Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yellowstone Lake Earthquake Swarm

A more recent update from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, with some useful links:
Monday, December 29, 2008 19:07 MST (Tuesday, December 30, 2008 02:07 UTC)

44.43°N 110.67°W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)
Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Earthquake swarm beneath Yellowstone Lake continues.


Released: December 29, 2008 05:00 PM MST

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a notable swarm of earthquakes has been underway since December 26 beneath Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, three to six miles south-southeast of Fishing Bridge, Wyoming. This energetic sequence of events was most intense on December 27, when the largest number of events of magnitude 3 and larger occurred.

The largest of the earthquakes was a magnitude 3.9 (revised from magnitude 3.8) at 10:15 pm MST on Dec. 27. The sequence has included nine events of magnitude 3 to 3.9 and approximately 24 of magnitude 2 to 3 at the time of this release. A total of more than 250 events large enough to be located have occurred in this swarm. Reliable depths of the larger events are up to a few miles. Visitors and National Park Service (NPS) employees in the Yellowstone Lake area reported feeling the largest of these earthquakes.

Earthquakes are a common occurrence in the Yellowstone National Park area, an active volcanic-tectonic area averaging 1,000 to 2,000 earthquakes a year. Yellowstone's 10,000 geysers and hot springs are the result of this geologic activity. A summary of Yellowstone's volcanic history is available on the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory web site (listed below). This December 2008 earthquake sequence is the most intense in this area for some years and is centered on the east side of the Yellowstone caldera. Scientists cannot identify any causative fault or other feature without further analysis. [In other words, they can't yet tell if this is due to magma movement, geothermal activity of some kind, or if the more typical forces behind earthquakes are behind this. - Tyler] Seismologists continue to monitor and analyze the data and will issue new information if the situation warrants it.

The University of Utah operates a seismic network in Yellowstone National Park in conjunction with the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). These three institutions are partners in the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Data are transmitted to the University in real-time by radio and satellite links from a network of 28 seismographs in the Yellowstone area and are available on the web. Seismologists continue to analyze data from this swarm of earthquakes and provide updates to the NPS and USGS and to the public via the following web pages.

Information on U.S. earthquake activity including Yellowstone can be viewed at the U.S. Geological Survey web site:

Information on earthquakes can also be viewed at the University of Utah Seismograph Stations web site:

Seismographic recordings from Yellowstone seismograph stations can be viewed online at:

Persons who felt any of the earthquakes are encouraged to fill out a survey form on the USGS 'Did You Feel It?' web site:

Geologic information, maps, and monitoring information for Yellowstone can be found on the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory web site at:

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) is a partnership of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Yellowstone National Park, and University of Utah to strengthen the long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake unrest in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

"The Spirit" Gets Slammed

As you can gather from this review, "The Spirit" isn't holding up to inspection very well:
It's one of those painfully, jaw-droppingly, call-your-lawyer bad movie experiences -- the sort of flick where pretty much every scene is a complete misfire, and not in that so-bad-it's-funny way. The timing's all off. The actors look confused and embarrassed. And if you care at all about the source material, the movie feels like punishment, or the final act of revenge in some long-simmering Miller/Eisner feud you never knew existed.

So, this movie is off the "must see" list. So are they going to rerelease "The Dark Knight" to theaters, or not? I'll be waiting. (I don't know about you, but the Christmas movie releases haven't inspired me. The only one I am remotely interested in is "Gran Turino.")

As for The Spirit, well, rats. I bought a couple of the "Best of The Spirit" collections that DC brought out this past year, and after reading them I found I did care for the source material. For example, in the movie posters, it announces "Samuel L. Jackson is... THE OCTOPUS." The Octopus being the #1 arch-criminal mastermind in the Spirit's sphere. But in the comic, the Octopus is always hidden - all you ever see are his gloved hands. So the movie butchered one of the signature villains of the comic, before you ever see the movie. And apparently it goes downhill from there.

What could have been...

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Not a Seismologist... (UPDATED)

"...but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

Okay, so it was two weeks ago, and it was a Best Western, and I actually found out about it from the Drudge Report, but something interesting is happening in Yellowstone National Park.


From the USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory:
The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a swarm of small earthquakes of magnitude 3.5 and smaller is occurring beneath Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, five to nine miles south-southeast of Fishing Bridge, Wyoming. The swarm began yesterday afternoon, Dec. 26, and has continued and intensified today. The two largest earthquakes in this swarm have been shocks of magnitude 3.5 and 3.4 which occurred at 1:17 and 1:26 pm MST, respectively, today. Many smaller earthquakes have also occurred, including three events this morning of magnitude 2.5 to 2.8 and a magnitude 3.2 event at 3:30 pm MST. Some of the earthquakes in the swarm have been reported felt by people in the Yellowstone Lake area. Swarms of this nature are relatively common in this part of Yellowstone Park.

These swarms are suggestive of magma movement, but given the nature of Yellowstone Park, that's not saying much. There's lots of magma movement.

What is of interest is if this remains a trend. Sustained swarms, coupled with changing depths of the earthquakes, could suggest a volcano is developing. Right now, there is enough data to say what, if anything, is happening. But it is enough to command some attention.

Further resources:

USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory
University of Utah Seismograph Stations
UUSS Recent Earthquakes in Yellowstone

UPDATE, 4:00 PM:

Scientists watch unusual Yellowstone quake swarm

Scientists are closely monitoring more than 250 small earthquakes that have occurred in Yellowstone National Park since Friday.

Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone. But Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah, says it's very unusual to have so many over several days.

The largest tremor was Saturday and measured magnitude 3.8.

Smith says it's hard to say what might be causing the tremors but notes that Yellowstone is very geologically active. An active volcano there last erupted 70,000 years ago.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Don't Like Flying

It's fine, usually.

But then there are days like today; a 3-hour delay because you plane was snowed in - in Las Vegas.

You guys in Vegas are pansies.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Joys of Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are one of those things that I enjoy the result, but hate the process. For the last eight years, my folks have put up red. white, & green Christmas lights. And when I say "my folks," I mean Dad; and I usually get drafted to help.

They look great, but the trees seem to get taller every year, the bulbs develop shorter life spans, the extension cords shrink, and the FAA gets more picky about "interference with aerial navigation."

We still do it, though. It's tradition. This year more than ever - as the all the neighbors seem to have wimped out, and we are the only ones with lights. I've been doing it ever since it was determined that I had no higher chance of electrocuting myself than Dad has, so at least one of us will be able to call for help. It's also how I learned the meaning and usage of all the swear words, so it had educational value as well.

Anyway, when I heard Glenn Beck talking about Christmas lights the other day, I had to share:
The new Christmas light nets? Have you seen that? The Christmas lights net? It's their -- I don't know what they are actually called. It's a new style of outdoor lighting. When I was a kid, you would go outside with your dad and you would manly string up all those big chunky colorful light bulbs that would burn out every three nights and your dad would either break his neck or when you got old enough, he would say, "You go up and change the light bulb; I'll hold the ladder." And I think my dad was secretly hoping, "Maybe this time he will fall off the ladder." And those light bulbs, you know, are probably worth about half the reason that we have an energy crisis. But they were worth it. Then we went to the fancy white lights and then the icicles and everybody had that and then the twinkling lights and the fake snow and the stickers on the windows? I'm sorry, but it's getting a little over the top. Now we have the Christmas light nets where you don't have to wrap the strand around the bush in front of your house. You just go take a net of lights and you -- like a blanket and you just like... and pop it on the -- that's not right. You don't even have to put gloves on, let alone experience the father-and-son tradition of, you know, of Dad screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs while the neighbors consider whether or not to call the police because they have got some maniac out there on the top of a ladder screaming at his son. That's what Christmas is supposed to be. You're supposed to get the big ball of lights, the string of lights that are all tangled up and then your dad starts swearing and you say, "Dad, the reason why is because when you took them off last year, you were swearing so much" and of course they tangle themselves and you don't say anything, because Dad will kill you if you do. That's Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Synchronized Spinning

Seen at The Corner:

Synchronized Spinning [Mark Steyn]

Mary Katharine Ham makes a good point here. The media are so on-message with the president-elect they no longer have to wait for his catchphrases actually to pass his lips, they just crank them out anyway. From the Associated Press:

Though Barack Obama isn't accused of anything, the charges against his home-state governor - concerning Obama's own Senate seat no less - are an unwelcome distraction. And the ultimate fallout is unclear.

If American newspapering had any wit left in it, some wag of an editor would launch a sidebar called "Unwelcome Distractions." Instead, give 'em another month or three and Obama may be the first president able to hold singalong press conferences.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Once more, with feeling

Pulling from Mark Steyn's column, below:

Many of us, including the incoming Obama administration, look at this as a law-enforcement matter. Bombay is a crime scene, so let’s surround the perimeter with yellow police tape, send in the forensics squad, and then wait for the DA to file charges. There was a photograph that appeared in many of the British papers, taken by a Reuters man and captioned by the news agency as follows: “A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station.” The photo of the “suspected gunman” showed a man holding a gun. We don’t know much about him — he might be Muslim or Episcopalian, he might be an impoverished uneducated victim of western colonialist economic oppression or a former vice-president of Lehman Bros embarking on an exciting midlife career change — but one thing we ought to be able to say for certain is that a man pointing a gun is not a “suspected gunman” but a gunman.
Emphasis mine.

Mark Steyn on the Mumbai Terror Attacks.

Just read it.

It’s Not the Cold War
Updating strategy to fight the ideology.

By Mark Steyn
November 29, 2008, 9:00 a.m.
National Review Online

When terrorists attack, media analysts go into Sherlock Holmes mode, metaphorically prowling the crime scene for footprints, as if the way to solve the mystery is to add up all the clues. The Bombay gunmen seized British and American tourists. Therefore, it must be an attack on Westerners!

Not so, said Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria. If they’d wanted to do that, they’d have hit the Hilton or the Marriott or some other target-rich chain hotel. The Taj and the Oberoi are both Indian owned, and popular watering holes with wealthy Indians.

Okay, how about this group that’s claimed credit for the attack? The Deccan Mujahideen. As a thousand TV anchors asked on Wednesday night, “What do we know about them?”

Er, well, nothing. Because they didn’t exist until they issued the press release. “Deccan” is the name of the vast plateau that covers most of the triangular peninsula that forms the lower half of the Indian sub-continent. It comes from the Prakrit word “dakkhin, which means “south.” Which means nothing at all. “Deccan Mujahideen” is like calling yourself the “Continental Shelf Liberation Front.”

Okay. So does that mean this operation was linked to al-Qaeda? Well, no. Not if by “linked to” you mean a wholly owned subsidiary coordinating its activities with the corporate head office.

It’s not an either/or scenario, it’s all of the above. Yes, the terrorists targeted locally owned hotels. But they singled out Britons and Americans as hostages. Yes, they attacked prestige city landmarks like the Victoria Terminus, one of the most splendid and historic railway stations in the world. But they also attacked an obscure Jewish community center. The Islamic imperialist project is a totalitarian ideology: It is at war with Hindus, Jews, Americans, Britons, everything that is other.

In the ten months before this week’s atrocity, Muslim terrorists killed over 200 people in India and no-one paid much attention. Just business as usual, alas. In Bombay, the perpetrators were cannier. They launched a multiple indiscriminate assault on soft targets, and then in the confusion began singling out A-list prey: Not just wealthy Western tourists, but local orthodox Jews, and municipal law enforcement. They drew prominent officials to selected sites, and then gunned down the head of the antiterrorism squad and two of his most senior lieutenants. They attacked a hospital, the place you’re supposed to take the victims to, thereby destabilizing the city’s emergency-response system.

And, aside from dozens of corpses, they were rewarded with instant, tangible, economic damage to India: the Bombay Stock Exchange was still closed on Friday, and the England cricket team canceled their tour (a shameful act).

What’s relevant about the Mumbai model is that it would work in just about any second-tier city in any democratic state: Seize multiple soft targets and overwhelm the municipal infrastructure to the point where any emergency plan will simply be swamped by the sheer scale of events. Try it in, say, Mayor Nagin’s New Orleans. All you need is the manpower. Given the numbers of gunmen, clearly there was a significant local component. On the other hand, whether or not Pakistan’s deeply sinister ISI had their fingerprints all over it, it would seem unlikely that there was no external involvement. After all, if you look at every jihad front from the London Tube bombings to the Iraqi insurgency, you’ll find local lads and wily outsiders: That’s pretty much a given.

But we’re in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It’s the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK and shoot up a hotel lobby. Or, if active terrorists are a bit thin on the ground, whether you can count at least on some degree of broader support on the ground. You’re sitting in some distant foreign capital but you’re minded to pull off a Bombay-style operation in, say, Amsterdam or Manchester or Toronto. Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological-front organizations. You’ve already made landfall.

It’s missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the “Deccan Mujahideen” or the ISI or al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That’s a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It’s not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That’s what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the Central Asian stans to Yorkshire, and coopted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.

Many of us, including the incoming Obama administration, look at this as a law-enforcement matter. Bombay is a crime scene, so let’s surround the perimeter with yellow police tape, send in the forensics squad, and then wait for the DA to file charges. There was a photograph that appeared in many of the British papers, taken by a Reuters man and captioned by the news agency as follows: “A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station.” The photo of the “suspected gunman” showed a man holding a gun. We don’t know much about him — he might be Muslim or Episcopalian, he might be an impoverished uneducated victim of western colonialist economic oppression or a former vice-president of Lehman Bros embarking on an exciting midlife career change — but one thing we ought to be able to say for certain is that a man pointing a gun is not a “suspected gunman” but a gunman. “This kind of silly political correctness infects reporters and news services world-wide,” wrote John Hinderaker of Powerline. “They think they’re being scrupulous — the man hasn’t been convicted of being a gunman yet! — when in fact they’re just being foolish. But the irrational conviction that nothing can be known unless it has been determined by a court and jury isn’t just silly, it’s dangerous.”

Just so. This isn’t law enforcement but an ideological assault — and we’re fighting the symptoms not the cause. Islamic imperialists want an Islamic society, not just in Palestine and Kashmir but in the Netherlands and Britain, too. Their chances of getting it will be determined by the ideology’s advance among the general Muslim population, and the general Muslim population’s demographic advance among everybody else.

So Bush is history, and we have a new president who promises to heal the planet, and yet the jihadists don’t seem to have got the Obama message that there are no enemies, just friends we haven’t yet held talks without preconditions with. This isn’t about repudiating the Bush years, or withdrawing from Iraq, or even liquidating Israel. It’s bigger than that. And if you don’t have a strategy for beating back the ideology, you’ll lose.

Whoops, my apologies. I mean “suspected ideology.”

© 2008 Mark Steyn