Baia,” said John Smout, a researcher who has partnered with local archaeologists to study the site. Rumour has it that Cleopatra escaped in her boat from Baia after Julius Caesar was murdered in 44BC, while Julia Agrippina plotted her husband Claudius’ death at Baia so her son Nero could become emperor of Rome.
“She poisoned Claudius with deadly mushrooms,” Smout explained. “But he somehow survived, so that same night, Agrippina got her physician to administer an enema of poisonous wild gourd, which finally did the trick.”
Mineral waters and a mild climate first attracted Rome’s nobility to Baia in the latter half of the 2nd Century BC, and the town was known to them as the Phlegraean (or ‘flaming’) Fields, so named because of the calderas that pockmark the region.
“I visited the site as a boy and the guide poked an umbrella into the ground and steam and lava came out,” Smout recalled.
The calderas were revered by the ancient Greeks and Romans as entrances to the underworld, but they also fuelled a number of technological advancements: the local invention of waterproof cement, a mixture of lime and volcanic rock, spurred construction of airy domes and marbled facades, as well as private fish ponds and lavish bath houses.
But given Baia’s sinful reputation, it is perhaps fitting that the abundance of volcanic activity in the area was also its downfall. Over several centuries, bradyseism, the gradual rise and fall of the Earth’s surface caused by hydrothermal and seismic activity, caused much of the city to sink into a watery grave, where it still sits today.
Tourist interest in the once-popular coastline was only renewed in the 1940s when a pilot shared an aerial photo of an edifice just below the ocean’s surface. Soon, geologists puzzled over boreholes left by molluscs on ruins found near the shore, tell-tale signs that parts of the hillside had once dipped below sea level. Two decades later, Italian officials commissioned a submarine to survey the underwater parts of the city.
What they found was fascinating: since Roman times, underground pressure has caused the land surrounding Baia to continuously rise and fall, pushing the ancient ruins upwards towards the sea’s surface before slowly swallowing them again – a kind of geological purgatory.
The ruins beneath the sea’s surface were the province of just a few intrepid archaeologists until recently. The underwater archaeological site was not formally designated a marine protected area and until 2002, which is when it opened to the public. Since then, 3D-scanning technology and other advances in marine archaeology have offered first-time glimpses into this chapter of antiquity: divers, historians and photographers have captured submerged rotundas and porticos, including the famed Temple of Venus (not a temple, but a thermal sauna) – discoveries that have in turn provided clues to Rome’s most outrageous debauchery.
Because of the undulation of the Earth’s crust, these ruins actually lie in relatively shallow water, at an average depth of 6m, allowing visitors to see some of its eerie underwater structures from a glass-bottomed boat, or videobarca. Local diving centres such as the Centro Sub Campi Flegreo (who partnered with the BBC on a recent documentary about Baia) also offer snorkelling and scuba tours of the submerged city a few kilometres out in the Tyrrhenian Sea. On a calm day, visitors can spot Roman columns, ancient roads and elaborately paved plazas. Statues of Octavia Claudia (Emperor Claudius’ sister) and Ulysses mark the entrance to underwater grottos, their outstretched arms flecked with barnacles.
There’s plenty to see above the water line, as well. In fact, many of the submerged sculptures are actually replicas; the originals can be found up the hill at the Baia Castle, where the Archaeological Superintendency for Campania manages a museum of relics pulled from the sea. Many above-ground Roman ruins are also visible nearby at the Parco Archeologico delle Terme di Baia, the portion of the ancient city still above sea level. Excavated in the 1950s by Amedeo Maiuri, the archaeologist who also unearthed Pompeii and Herculaneum, the on-land historical site features the remains of mosaic terraces and domed bathhouse.
Surrounding the Parco Archeologico delle Terme di Baia, modern Baia is a shadow of its former magnificence, though it still captures the spirit of idleness and pleasure. These days the coastline that was once peppered with mansions and bathhouses features a small marina, a hotel and a handful of seafood restaurants lining a narrow road running north-east toward Naples.
Time may be running out to see this lost relic of ancient Italy’s opulence: seismologists predict further volcanic activity along Baia’s coast in the near future, rendering the city’s fate uncertain once again. Twenty small earthquakes were recorded in the area this past year alone, and talk in recent years has touched on permanently closing the sunken ruins to visitors.
For now, however, visitors can search this underwater city for a hidden entrance – if not to the underworld, then at least to some spectacular subterranean treasures.
With permission from
June 10, 2017
Hundreds of tunnels — which date back at least 10,000 years — have been discovered in Brazil. Some of the tunnels feature mysterious claw marks’ on the walls.
“There’s no geological process in the world that produces long tunnels with a circular or elliptical cross-section, which branch and rise and fall, with claw marks on the walls,” says a geologist.
“I’ve [also] seen dozens of caves that have inorganic origins, and in these cases, it’s very clear that digging animals had no role in their creation.”
Experts in Brazil have discovered hundreds of underground tunnels which date back over 10,000 years.
Interestingly, experts believe that these mysterious tunnels were NOT carved by humans, but by an extinct ancient species.
The discovery was made by Heinrich Theodor Frank, a geologist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul — one of the largest federal universities in Brazil.
As Heinrich was driving on the national Novo Hamburgo highway, he noticed a strange hole of around one meter in diameter at a construction site which caught his attention.
Since he was in a hurry to get home, he did not stop. However, a few weeks later he went back to the same place with his family, where he stopped and asked them to wait a moment in the car while he investigated the tunnels.
“I noticed that it was a tunnel, about 70 centimeters high and a few meters in length. The interior was full of scratches,” explains Theodor Frank to National Geographic.
“When I got home I looked for an explanation on the internet, but I did not find anything.”
“Since then I have heard that the tunnels are huge anthills or that they were created by Indians, Jesuits, slaves, revolutionaries and even bears. Some even talk about a great mythological serpent, which dug the tunnels,” he says.
Trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, Theodor Frank eventually sent some photographs to Marcelo Rasteiro, a member of the Brazilian Society of Speleology, who responded by sending an article about paleoburrows, tunnels excavated by any type of living organism in any geological age.
“For example a worm in the Cambrian, a mollusk in the Mesozoic or a rat in the Pleistocene.”
“I didn’t know there was such a thing as paleoburrows,” says Frank. “I’m a geologist, a professor, and I’d never even heard of them.”
So who could have dug those terrifying labyrinthine tunnels, with their walls covered with scratches?
“When you explore the burrows you sometimes have the feeling that there is a creature waiting for you after the next curve as if it were the lair of a prehistoric animal,” says Frank in an article published by Discovery.
Certainly, these tunnels were not created by the natives of Brazil.
“The Indians who lived in Brazil before the arrival of the Europeans did not know about the existence of iron and therefore had no tools to dig through the hard rocks in which these tunnels are dug,” explains National Geographic.
Curiously, there are hundreds of these tunnels all over Brazil, although many Curiouslyletely filled with sediment that accumulated after the tunnels were abandoned, but the entries are still distinguished in a circular or elliptical form.
Geologist Amilcar Adamy of the Brazilian Geological Survey has confirmed the discovery of a large complex of 600-meter-long tunnels in the state of Rondonia.
Furthermore, Frank notes that “in neighboring countries such as Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia we have detected a few caves that could also be paleoburrows. In Argentina, there are many of them, mainly in the cliffs of the Atlantic coast, in Mar del Plata.”
As noted by Alfredo Carpineti from IFLScience, over 2,000 burrows have been found, including one just last Wednesday. Scientists believe they were dug between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago, although researchers are yet to properly date them.
Frank says that speleothems, or mineral deposits, growing on burrow walls could be used to calculate an age, although that hasn’t been tried yet either.
Giant Armadillos? Mega-Sloths?
“The biggest giant armadillo had a body width of 80 centimeters, while the tunnels reach widths of 1.4 meters and in addition, the ceiling is full of scratches
“I personally believe they were excavated by land sloths, a group of mammals that became extinct in that area about 10,000 years ago,” says Frank.
“There are large tunnels up to two meters high and four meters wide that were undoubtedly excavated by sloths. We do not know the specific species, but surely the largest ones (megatheriums and eremoterios) were too large to dig,” he added.
“We also do not know what the function of the paleoburrows is, perhaps the climate is an explanation: it was drier and hotter than today and the tunnels were isothermal, but this can hardly explain the complex system of tunnels several hundred meters long, which were most likely inhabited by groups of sloths or armadillos.
“The roofs and walls of many tunnels are polished, probably thanks to the friction of the animals’ fur, which moved through the tunnels for decades or even centuries,” concluded Frank.
“So if a 90-pound animal living today digs a 16-inch by 20-foot borrow, what would dig one five feet wide and 250 feet long?” asks Frank. “There’s no explanation – not predators, not climate, not humidity. I really don’t know.”
However, as noted by Discovery, another mystery is the strange geographic distribution of the tunnels.
The so-called paleoburrows are common in southern parts of Brazil, in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, they are, so far, almost unknown just to the south in Uruguay.
Furthermore, experts note that very few of them have been discovered in northern parts of Brazil, and only a handful of possible burrows have been found in other South American countries.
Source and references:
Get Lost in Mega-Tunnels Dug by South American Megafauna
This Massive Tunnel in South America Was Dug by Ancient Mega-Sloths
Cover image credit: Amilcar Adamy/CPRM
“Western journalists are sounding the alarm – America’s youth is now fascinated with the concepts of socialism and communism. According to the poll conducted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), a half of all Americans under 35 years would love to be represented by a socialist president”
The University of Washington has already presented seismological charts showing a gigantic geological rift that stretches across the central states of the US from north to south, and marks the region of a possible split of the North America continent in two. As it has been reported by geologists, for the first time this anomaly was discovered in 1960’s, when scientists found a strange underground rupture along the Lake Superior that would run south. The discovery surprised American scientists back then since there were no mountains in that area. Following studies showed that this anomaly was stretching across the whole continent, resembling in its form and shape the giant cracks in the east of Africa.
It’s been reported that the tectonic plate beneath the southeastern regions of the United States is being fragmented by the layers of earth above it, which may be the cause of future earthquakes in the Washington area and other cities on the east coast, where basically no preconditions for the emergence of aftershocks, according to Live Science.
According to Berk Biryol from the University of North Carolina, in recent years the Washington area and the areas around other large cities in the east of the country faced a pretty intense seismic activity, which at first puzzled seismologists since the east of the country is residing on a stable continental crust that must prevent any earthquake from occurring.
In recent years, the relationship between fracturing and the mounting number of earthquakes has been brought to light by the US Geological Survey (USGS), that would note that the number of earthquakes in the US has increased drastically over the last six years. In fact, it expects an abrupt increase in the number of seismic events in some regions of the country where fracturing is being used including Oklahoma, California, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Ohio, Alabama and New Mexico.
But the split in the United States is not being predicted by the USGS alone, since the recent seismic political events aggravated the growing discord within the US society in the wake of the US presidential campaign.
Western journalists are sounding the alarm – America’s youth is now fascinated with the concepts of socialism and communism. According to the poll conducted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), a half of all Americans under 35 years would love to be represented by a socialist president. Politicians who profess capitalist views do only receive the support of 42% of the younger American generation. This explains the spectacular rise of DNC’s Bernie Sanders which would most certainly become the next president, if Hillary didn’t use her wealth and connections to replace him as the sole Democratic candidate.
The German newspaper Tagesspiegel points out that this election campaign “undermines the belief that most Americans share the idea about living in a democratic and constitutional state.” The newspaper notes that there’s been a lot of speculations about the possible armed resistance to the “US corrupt government system” lately, no matter how unlikely the future post-election violence may look now.
The latest poll conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University shows that only 40% of potential voters strongly believe in the peaceful transfer of power after the US presidential elections. With six in ten viewing the candidates unfavorably, Clinton and Trump are the two most unpopular presidential candidates in ABC/Post polls dating to the 1984 election. This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,165 likely voters.
The level of antipathy towards the two main presidential candidates in terms of party affiliation has also been at staggering level, with 97% of Trump supporters despising Hillary Clinton and 95% of Hillary’s loathing the Republican presidential candidate.
It’s no wonder that there’s been a rapidly increasing number of petitions on the separation of various states, which refer to the Declaration of Independence, where the Founding Fathers explicitly stated that “any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it” To date, the petitions on the separation from the US have been filled by a total of 40 states. Texas that is viewed as the last bastion of conservatism has already gathered more than 100 thousand signatures under its petition for obtaining the status of an independent state. Behind it are Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
Therefore, aside from the major geological rift that may soon hit the US, there’s a deep social and political rift to be observed, which may, in case of loss of all confidence in the existing political system result in a major outbreak of violence.
Earth has already witnessed the existence of two supercontinent – Rodinia and Pangaea. First, the former continent formed about 800 million years ago, until the latter one appeared some 600 million years later. Scientists expect that in the future a new supercontinent will be formed that has it own name already – Amasia. This continent will be formed out of the modern North America and Asia, notes the Nature.
Who knows, maybe before Amasia even emerges we will witness a new state or even two that would replace the US?
Grete Mautner is an indepenent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
The existence of life beyond Earth, popularly known as alien life, is a highly contentious issue among researchers. However, based on the available evidence, it appears those arguing that alien life exists or existed is winning the debate.
Since the mid-20th century, there has been a significant surge in the search for signs of alien intelligence by researchers. Radios have been deployed to detect possible extraterrestrial signals; telescopes have also been mounted to search for potentially habitable extra solar planets.
The British Theoretical Physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking explained some time ago that alien life exists. According to Hawking, in a universe with 100 billion galaxies, with each containing hundreds of millions of stars, it is unlikely that Earth is the only place where life has evolved. He said his brain has rationalized that there is life somewhere apart from what exists on Earth.
The Sunday Times quoted Hawking as saying: “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is working out what aliens might actually be like.”
Moving away from Professor Hawking and what his mathematical brain is telling him about alien life, a new study published in the journal Nature has shed some light on the topic. Although the objective of the study was not to look for alien life, the analytical stage of the study chanced upon a possible life somewhere apart from Earth.
A team of researchers from University College London discovered ancient fossils in Canada’s Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt, which hosts some of the oldest sedimentary rocks known on Earth. The tiny microfossils were found to be half the width of a human hair and up to half-a-millimeter in length. Their appearance is of blood-red tubes and filaments, formed by ocean-dwelling bacteria that fed on iron.
When the fossils were studied, the researchers found they are between 3.77 billion and 4.29 billion years old. This makes these fossils the oldest ever to be discovered. The oldest microfossils previously reported were found in Western Australia and dated to 3.46 billion years old.
Lead author of the study, Matthew Dodd was quoted by Reuters as saying that if the dating is accurate, it would represent an almost instantaneous emergence of life after ocean formation. He said the discovery represents a significant milestone, demonstrating life existed on Earth at its infancy.
The researchers said their discovery shows “direct evidence” that life existed on Earth 4 billion years ago. They also stated that the emergence of life could be simple enough to begin on other planets.
However, the researchers acknowledged skepticism about whether the discovered fossils are biological in nature, or merely natural mineral formations.
“One of the big questions when it comes to early life studies is whether or not the organic carbon we find in these rocks is actually biological in origin,” Dodd said.
To answer the big question, Dodd and his colleagues used several methods; including laser-imaging to analyze the minerals associated with the organic material. They concluded that the presence of two minerals in particular – apatite and carbonite – provide strong evidence for life.
Moreover, the researchers said they noted that the microfossils’ structure closely resembles modern bacteria that dwell near iron-rich hydrothermal vents. The researchers then theorized that there’s no reason to rule out similar evidence of early life being found on other planets.
“We could expect to find evidence for past life on Mars 4 billion years ago. If life happened so quickly on Earth, then could we expect it to be a simple process that could start on other planets?” Dodd asked, stating that Earth and Mars had liquid on their surfaces at the same time.
Of course, this is not the first time researchers are suspecting that life exists or might have existed on Mars. In November 2016, NASA said it was unable to rule out possible alien life somewhere in the universe. NASA reached this conclusion after it discovered methane gas on Mars in data brought to Earth by the Curiosity Rover, a car-sized robotic machine exploring Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission.
According to NASA researchers, the methane gas may have been produced by bacteria on Mars. Most methane on Earth is produced as a waste gas by living organisms, but there are many non-biological processes that can also generate the gas.
The Earth’s crust is a 10-40km (6-25 miles) deep solid layer which sits on top of the viscous mantle and molten core. The current crust – on which all of our cities, countries, continents and oceans rest – isn’t the planet’s first.
Billions of years ago, when Earth was in its infancy, a more ancient crust covered the planet. That crust melted back into the planet’s interior long ago due to plate tectonics, or was transformed into new rocks.
The oldest portions of the current crust have been dated as 2.7 billion years old. Given that scientists believe the Earth is more than 4.5 billion years old, this leaves a huge gap between the birth of the planet and the formation of its cover.
However, a team of researchers from the University of Ottawa and the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC who were working in northern Quebec have found evidence of an even older crust dating back at least 4.2 billion years.
“The Earth is always ‘recycling’ and re-melting its crust, erasing records of its early beginnings”, explains Jonathan O’Neil of the University of Ottawa.
“Finding remnants of this ancient crust has proven difficult, but a new approach offers the ability to detect the presence of truly ancient crust that has been reworked into ‘merely’ really old rocks,” O’Neill’s colleague Richard Carlson of Carnegie said in a statement on the findings.
There is much about Earth’s ancient crust that scientists don’t understand because most of the planet’s original crust simply isn’t around any longer to be examined.
O’Neill and Carlson studied 2.7 billion-year-old rocks which make up a good portion of the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. To date the rock, the researchers measured an isotope called neodymium-142 which was produced only within the Earth’s first 500 million years.
The findings, published in the journal Science, provide vital information to understand how the first continents were built. The study also suggests that the ancient crust survived for nearly 1.5 billion years before being recycled.
The paper doesn’t provide conclusive answers for how the crust formed, but the researchers says it does provide new insight. “It gives us more tools to understand the early geodynamics,” O’Neil said. “Was [the process] the same everywhere on Earth? Or was it local? These are all questions we’ll have to answer.”
Something enormous, epoch making, is happening in Antarctica.
March 8th, 2017
Something enormous, epoch making, is happening in Antarctica.
Although the recent visits by heads of state and other high profile figures to Antarctica remain shrouded in mystery, but there are repeated suggestions that things are changing rapidly there – perhaps the pole shift is happening at a drastic rate – and something buried or hidden may have been discovered.
It is well known in conspiracy circles that the Nazi’s established a secret base in Neuschwabenland, Antarctica during WW2, and it apparently involved the UFO-type aircraft being secretly developed, though no one with any position authority has ever dared to confirm these developments in a major public way.
The U.S. launched a massive military operation after the war in Antarctica, led by Admiral Richard E. Byrd – and they were met with superior military force that ultimately repelled the American expedition. Massive secrets were suggested by the operational secrecy, the buried accounts and the unfinished business at the South Pole. The Russians, too, were involved in territorial disputes and expeditions, before international treaties brought quiet to the South Pole front.
With the recent melt, and cracking of the ice, which is expected to lead to the release of an iceberg the size of Delaware, there is reason to speculate about what we might find in the least explored and least understood land mass on the globe.
How far does that hidden history go?
Does it involve science fiction stories turned fact? Is there advanced technology, or evidence of ancient alien life present and unfrozen from the ice?
Because poles have historically shifted, Antarctica has not always been buried under a permanently-frozen wasteland, but if there was human civilization or alien contact at any point on the quiet continent, it was not during the current period of recorded human history… unless there is more to the underground world there than mankind has heretofore accepted.
Already, heated debate over the meaning of an apparent pyramid uncovered in Antarctica is raising some fascinating queries.
What is downright strange about the whole intrigue and mystery surrounding Antarctica, is that clairvoyant Edgar Cayce seems to have predicted these massive changes in the earth:
“The earth will be broken up in many places. The early portion will see a change in the physical aspect of the west coast of America. There will appear open waters in the northern portions of Greenland.”
“There will be seen new lands of the Caribbean Sea. South America will be shaken from the uppermost portion to the end; and in the Antarctic off Tierra del Fuego will be land, and a strait with rushing waters.”
“When there is first the breaking up of some conditions in the South Sea and those as apparent as the sinking or rising of that which is almost opposite it, or in the Mediterranean, and the Aetna area, then we may know it has begun.”
The planet is changing, and it could destroy life as we know it, or uncover truly unique aspects of the past.
Either way, your global warming and human climate change activity have nothing to do with it – these are planetary, geomagnetic events, impacted by changing conditions in the earth’s core, the intensity of cosmic radiation and solar events, and similar factors that either sustain life on the planet, or upend it.
One thing is clear, we know next to nothing about what is really happening on – and to – this piece of earth we call home.
Hundreds of circles in the ground of the Amazon rainforest that date back thousands of years have been discovered, but scientists don’t know what purpose they served.
Feb 10, 2017
Hundreds of circles in the ground of the Amazon rainforest that date back thousands of years have been discovered, but scientists don’t know what purpose they served.
The Amazon rainforest has long been thought of a pristine ecosystem that was untouched by humans before the Europeans arrived, but new research shows that people manipulated the landscape centuries before their arrival.
Modern deforestation in the Amazon led to the discovery of more than 450 geometrically shaped ditches, known as geoglyphs, which occupy roughly 13,000 square kilometres in the Acre state of Brazil.
These circular geoglyphs went unnoticed for centuries, because they were covered by trees. Years of deforestation in the region made them visible from the air.
Researchers say they aren’t certain what function the geopglyphs served.
Archeologists didn’t find enough artifacts to determine it was a village, and the design of the geoglyphs make a defensive or military purpose unlikely, the researchers said.
They theorize they could have been ritual gathering spaces
Though the purpose of the geoglyphs is of interest, it was how they were made that was a focus of the research.
“We immediately wanted to know whether the region was already forested when the geoglyphs were built, and to what extent people impacted the landscape to build these earthworks,” lead researcher Jennifer Watling said in a release.
Watling and the research team used technology to reconstruct 6,000 years of vegetation and fire history around two geoglyph sites. They found that humans had been altering the bamboo forests to create temporary clearings for the geoglyphs.
“Despite the huge number and density of geoglyph sites in the region, we can be certain that Acre’s forests were never cleared as extensively, or for as long, as they have been in recent years,” Watling said.
“Our evidence that Amazonian forests have been managed by indigenous peoples long before European contact should not be cited as justification for the destructive, unsustainable land-use practised today.
“It should instead serve to highlight the ingenuity of past subsistence regimes that did not lead to forest degradation, and the importance of indigenous knowledge for finding more sustainable land-use alternatives.”
The research was conducted by the universities of Exeter, Reading and Swansea, Sao Paolo, Belem and Acre and the published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Mauritius long drew the attention of geologists and other scientists because of one curious feature: it’s strong gravitational pull.
Jan 31, 2017
It’s official: A 3-billion-year-old “lost continent” lurks beneath the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, new research confirms.
Sparkly, iridescent flecks of rocks known as zircons from Mauritius date back billions of years, to one of the earliest periods in Earth’s history, the researchers found. Other rocks on the island, by contrast, are no more than 9 million years old.
“The fact that we have found zircons of this age proves that there are much older crustal materials under Mauritius that could only have originated from a continent,” Lewis Ashwal, lead author of the new study and a geologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in South Africa, said in a statement.
Earth’s crust is made up of two parts: the planet’s continents, which rise high above the oceans because they are composed of lighter rocks such as granite; and the ocean basins, which sink lower because they are made up of denser rocks such as basalt, according to a video about the new study. Whereas the continental crust may be 4 billion years old, oceanic crust is much younger, and is continually being formed as molten rock spews through fissures in the ocean floor, called midocean ridges. [See Photos of the World’s Weirdest Geologic Formations]
Plus, scientists say there’s a “99 percent chance of a new annual record in 2016”
On Monday it was confirmed that the Earth has broken an ominous climate milestone amid a wave of troubling records: July 2016 was the hottest recorded month—ever.
According to new NASA data, the global mean surface temperatures last month were 0.84° Celsius (1.51° Fahrenheit) above average and was the warmest July in their data set, which dates back to 1880.
This marks the 10th straight month to set a new monthly warming record, based on NASA’s analysis. “Every month so far this year has been record hot,” reported Climate Central‘s Andrea Thompson. “In NASA’s data, that streak goes back to October 2015, which was the first month in its data set that was more than 1C hotter than average.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases its monthly temperature report on Wednesday and it is likely theirs will reflect a 15-month streak of record-shattering heat. (Some previous reporting on monthly records here, here, here, and here.)
What’s more, because July is typically the hottest month of the year, it stands that July 2016 was “the warmest month of any in a data record that can be extended back to the nineteenth century,” according to the U.K.-based Copernicus Climate Change Service (CCCS), which last week published similar temperature results.
Global temperature usually peaks in July, when the land masses of the northern hemisphere are on average at their warmest. It varies by more than 3° C over the course of each year. The largest recent deviation from this annual cycle occurred in February this year, but July was still more than 0.5° C warmer than the 1981-2010 average for the month. This made July 2016 the warmest month of any in a data record that can be extended back to the nineteenth century.
“These record breaking extremes are the result of a cocktail of weather phenomenon and human activity,” said CCCS head Jean-Noël Thépaut. “There are higher than average temperatures over the vast majority of land and sea masses.”
Referencing the wildfires, heat-waves, marine “hot blobs,” and other extreme weather events currently ravaging the planet and its inhabitants, Thépaut adds: “We’re already seeing the human cost of hotter conditions.”
The year 2015 was declared the hottest on record and scientists have said that 2016 will likely be even hotter. Announcing NASA’s July data, climate scientist Gavin Schmidt had this to say about the likelihood of another record-smashing year:
A new study suggests the first humans probably got to America from Siberia via the Pacific coast rather than through a corridor between two giant ice sheets, as previously thought.
Head of School of Geography (UNMC), University of Nottingham
Modern humans started spreading from Africa to Europe, Asia and Australia some 100,000 years ago – a process that took about 70,000 years. We also know that at some point in the past 25,000 years, a group managed to reach America from Siberia at the end of the last ice age.
However, exactly when this occurred and which route these early pioneers took has long been debated. Now new research based on ancient DNA and plant remains from lake deposits, published in Nature, is finally helping us to answer these questions.
The study investigated a 1,500km long strip of land that was an “ice-free corridor: during the ice age, located in the British Colombia-Alberta region of Canada. For many years, scientists considered this region to be the only place where the two vast ice sheets which covered most of Canada during the last ice age did not meet. Theories of human migration therefore suggested that the earliest migrants from Siberia travelled across the Bering land bridge, exposed at that time due to lower sea levels, through Alaska, and down this open corridor, colonising North America after this time.
However, as new evidence has accumulated, scientists have started to question whether this is plausible. Radiocarbon dating, which is notoriously tricky to interpret, suggests that the ice sheets did in fact meet to make the corridor impassable for a period lasting from around 23,000 years ago until around 14-15,000 years ago. What’s more, new archaeological discoveries have revealed that the earliest human remains from America date back to 14,700 years ago – and they were discovered thousands of kilometres to the south in Chile. To get all the way to Chile by this time, these people must have arrived in the Americas much earlier – when it was impossible to pass through the ice.
The distribution of the early archaeological remains across North America also do not cluster around the ice-free corridor area, suggesting there was no progressive southward movement of humans.
The study looked at the past environmental conditions in the corridor. If it was indeed a migration pathway for humans, it must have supported the plants and animals that humans require to survive. Archaeological evidence from other areas show that early North Americans hunted large animals such as bison and mammoth, as well as fish and waterfowl during the later stages of the ice age.
Lake sediments can help shed light on the plant and animal life of this period because the successive layers of sediment allow us to step back in time to reveal a history of past environments. The researchers recovered sediment cores dating back to almost 13,000 years ago from an area of the corridor which is thought to be the last to become ice-free. Identification of the pollen grains and small fragments of plants in sediments are important in revealing vegetation development.
Lake sediments encapsulate a cocktail of partially decomposed compounds and organic remains, including DNA from the tissues and excretions of organisms – leaving a unique marker of their presence. As it gets older, the DNA breaks down into small fragments, increasing the challenge of isolating messages. The researchers used “shotgun sequencing” which screens the entire DNA cocktail to look for matches with known DNA databases.
These analyses show that around 12,900 years ago, a large lake covered this area, formed by glacial meltwaters. The surrounding vegetation was very sparse, comprising a few grasses and herbs. Around 12,700 years ago, steppe (known as prairie in North America) developed – with sagebrush, birch and willow. These enabled bison to roam the area by 12,600 years ago, followed by small mammals, mammoth, elk and bald eagles by 12,400 years ago.
The authors therefore argue that the corridor only became a viable passage for human travel around 12,700 years ago, meaning it couldn’t have been the first migration route into America. Instead, it became an alternative route slightly later on.
So where did the first humans enter the Americas? The currently favoured theory is that humans migrated via the Bering land bridge along the western Pacific coastline at a time when sea levels were lower, exposing an ice-free coastline for travel with the possibility for transport over water. The so-called “Kelp Highway Hypothesis” also suggests that marine resources were very abundant at this time, and easily capable of supporting migrant populations. Archaeologists have so far struggled to investigate this hypothesis thoroughly, however, because most remains are submerged under seas which are now around 120 metres higher than they were during the ice-age.
The study has implications for later groups of Americans including the “Clovis people” who existed between 13,400-12,800 years ago. The new data suggests these people may not have had much use of the corridor either – the steppe didn’t develop until about 12,700 years ago. However, this is controversial because another very recent genetic analysis from bison in the area suggests these animals were roaming the corridor around 13,400 years ago – making it viable for humans.
The best way to tackle these conflicting strands of evidence would be to commission further studies incorporating palaeontology, archaeology and palaeoenvironmental work to resolve the question.
New geological findings suggest that an ancient flood in a popular legend about the birth of China’s civilization might have actually occurred, but some 150 years later than historians thought.
In Chinese mythology, the tale of a great flood marks the beginning of the ancient civilization and the debut of China’s first-ever, but possibly fictional, dynasty—the Xia Dynasty. Today, researchers published a paper in Science laying out geological evidence for a huge flood on the Yellow River almost 4000 years ago that may have inspired the origin story.
“The scientific evidence of this flood would lend support to parts of the legendary history,” said Li Liu, an archaeologist at Stanford University in California and coauthor on the new paper. Specifically, the findings could lend credibility to arguments that the Xia Dynasty actually existed.
Yu the Great
The story of the Xia Dynasty starts with a flood that supposedly lasted 20 years. In ancient times, a man called Yu recruited villagers in the Yellow River valley to divert the waters that had been raging untamed for almost a decade. Over another decade, Yu and the villagers dug channels and tributaries that led the water to the sea.
Grateful countrymen crowned Yu the Great as their ruler. He started the dynastic tradition when he eventually passed his throne to his son. Modern scholars suggest that Yu’s reign started in 2070 B.C.E.—if it existed at all.
Because Chinese texts made no mention of this story for the next millennium, some scholars reject the existence of the dynasty itself, said Wu Qinglong, a geologist at Peking University in Beijing and lead author of the paper.
History in Rock
Starting nearly a decade ago, Wu found evidence of a landslide along the slopes bordering the Yellow River in the Jishi Gorge. Sediments from this landslide contained a jumbled mix of green schist and purple mudstone grains, which he also found 25 kilometers away in sediment that filled earthquake fissures at the Lajia archaeological site, an earthquake-damaged site famous for preserving the oldest intact noodles.
How did these sediments get so far downstream? To Wu, one answer seemed the most logical—a huge flood must have burst through the landslide dam, washing down sediment from higher elevations. Although he realized a flood must have carried these sediments, Wu didn’t discover its epic size until he and his team investigated more closely.
The Size of the Dam
The researchers started by calculating the size of the dam itself. They already knew about parts of the dam, but further inspection using satellite imagery revealed its breadth—the ancient landslide completely blocked the river, spanning 700 – 800 meters across, rose 240 meters above the river’s water level, and stretched downriver for more than a kilometer. Lake sediments found upstream of the ancient dam indicate that a massive lake grew and grew, holding as much as 17 cubic kilometers of water.
At the mouth of Jishi Gorge, where it opens into the downstream Guanting Valley, the researchers found boulders scattered around as if they’d been carried by a violent flood, said Darryl Granger, a geologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. They also found beds where smaller grains lay beneath larger ones. Usually, floods deposit sediment in the opposite way—the largest and heaviest rocks carried by a flood sink first, then smaller and smaller grains rain out of the passing waters. This inversely graded bed indicates that the mass of water began moving slowly—as it overtopped the dam—and then rapidly sped up when the dam collapsed, Granger said.
Using sediments found downstream of the gorge, the researchers estimated that the ancient flood would have climbed as high as 38 meters above the current river’s level. With flood discharge calculations—using the amount of water thought to have been present in the massive lake and the gorge’s geometry—they estimated that the raging waters would have carried 300,000 – 500,000 cubic meters of water per second, making it one of the largest freshwater floods on Earth in the last 10,000 years, Granger said.
“This cataclysmic flood would have been devastating for anyone living on the Yellow River downstream,” Granger continued.
Radiocarbon dating of charcoal found in ancient flood deposits on both sides of the river’s path through the Jishi Gorge revealed that the flooding occurred around 1920 B.C.E.
Piecing Together the Tale
Wu and his colleagues then compared their calculated radiocarbon dates of the flood to those from skeletal remains of children killed at the Lajia site during the same earthquake. The dates were a close match, indicating that the earthquake may have triggered the landslide in the first place.
Through research and models, a story came together: In 1920 B.C.E., an earthquake caused a landslide to tumble into the Yellow River, blocking it completely. Water accumulated behind this dam for 6 – 9 months, after which it started to pour over the top. Eventually, the 130-meter-high dam partially collapsed, unleashing a wall of water down through the Jishi Gorge and into the valley below. The flood could have lasted some tens of hours or even days, possibly creating new tributaries and channels as the water cascaded through the valley, Granger said.
Annual flooding of those tributaries could have disrupted the agricultural landscape with each rainy season, Granger continued—a possible inspiration for the myth of a 20-year-long flood.
Around 1900 B.C.E., legend says, the Xia Dynasty began after Yu the Great calmed the flooding waters. This date closely coincides with a radical cultural shift, said David Cohen, an archaeologist at the National Taiwan University in Taipei and a coauthor on the study. China’s Bronze Age started around 1900 B.C.E., he said, when urban centers and bronze centers started to rise.
One collection of urban ruins identified as the Erlitou culture, which some historians have associated with the Xia Dynasty, also dates to about 1900 B.C.E. That is too late to overlap with the dynasty if Yu truly came to power in 2070 B.C.E. However, if the newly documented flood is the flood of myth, its timing strengthens the possibility the Erlitou culture and hypothetical Xia Dynasty were linked, Cohen said.
“The [Great Flood] tale is central to Chinese identity and is known by everyone in China, just as Westerners know the story of Creation in the Bible or Noah’s flood,” Cohen told Eos. “I think many will be excited to see ‘scientific evidence’ of some truth behind this founding legend.”
Citation: Wendel, J. (2016), Evidence found for China’s ancient origin story, Eos, 97, doi:10.1029/2016EO057269. Published on 04 August 2016.
Shortly after Glen MacPherson started hearing strange humming noises, he created the World Hum and Database Project so people around the world could document their own experiences with the Hum.
Lecturer, University of British Columbia
June 20, 2016The author began hearing the sound at night, between the hours of 10 and 11 p.m.
In the spring of 2012, when I was living near the coastal village of Sechelt, on British Columbia’s picturesque Sunshine Coast, I began hearing a humming sound, which I thought were float planes.
The noise usually started later at night, between 10 and 11 p.m. My first clue that something unusual was happening came with the realization that the sound didn’t fade away, like plane noises typically do. And the slightest ambient noise – exhaling audibly, even turning my head quickly – caused it to momentarily stop. One night after the sound started I stepped outside the house. Nothing.
I was the only person in the house who could hear it; my family said they didn’t know what I was talking about.
Naturally, I assumed something in the house was the culprit, and I searched for the source in vain. I even ended up cutting the power to the entire house. The sound got louder.
While I couldn’t hear the sound outdoors, I could still hear it in my car at night with the windows closed and the ignition off. I drove for miles in every direction, and it was still there in the background when I stopped the car. I was able to rule out obvious sources: industrial activity, marine traffic, electric substations and highway noise.
When I searched on the internet for “unusual low-frequency humming noise,” I soon realized that others had conducted the same search. I was part of the small fraction of people who can hear what is called the “Worldwide Hum” or, simply, the “Hum.”
The questions motivating me and thousands of others were the same: “What’s causing this? Can it be stopped?”
The classic description of the Hum is that it sounds like a truck engine idling. For some, it’s a distant rumbling or droning noise. It can start and stop suddenly or wax and wane over time. For others, the Hum is loud, relentless and life-altering.
I eventually came across one of the few serious papers on the topic. It was written in 2004 by geoscientist David Deming (who’s also a Hum hearer).
Deming began by describing the standard history: The Hum was first documented in the late 1960s, around Bristol, England. It first appeared in the United States in the late 1980s, in Taos, New Mexico.
He then examined the competing hypotheses for the source of the Hum. Many have pointed to the electric grid or cellphone towers. But this theory is dismissed on two grounds: cellphones didn’t exist in the 1960s, and the frequency emitted by both cell towers and the electric grid can be easily blocked by metal enclosures.
He wondered whether mass hysteria was to blame, a psychological phenomenon in which rumor and “collective delusions” lead to the appearance of physical ailments for which there’s no medical explanation. The fact that so many people have researched the Hum on their own, using a search engine – rather than hearing about it from some other person – moves the conversation away from delusion and hysteria spread by word of mouth.
Deming looked at the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), an isolated military compound in Alaska that uses radio waves to study outer space and for testing advanced communication techniques – and a favorite focus of conspiracy theorists, who have accused the facility of acts ranging from mind control to weather control. He studied the possibility of otoacoustic emissions, which are naturally occurring sounds caused by the vibration of hair cells in the ear.
Deming eventually fingered Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio waves (between 3 kHz and 30 kHz) as the most likely culprit. The world’s military powers use massive land-based and airborne transmitters on these frequencies in order to communicate with submerged submarines. Radio waves at these frequencies can penetrate up to a solid inch of aluminum.
In the paper, Deming proposes a simple and elegant experiment for testing this hypothesis. Hum hearers randomly enter three identical-looking boxes. The first box blocks VLF radio signals, the second box is an anechoic (soundproof) chamber and the third box is the control.
He left the experiment for others to pursue, and while there are some practical difficulties with the design, Deming’s overall concept has motivated the experiments I am currently conducting.
A plethora of pseudoscience and wild conspiracy theories has the potential to drown out the serious work in this area. I’ve encountered seemingly serious people who have argued that the Hum is caused by tunneling under the earth, the electronic targeting of specific individuals, aliens and mating fish.
Given the need for disciplined inquiry into the phenomenon, in late 2012 I started The World Hum Map and Database Project. The database gathers, documents and maps detailed and anonymous information from people who can hear the Hum. It provides raw data for research in a strictly moderated and serious forum for research and commentary, while providing a sense of community for people whose lives have been negatively affected by the Hum.
Most people have some experience with how disruptive some types of noises can be, which is why there are often noise ordinances in many cities and towns, especially at night. There are many sufferers who dread the nighttime because of how loud and relentless the Hum can be. The Hum database is replete with descriptions of desperate people who have been tormented by the noise for years. The phrase “driving me crazy” is all too common. (I feel fortunate that, in my case, the Hum is more of a curiosity than it is an irritant.)
The project also aims to validate and normalize the phenomenon by discussing it alongside other widely reported auditory phenomena, such as tinnitus, a relatively common medical condition that causes people to hear high-pitched squealing tones. Those who experience tinnitus and also the Hum report the two as being completely different in character.
The latest update of the Hum Map, from June 6, presents roughly 10,000 map and data points, and we’ve already made some notable findings.
For example, we’ve found that the mean and median age of Hum hearers is 40.5 years, and 55 percent of hearers are men. This goes against the widely repeated theory that the Hum mainly affects middle-aged and older women.
Interestingly, there are eight times as many ambidextrous people among hearers as there are in the general population. As more data are collected from Hum hearers, I hope that specialists in demographics and inferential statistics will be able to generate more detailed results.
The historical record of the Hum is crucial, because if the current version as narrated by Deming is correct, many theories can immediately be ruled out. After all, cellphones and HAARP didn’t exist until decades after the Worldwide Hum was first documented in England in the late 1960s. I currently have a researcher digging into the Times of London digital archive to search for mentions of the Hum going back to the 18th and 19th centuries. If convincing examples are found, then the direction of my research will shift dramatically because all modern technologies could be ruled out.
In my view, there are currently four hypotheses for the source of the world Hum that survive the most superficial scrutiny.
The first hypothesis – argued by Deming and the one I’m currently pursuing – is that the Hum is rooted in Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio transmissions. It’s increasingly accepted now that the human body will sometimes experience electromagnetic (EM) energy and interpret it in a way that creates sounds. This was established for high-frequency EM energy by the American neuroscientist Alan Frey in his infamous “microwave hearing” experiments, which showed that certain radio frequencies can actually be heard as sounds.
Today, there are biophysical models that predict and explain the impact VLF EM energy has on living tissue. I have designed and built a VLF radio blocking box that should be able to test whether VLF radio frequencies are a prerequisite for generating the Hum.
The second hypothesis is that the Hum is the grand accumulation of low-frequency sound and human-generated infrasound (sounds with audio frequencies below roughly 20 Hz and which can be felt more than they can be heard). This includes everything from highway noise to all manner of industrial activity.
The third is that the Hum is a terrestrial or geological phenomenon that generates low-frequency sounds or perceptions of those sounds. For example, there is a well-documented history of animals predicting earthquakes and taking action to save themselves. From an evolutionary perspective, there may be survival value in having members of a population highly sensitive to some types of vibrations. When it comes to the Hum, some humans may have a similar physiological mechanism in place.
The fourth is that the Hum is an internally generated phenomenon, perhaps rooted in a particular anatomical variation, genetic predisposition or the result of toxicity and medication.
The Hum is now the subject of serious media coverage and, increasingly, scientific scrutiny. The overall goal of my project and the people who contribute to it is to find the source of the Hum and, if possible, stop it.
If the Hum is man-made, then my task is to raise public awareness and advocate turning away from the technologies that are causing it. If the source is exogenous and natural, there’s the possibility that there may be no escape from it, apart from masking it with background sounds.
Of course there is the remote possibility that one of the more exotic explanations will prove to be correct. But, as in all science, it seems best to start with what we know and is plausible, as opposed to what we don’t know and is implausible.
966 roads, 90 fiber optic cables, 39 gas pipes and 141 power lines could be impacted.
Photo Credit: IrinaK/Shutterstock
The director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, Thomas Jordan, made an announcement recently that would have sent a chill down the spine of every Californian: that the San Andreas fault appears to be in a critical state and as such, could generate a large earthquake imminently. Of course, the reiteration of the seismic hazard to Californians will be nothing surprising, but what is new is the warning that the southern portion of the fault “looks like it’s locked, loaded and ready to go.”
Why is this eminent seismologist making these alarming statements? Well, the fact is that there has not been a major release of stresses in the southern portion of the San Andreas fault system since 1857. In simple terms, the San Andreas is one of many fault systems roughly marking the border between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. Both plates are moving in an approximately northerly direction but the Pacific plate is moving faster than its North American counterpart, meaning that stresses between the plates are constantly building up.
In 1906, some of these stresses were catastrophically released in the San Francisco Bay area in a 7.8 magnitude event and again, in northern California, during the 6.9 magnitude 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Events of these magnitudes, however, have not occurred along the San Andreas fault in the south of the state—the 1994 Northridge event was associated with a nearby, but separate, fault system—leading to the suggestion that one is imminent and, given the amount of stress that might actually have accumulated, when it arrives it will be the “Big One.”
How Big Is “Big”?
So just how big could this potential earthquake be and is it possible that the destruction demonstrated in the film San Andreas could actually come to fruition?
In short, Californians will be (reasonably) pleased with the answers to these questions. In the film, the San Andreas fault produces an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0. While not unheard of globally, earthquakes of this size are generally confined to regions of the earth where subduction—where one tectonic plate is being forced below another—is happening, for example in Chile and Japan. The tectonic situation in California is different. Here, two plates are sliding past each other.
As such, recent predictions limit the possible maximum earthquake magnitude along the San Andreas fault system to 8.0, although with a 7 percent probability estimate that such an event could occur in Southern California in the next 30 years; over the same period, there is a 75 percent chance of a magnitude 7.0 event. While magnitudes of 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0 might sound negligibly different, the energy that such events would unleash varies significantly, with a magnitude 9.0 event releasing 32 times more energy than a magnitude 8.0 and 1,000 times more energy than a magnitude 7.0.
Obviously, however, be it a 7.0 or an 8.0, damage is inevitable, but the whole sequence of events, as depicted in the film, is unlikely. For example, the San Andreas fault is not beneath the ocean and as such, any slippage along it could not displace water to the extent that a tsunami would be generated. The opening up of a massive chasm is also from the land of fantasy, as the plates are sliding relative to each other, not away from each other.
What is realistic, however, is that a great amount of destruction is likely. While the building codes in California are stringent, recommending retrofitting of seismic protection measures to older buildings and preventing the construction of new buildings near to known fault lines, there is no way to make a building 100 percent safe.
In an attempt to understand the effects of a large, southern San Andreas earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey modelled a 7.8 magnitude event, with slippage of 2-7 metres, to represent the stresses that have built up in the area since the last large event.
From this model, it was found that damage would be most severe to constructions straddling the fault. Fortunately, constructions of this sort are few and far between following the 1972 Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act. What would be affected by this slippage, however, are the 966 roads, 90 fiber optic cables, 39 gas pipes and 141 power lines that cross the fault zone.
The total cost of damage to buildings was estimated at $33 billion, with modern buildings faring well but older buildings being particularly susceptible. Fires would rage—as they did following the Northridge earthquake—as gas mains, and mains water pipes, become severed; in fact, the damage from resulting fires is estimated as more costly than that resulting from the initial shaking.
The overall death toll is estimated at 1,800. And just when things don’t look like they can get any worse, the main event will have destabilised the tectonics of the region to such an extent that a series of potentially powerful aftershocks will begin. For example, in 2011, Christchurch, New Zealand was struck by a 6.2 magnitude event and since then the city and surrounding region have experienced more than 10,000 aftershocks.
Fortunately, the film San Andreas is pure fiction, featuring the levels of exaggeration we are all used to from film makers who are, ironically, also based in southern California.
Even so, in all probability, the San Andreas is likely to generate a significant earthquake in the not too distant future. When it arrives, the damage will be significant and southern California will be massively affected. But Californians are no strangers to these events and the infrastructure of the state, in recent times, has been designed with earthquake protection in mind.
Forget tsunamis and deep chasms opening up, but do expect violent shaking, building damage, fires and widespread economic impacts as the region is out of action for potentially a long period of time
FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million.
Comment: There are signs all over the place that there is something “happening” in the Pacific Northwest that could lead to this disaster:
Los Angeles gas well leak critical – Methane apparently erupting from multiple sites
Spectacular drone footage shows two ‘monster’ sinkholes in Harbor, Oregon
Coast Guard preps for possible Cascadia Subduction Zone quake
Officials baffled by widening sinkhole in Rainier, Oregon
Continuous tremor under Puget Sound as Washington state continues rattling since 4.3 earthquake on December 30th
El Nino wreaking havoc on Pacific Coast from Chile to California
Prelude to the Pacific Northwest ‘big one’? Mini tsunami in Washington caught on video
Data buoy warning of “event” off coast of Oregon could be precursor to devastating earthquake – Mainstream media immediately downplays event
When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku, Japan, Chris Goldfinger was two hundred miles away, in the city of Kashiwa, at an international meeting on seismology. As the shaking started, everyone in the room began to laugh. Earthquakes are common in Japan—that one was the third of the week—and the participants were, after all, at a seismology conference. Then everyone in the room checked the time.
Seismologists know that how long an earthquake lasts is a decent proxy for its magnitude. The 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta, California, which killed sixty-three people and caused six billion dollars’ worth of damage, lasted about fifteen seconds and had a magnitude of 6.9. A thirty-second earthquake generally has a magnitude in the mid-sevens. A minute-long quake is in the high sevens, a two-minute quake has entered the eights, and a three-minute quake is in the high eights. By four minutes, an earthquake has hit magnitude 9.0.
When Goldfinger looked at his watch, it was quarter to three. The conference was wrapping up for the day. He was thinking about sushi. The speaker at the lectern was wondering if he should carry on with his talk. The earthquake was not particularly strong. Then it ticked past the sixty-second mark, making it longer than the others that week. The shaking intensified. The seats in the conference room were small plastic desks with wheels. Goldfinger, who is tall and solidly built, thought, No way am I crouching under one of those for cover. At a minute and a half, everyone in the room got up and went outside.
It was March. There was a chill in the air, and snow flurries, but no snow on the ground. Nor, from the feel of it, was there ground on the ground. The earth snapped and popped and rippled. It was, Goldfinger thought, like driving through rocky terrain in a vehicle with no shocks, if both the vehicle and the terrain were also on a raft in high seas. The quake passed the two-minute mark. The trees, still hung with the previous autumn’s dead leaves, were making a strange rattling sound. The flagpole atop the building he and his colleagues had just vacated was whipping through an arc of forty degrees. The building itself was base-isolated, a seismic-safety technology in which the body of a structure rests on movable bearings rather than directly on its foundation. Goldfinger lurched over to take a look. The base was lurching, too, back and forth a foot at a time, digging a trench in the yard. He thought better of it, and lurched away. His watch swept past the three-minute mark and kept going.
Oh, shit, Goldfinger thought, although not in dread, at first: in amazement. For decades, seismologists had believed that Japan could not experience an earthquake stronger than magnitude 8.4. In 2005, however, at a conference in Hokudan, a Japanese geologist named Yasutaka Ikeda had argued that the nation should expect a magnitude 9.0 in the near future—with catastrophic consequences, because Japan’s famous earthquake-and-tsunami preparedness, including the height of its sea walls, was based on incorrect science. The presentation was met with polite applause and thereafter largely ignored. Now, Goldfinger realized as the shaking hit the four-minute mark, the planet was proving the Japanese Cassandra right.
For a moment, that was pretty cool: a real-time revolution in earthquake science. Almost immediately, though, it became extremely uncool, because Goldfinger and every other seismologist standing outside in Kashiwa knew what was coming. One of them pulled out a cell phone and started streaming videos from the Japanese broadcasting station NHK, shot by helicopters that had flown out to sea soon after the shaking started. Thirty minutes after Goldfinger first stepped outside, he watched the tsunami roll in, in real time, on a two-inch screen.
In the end, the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed more than eighteen thousand people, devastated northeast Japan, triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, and cost an estimated two hundred and twenty billion dollars. The shaking earlier in the week turned out to be the foreshocks of the largest earthquake in the nation’s recorded history. But for Chris Goldfinger, a paleoseismologist at Oregon State University and one of the world’s leading experts on a little-known fault line, the main quake was itself a kind of foreshock: a preview of another earthquake still to come.
Most people in the United States know just one fault line by name: the San Andreas, which runs nearly the length of California and is perpetually rumored to be on the verge of unleashing “the big one.” That rumor is misleading, no matter what the San Andreas ever does. Every fault line has an upper limit to its potency, determined by its length and width, and by how far it can slip. For the San Andreas, one of the most extensively studied and best understood fault lines in the world, that upper limit is roughly an 8.2—a powerful earthquake, but, because the Richter scale is logarithmic, only six per cent as strong as the 2011 event in Japan.
Just north of the San Andreas, however, lies another fault line. Known as the Cascadia subduction zone, it runs for seven hundred miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, beginning near Cape Mendocino, California, continuing along Oregon and Washington, and terminating around Vancouver Island, Canada. The “Cascadia” part of its name comes from the Cascade Range, a chain of volcanic mountains that follow the same course a hundred or so miles inland. The “subduction zone” part refers to a region of the planet where one tectonic plate is sliding underneath (subducting) another. Tectonic plates are those slabs of mantle and crust that, in their epochs-long drift, rearrange the earth’s continents and oceans. Most of the time, their movement is slow, harmless, and all but undetectable. Occasionally, at the borders where they meet, it is not.
Take your hands and hold them palms down, middle fingertips touching. Your right hand represents the North American tectonic plate, which bears on its back, among other things, our entire continent, from One World Trade Center to the Space Needle, in Seattle. Your left hand represents an oceanic plate called Juan de Fuca, ninety thousand square miles in size. The place where they meet is the Cascadia subduction zone. Now slide your left hand under your right one. That is what the Juan de Fuca plate is doing: slipping steadily beneath North America. When you try it, your right hand will slide up your left arm, as if you were pushing up your sleeve. That is what North America is not doing. It is stuck, wedged tight against the surface of the other plate.
Without moving your hands, curl your right knuckles up, so that they point toward the ceiling. Under pressure from Juan de Fuca, the stuck edge of North America is bulging upward and compressing eastward, at the rate of, respectively, three to four millimetres and thirty to forty millimetres a year. It can do so for quite some time, because, as continent stuff goes, it is young, made of rock that is still relatively elastic. (Rocks, like us, get stiffer as they age.) But it cannot do so indefinitely. There is a backstop—the craton, that ancient unbudgeable mass at the center of the continent—and, sooner or later, North America will rebound like a spring. If, on that occasion, only the southern part of the Cascadia subduction zone gives way—your first two fingers, say—the magnitude of the resulting quake will be somewhere between 8.0 and 8.6.That‘s the big one. If the entire zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2. That’s the very big one.
Flick your right fingers outward, forcefully, so that your hand flattens back down again. When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. (Watch what your fingertips do when you flatten your hand.) The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”
In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million. “This is one time that I’m hoping all the science is wrong, and it won’t happen for another thousand years,” Murphy says.
In fact, the science is robust, and one of the chief scientists behind it is Chris Goldfinger. Thanks to work done by him and his colleagues, we now know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next fifty years are roughly one in three. The odds of the very big one are roughly one in ten. Even those numbers do not fully reflect the danger—or, more to the point, how unprepared the Pacific Northwest is to face it. The truly worrisome figures in this story are these: Thirty years ago, no one knew that the Cascadia subduction zone had ever produced a major earthquake. Forty-five years ago, no one even knew it existed.
In May of 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, together with their Corps of Discovery, set off from St. Louis on America’s first official cross-country expedition. Eighteen months later, they reached the Pacific Ocean and made camp near the present-day town of Astoria, Oregon. The United States was, at the time, twenty-nine years old. Canada was not yet a country. The continent’s far expanses were so unknown to its white explorers that Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned the journey, thought that the men would come across woolly mammoths. Native Americans had lived in the Northwest for millennia, but they had no written language, and the many things to which the arriving Europeans subjected them did not include seismological inquiries. The newcomers took the land they encountered at face value, and at face value it was a find: vast, cheap, temperate, fertile, and, to all appearances, remarkably benign.
A century and a half elapsed before anyone had any inkling that the Pacific Northwest was not a quiet place but a place in a long period of quiet. It took another fifty years to uncover and interpret the region’s seismic history. Geology, as even geologists will tell you, is not normally the sexiest of disciplines; it hunkers down with earthly stuff while the glory accrues to the human and the cosmic—to genetics, neuroscience, physics. But, sooner or later, every field has its field day, and the discovery of the Cascadia subduction zone stands as one of the greatest scientific detective stories of our time.
The first clue came from geography. Almost all of the world’s most powerful earthquakes occur in the Ring of Fire, the volcanically and seismically volatile swath of the Pacific that runs from New Zealand up through Indonesia and Japan, across the ocean to Alaska, and down the west coast of the Americas to Chile. Japan, 2011, magnitude 9.0; Indonesia, 2004, magnitude 9.1; Alaska, 1964, magnitude 9.2; Chile, 1960, magnitude 9.5—not until the late nineteen-sixties, with the rise of the theory of plate tectonics, could geologists explain this pattern. The Ring of Fire, it turns out, is really a ring of subduction zones. Nearly all the earthquakes in the region are caused by continental plates getting stuck on oceanic plates—as North America is stuck on Juan de Fuca—and then getting abruptly unstuck. And nearly all the volcanoes are caused by the oceanic plates sliding deep beneath the continental ones, eventually reaching temperatures and pressures so extreme that they melt the rock above them.