Earthquakes & Volcanoes

BY :Janaesha Moore

This is a picture of a Volcano that just erupted.

A volcano is a opening in the earth's crust through which molten lava ash and gases are ejected.

People that study volcanoes are called volcanology's

A earthquake is a sudden and violent shaking of the ground, sometimes causing great destruction, as a result of movements within the earth's crust or volcanic action.

Volcanoes are usually less dangerous than other natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes.

But there is no good answer if you don't limit it into a specific context: which volcano? dangerous to what - people, property, etc.? during which type of activity? at which location?

Volcanoes have a serious of hazards (e.g. lava flows, ash fall, pyroclastic flows, climate changes on a global scale) that relate into different dangers or risks. The risks when visiting an active volcano depend on which risk zones of the volcano are visited and for how long.

Earthquakes really pose little direct danger to a person. People can't be shaken to death by an earthquake. Some movies show scenes with the ground suddenly opening up and people falling into fiery pits, but this just doesn't happen in real life.

The first main earthquake hazard (danger) is the effect of ground shaking. Buildings can be damaged by the shaking itself or by the ground beneath them settling to a different level than it was before the earthquake.

Q: Dr. Richter, the general public most often associates your name with earthquake magnitude. What factors were involved in the initial development of the magnitude scale?

A: The magnitude scale developed unexpectedly out of a wish to accompany a listing of earthquakes instrumentally located in southern California with some indication as to which were large and small, based on something more objective than personal judgement, preferably on the instrumental recordings themselves. It soon appeared that the new scale would be a useful means to clear out errors and confusion from earthquake statistics.

Q: Much confusion exists in the public mind regarding the different magnitude scales, the difference between magnitude and intensity, and the erroneous impression that the "Richter magnitude is based on a scale of 10." Would you clarify some of these points?
A: The original magnitude scale, which I published in 1935, was set up for southern California only, depending on the particular types of seismographs in use there. Extension to earthquakes the world over, and to recordings by other instruments, was accomplished beginning in 1936 in collaboration with the late Dr. Beno Gutenberg. This extension was based on reported amplitudes of surface waves. Dr. Gutenberg later, without any significant contribution by me, developed a version of the scale using the measured amplitudes and periods of recorded body waves (P, S, and PP); this was applied systematically in our joint work on seismicity of the earth. Later, Gutenberg was in favor of using the body wave scale in preference to the surface wave scale. I had doubts at the time, and now feel that the body wave scale is still not satisfactory for general use, since it will give results comparable with Gutenberg's only if his procedure is closely followed. Magnitudes should not be based on body waves alone when surface wave data are available; nor should they be based on P amplitudes alone. Still worse is the practice of assigning magnitudes on the first few waves of the P group. Gutenberg invariably used the largest P waves, not the usually smaller beginning, so that application of his tables and charts to the initial waves is erroneous. In many instances it has been shown that the initial waves are those of a small foreshock, to which alone the magnitude supposedly determined for the following shock will then apply.

There is common misapprehension that the (Richter) magnitude scale is itself some kind of instrument or apparatus. Visitors will ask to "see the scale" . . .

The relation between magnitude and intensity is one that is familiar in the physics of radiation; it applies in seismology because seismographs record the waves of elastic disturbance radiated from the earthquake source. Magnitude may be compared to the power output in kilowatts of a broadcasting station; local intensity, on the Mercalli or similar scale, is then comparable to the signal strength noted on a receiver at a given locality, Intensity, like signal strength, will generally fall off with distance from the source; it will also depend on local conditions at the point of observation, and to some extent on the conditions along the path from source to that point.

I think that harping on prediction is something between a will-o'-the-wisp and a red herring.

Magnitude is a sense involves steps of 10, since every increase of one magnitude represents a 10-fold multiplication of the ground motion; but there is no "scale of 10" in the sense of an upper limit. (The intensity scales do have such a limit - formerly 10, later 12.) Magnitude numbers simply represent measurement - logarithmically to be sure, but with no imposed ceiling. The highest magnitudes thus far assigned to actual earthquakes do not quite reach 9, but that is a limitation in the earth, not in the scale.

There is common misapprehension that the magnitude scale is itself some kind of instrument or apparatus. Visitors will ask to "see the scale," and are disconcerted by being referred to tables and charts used for applying the scale to readings taken from the seismograms.

Q: What are the most interesting aspects of California earthquakes?
A: The most interesting  aspect of California earthquakes is the unnecessary death and destruction they cause.

Q: There are numerous high-rise structures in the San Francisco - Los Angeles areas. How do you think they would fare in a magnitude 8 earthquake?
A: Quite variously. Some of those erected in the 1940's in the range between 13 and 20 stories are considered unsafe by many engineers.

Q: How do you define earthquake prediction?
A: I don't define it. I think that harping on prediction is something between a will-o'-the-wisp and a red herring. Attention is thereby diverted away from positive measures to eliminate earthquake risk.

Q: What are your thoughts on the possibility of predicting earthquakes in the next two decades.
A: None.

Q: How cant he study of United States earthquakes be improved?
A: By continuous earnest efforts to find out what is going on, without running after prediction.

I don’t know how it comes up or how we talk about it in a way that we both understand, but for some reason, I get it in my head that I want her to know something about me. I need to communicate this thing that explains me, that explains us, that explains our presence, how we ended up here out of all the places in the world that we could be tonight. I say what I think might be correct: Mi sposo, morto. She gasps, reaches a hand to touch mine, and I work out a way to tell her more about it.
I point to my heart.

Michael Dubruiel, a popular Catholic author and speaker, died of a heart attack on February 2, 2009—only months after he and his wife, Amy Welborn, had relocated to Birmingham Alabama. In her new memoir, Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope, Welborn chronicles her somewhat spontaneous trip to Sicily with their young sons and teenage daughter in the aftermath of her husband’s sudden passing. A poignant meditation on grief and faith, the book is also filled with vivid descriptions of the culture and beauty of Sicily.

Welborn has long enjoyed a substantial following through her previous publications—nineteen books in all—and her online writing. Wish You Were Here is a uniquely personal and deeply moving portrait of her own family life, one with appeal to a wide variety of readers. We were fortunate to talk with Amy more about how the book came to be and how her family looks back on that time in their lives.

Dorian Speed: In the book, you interweave a chronological narrative of your trip to Sicily with memories of your husband, as well as describing the months after his death. Did you think of these events while you were at the specific locations, or did you collect them and then decide how they might correspond with experiences during your visit?

Amy Welborn: I journaled extensively during both periods. I have been a diarist and a journal-keeper my entire life, albeit not with absolute fidelity. In times of crisis, though . . . yes, I journal. I think I filled four or five notebooks in the months after Mike died. Then, of course, I journaled throughout the trip, every night for at least an hour and half. There was, of course, nothing else to do! And then when I returned and started working on the book, I made a chart. I’ll be honest. I made a chart. I went through all the journal entries from both periods, marked entries and even sentences that I thought were suitable, then made a list of each, on either side of this chart. Then I contemplated that chart for a while, and started to see connections. There were some connections that were inherent in the experiences: the last full chapter, of course, and the recurrence of “yes” – that was all tied together in that moment for me. And I’m sure, at some level, as we traveled through Sicily, I was associating our experiences with things that had happened before. But much of it came in post-trip reflection.

DS: This theme of “life among the ruins” runs throughout the book—at times during your travels, you are seeking out specific historical sites, but sometimes you happen upon them after setting out with a different plan for your day. I’m wondering if you found any analogies to your time of mourning your husband—if there were specific memories and incidents you deliberately revisited in hopes of gaining new insight into them, or if it was more a matter of working through these memories as they happened upon you.

AW: Oh, it’s very random. For the most part. I think the journey through Sicily, in which experience and reflection is occasioned by both the planned and the accidental, is very much evocative of the grief process (such as it is) as well. There are big rituals and moments that you know are coming: a visit to a grave, dates of birthdays, anniversaries and the date of death. There are the small rituals in specific moments that you might create – touching a shirt that still hangs in the closet, glimpsing at a photo on a dresser before you go to sleep. But of deeper impact are those unexpected moments where you turn a corner and…oh…I forgot. We were in this neighborhood looking at a house the week before he died. Or: well, here I am at my son’s basketball game, and all of a sudden I am hit by grief and regret: why isn’t he here to see this?

DS: Some of your previous books have been explicitly catechetical in nature, while this work is more personal and narrative. Still, you talk about aspects of your faith that might be unfamiliar to those from other religious traditions. How did you look at that in terms of the larger work—the inclusion of specific aspects of Catholic belief?

AW: There was a bit of tension and some questions about that, to be sure. In my initial drafts I mentioned all of those things: relics, the Eucharist, praying for the dead, purgatory—without much, if any explanation. It was felt that more explanation was needed, and I resisted—we came to a middle ground, I think. I wanted the book to have a wide appeal, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to become either didactic, with too much explanation, or bland, by taking out the particular Catholic matter—the last would have been impossible, anyway.

DS: Something I personally enjoyed about the book is that it’s not presented as a neat, orderly journey through the stages of grieving—it reads as a much more honest account of how you and your children dealt with such a tremendous loss. When you look back upon those first few months, does it seem like there was a “process” you went through emotionally?

AW: Well, it’s not neat, is it? Nothing about it is neat or orderly, and that’s one of the reasons I like one particular word in the subtitle: “through.” It’s not to hope from loss. It’s through them —and you thread back and forth through them all the time. In those first months, I don’t know if I could call what happened a “process.” It’s the result of life moving on and some discipline in your thoughts, emotions, and spiritual life. Time passes, and that does its work. But it doesn’t do all the work, and being able to get up every day and try to work towards peace isn’t automatic. I could only do it—process it—by placing every moment in a spiritual context. In the context of Passion and Resurrection, and the suffering, loss and limitations that are part of the human condition on earth and were taken up in Christ.

DS: Your humor shows up in subtle ways throughout the book, like the man with the cart and “miserable-looking donkey” who “plays accordion and sings songs you think you should hear in Italy. Or the Olive Garden, at least.” Early in your travels, you ask “What does it mean if I edge up on joy while doing something in a place I wouldn’t be if he were still alive?” And we also get a picture of your husband’s personality—telling stories, sharing your amusement at particular situations. Do you see his sense of humor in your children?

AW: I do. You raise an interesting point there, indirectly. Both boys have his sense of humor, Michael more so—he is a gifted mimic, like his father was, and he’s generally just more off-the-wall. He’s a character, and Mike was a character. Joseph has his sense of humor, but what he also has—that his little brother doesn’t seem to have—is his father’s penchant for planning and gift for process. Whenever we travel, it comes out very strongly: Joseph is fascinated by things like subway and train schedules and maps. Mike was a great travel planner, and I think as Joseph gets older, I’ll be handing over more of that kind of responsibility to him. But I have to be careful, you know, as we all do with our children, to take them as they are, for who they are, and not be looking at them, trying to see reflections of a deceased parent (or grandparent) . . . or even ourselves.

DS: As someone who knew very little about Sicily before reading your book, I spent a good bit of time searching online for images to go with the beautiful places you visited. And of course you have posted some terrific photographs on your own website, too. What was it that drew you to Sicily? Are you ready to go back? Do you keep in touch with any of your hosts from your travels?

AW: Sicily was far away and someplace I’d never been and never thought of going. So in a way, it was sort of like “going to” death in this sense. Although I did think about it, fearfully, it was not someplace I took seriously about traveling to—death, that is. It was also someplace that Mike would never, ever have traveled to. I could not imagine it being part of a family journey in the hypothetical land of “If Mike were still alive.” It seemed very far away from life with him, as well, and I suppose I hoped that if I went to Sicily, I wouldn’t be as burdened with the loss.
Didn’t work, of course, since, as I write in the book, even seeing a crucifix made of lava rock festooned with glitter in a souvenir shop on Mount Etna can make you miss your husband just as much as driving by the YMCA where he died back home. I would love to go back to Sicily, but it is not in the cards right now. I’ve kept in touch a bit with the owner of the agriturismo—we’re Facebook friends, of course.

DS: The image of the “little volcanoes” recurs throughout the book—there’s this great scene where Joseph is posing for a photograph holding up this gigantic volcanic rock. Why did that make such a strong impression upon you?

AW: This made an impression on me because he, being 7 when his father died, was most profoundly affected by his death. He hurt the most, the deepest, and misses him the most. I have fearfully envisioned him travelling through his life with this heavy, heavy burden, and seeing him playfully lift those large lava rocks on Mount Etna gave me hope that with God’s grace, he will find peace, and it won’t weigh him down as I fear.

DS: When your children talk about the trip, what do they especially remember?

AW: They remember Mount Etna and the agriturismo most of all, and they also remember the temples in Agrigento. But the volcano and those dogs on the farm have really endured in their memories!

DS: Are you all suffering from gelato withdrawal now, or have you found acceptable sources in Birmingham?

AW: There is no gelato like real Italian gelato, and while Birmingham has its Vulcan—whose forge Mount Etna was supposed to be—we can’t get him to deliver us good gelato yet.

this is a picture of a earthquake that destroyed homes and schools
This is the 7th earthquake in the world and it didn't do a lot of damage

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