And now for something completely different about which to worry

Yellowstone, one of the most beautiful, impressive, magnificent places on earth, is also one of the most dangerous.  Although it looks superficially like a valley, it is, in fact, a 65 mile wide extremely active volcanic caldera.  If it blows, we all blow, every man-jack of us.  So it’s worth noting, as Drudge does, when earthquakes start shaking the region.  I’m sure it’s nothing, but there is something almost comforting (in a weird way) about knowing that there’s something out there over which we don’t have even the semblance of control.  It’s freeing, if you know what I mean….

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  • Charles Martel

    Book, I’m betting on the prevailing winds taking the spew from a big Yellowstone blowout and wending it eastward toward Washington, Boston and Manhattan.

    Just before the Brights there are extinguished by the noxious cloud, we could broadcast to them that it’s going to lower global temps by a few degrees. “Take heart!” we could say. “Gaia is sending you your long-awaited Grand Kyoto!”

  • eeyore

    PBS has done a show on the volcano (“Supervolcano”) which did erupt thousands of years ago. The ash layer covered much of the Midwest and southern Canada as far east as Ohio. If this were to erupt again it would destroy much of the crop-producing regions of the country as well as the world.

  • suek

    eeyore…

    The ash wouldn’t matter – the global cooling effect of a volcano of that magnitude would be so drastic that even a _lot_ of ash would be just fertilizer for the future…! Whenever it warmed up again…!

  • Ellen

    And we think we can control nature! Sorry Algore, but this is one thing that carbon credits can’t fix.

  • Kate

    I seem to remember ash from Mt St. Helens hitting the East when it blew in in the early 80s.

    The pollution cloud from China hitting the west isn’t too pretty, either…

    http://www.nasa.gov/mpeg/102701main_prelude_320x240.mpeg

  • Tiresias

    What fascinates me about all this stuff is, I suppose, sort of along the lines of: you’re happier not knowing. We finally get to the level of actually being able to find something out about the physical world and how it works, and look what we find out:

    There’s such a thing as a supervolcano – there are a number of them around the world, Yellowstone’s not the only one – and: as far as we can tell they’re all overdue for eruption.

    The Cascadia fault from northern California up to the north end of Vancouver Island, which lets go about every 300 years and produces Pacific-wide devastating tsunamis along with a specific type of sine-wave earthquake that lasts five minutes (instead of a 15 second jolt) and will reduce Seattle, Portland, et al to piles of bricks – is overdue.

    Mt. Hood in Oregon, which Lewis & Clark saw erupting when they passed on their way to the Pacific, somewhat before Portland was there – is overdue.

    Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker, both in Washington, are, well… overdue; according to what we can tell of their periodicy. (Rainier, it should be noted, also creates lahars, which are perfectly capable of burying Seattle under a twenty foot wall of boiling mud moving at 200 miles an hour – they just discovered evidence of the last one on the floor of the Puget Sound. The next one of those is overdue, too.)

    Vesuvius, which now has a couple of million people living and waiting to be killed where there were only a couple of small Roman towns last time, is snorting and growling and, oddly enough: overdue.

    Mt. Etna – overdue
    Mt. Augustine (in Alaska) – overdue
    Mt. Iliamna (also Alaska) – overdue
    Krakatoa Jr. (Krakatoa blew itself apart) rebuilds steadily
    San Andreas fault – overdue
    14 separate peaks along the Cordillera de los Andes and the Cordillera Occidental – overdue

    The more we know, the more a pattern begins to emerge and the worse it gets! Every damn major volcano and fault on the planet is overdue!

  • Ymarsakar

    Every damn major volcano and fault on the planet is overdue!

    They are waiting for the Messiah and the 13th Imam to give the word. Don’t worry man.

  • suek

    The article itself is so so, but the comments…!! Definitely worth a read!

    http://www.qando.net/comments.aspx?Entry=9909

  • suek

    Did you delete a post? I’m getting a 404 on “What they’re reading” and it’s disappeared from your “recent posts” list. Have they hacked in???

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    No, suek, no hacking. I had to delete it myself. Long story, which I might one day tell all of you.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Let’s not forget the New Madrid fault near southern Illinois and Missouri – also overdue.

  • suek

    >>Long story, which I might one day tell all of you.>>

    I know…your neighbors found out your true identity, discovered your blog online, and are holding you prisoner until you read all of the books which all the other Marinites have read…. They’re positive that if you just read what they read, that you will be enlightened and will become a true follower of the progressive way….!!!

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    You’re getting warm, suek.

  • suek

    Oooo! _That’s_ scarey!

  • Ymarsakar

    Copyright or legal issues, Book?

  • Charles Martel

    Another candidate, much closer to home for us Californians, is the magma plume under the Owens Valley just east of Yosemite near Lake Mono. Usually magma is 15, 20 or 30 miles under the crust — not much when you’re talking about an 8,000-mile-diameter planet, but a nice margin of safety for earthlings who don’t want to be bothered by sudden eruptions of 2,800-degree molten rock.

    Under the Owens Valley, however, it’s only about three or four miles down to the magma. Long story short, just like Yellowstone, if this plume erupts there’s going to be hell to pay across the whole U.S.

    One way geologists track the danger is to observe the number of mini-earthquakes that occur in the area. Typically geologically active places like the Sierra Nevada, which is the product of a massive 400-mile faultline, can have dozens of earthquakes daily. But they’re little fellers by California standards, maybe 1.5, 2.0 or 3.0 on the Richter.

    So what worries the scientists is when you get earthquake “swarms,” where hundreds or even thousands of tiny quakes occur in a day. It means Mr. Plume is getting restless.

  • Mike Devx

    Book writes a post one day that says:
    “I was walking my dog down the street as usual, and a few houses down, a lady with a large rhododendron plant near her porch accused my dog of violating the poor plant by urinating on it! She said she could tell that the plant had become unhappy, and it told her why…”

    The next day, that lady runs into another shopper friend at the local Whole Foods. “Say, Bernice, this aragula looks quite tasty and fresh today.”

    “It certainly does,” Bernice replies, “no thanks to George W. Bush!”

    “So true, so true,” her friend empathizes. “Say, I was reading that Marin County Witch’es blog, you know… Bookie Roomie, something like that?”

    Bernice shudders. “I know! I check it out too. I don’t know why, I can’t stop myself. That WOMAN!”

    Her friend nods. “She was writing yesterday about a lady with a rhododendron plant. Aren’t you the only person around with a rhododendron plant next to your front door?”

    “Why yes, I am! Why… and there’s this lawyer lady who lives a few doors down from me. Are you saying…”

    “Did her dog urinate on your plant?”

    “Yes!” Bernice gasps. “Well, she says no, but I know BETTER! Are you saying… that’s the Bookie Roomie Witch? Oh my…” and she lets loose with a string of expletives formerly reserved solely for George Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Bolton.

    They huddle, in the aisle, aragula forgotten, eyes gleaming with nefarious, no strike that, morally high minded and plans as perfectly acceptable as Hamas’, and begin hatching their schemes, I mean, justified actions…

  • Charles Martel

    Book:

    Can you set up a thread where we can discuss our holiday run-ins with our liberal friends?

    I invited an old friend for Xmas dinner and astounded him by telling him why I didn’t vote for Obama. He had suspected for years that I had gone over to the dark side, but I had managed to skillfully deflect his speculations all that time.

    The conversation got quite testy and I had to defuse it. Enroute to that, I ran into rationalizations and illogic so egregious that I am still shaking my head at them.

    Anyway, it might be therapeutic to swap similar stories among all here. (Yes, I know therapeutic is a leftist worship word.)

  • Mike Devx

    The volcano events are overdue, in some cases, by a few hundred thousand years. Give or take (plus or minus) a few ten thousand years. The time scale is so broad, I wouldn’t worry about it much.

    The Yellowstone caldera is moving in a direction that puts it under the Rockies in a about a hundred thousand years, I think. By then any building pressure will be contained from above… at least until it moves out from under the Rockies! Boy oh boy, eight hundred thousand years from now, it’ll really blow! We need to do something about it NOW! Al Gore, please help!

    Somewhere there’s an asteroid or a comet that has Earth’s name written on it, too. In a few million years, it’s a gonna hit.

    (Now the earthquake events that are overdue… those really are something to be concerned about. The New Madrid one is near me in the Midwest, and I know across the Midwest, they’re not building to earthquake standards… And the nature of the soil and bedrock over here is such that the jolting, I believe, would be quite severe.)

  • Charles Martel

    In honor of the impending doom, I have been studiously doing stretching exercises, with an emphasis on my ability to bend deeply from the waist.

    As a result, I am happy to report that come the supervocano/earthquake/ice sheet/asteroid, I can from a standing stance deliver my pursed lips to my ass in just under 3 seconds.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Actually, that’s a great idea, Charles! It wouldn’t be therapeutic as much as hysterically funny to anthropologically recount all the buffoonery encountered over the Holidays from motley crews of bonobo Lefty friends and relatives. We can love them and laugh at the same time, can’t we?

    As far as the rest is concerned, don’t worry, be happy.

  • cottus

    What ‘Charles Martel’ describes about the Yosemite plume correlates with what little I know. When I lived in Mammoth Lakes, the swarms of small earthquakes caused no little concern. But they eased off and went back to their previous levels of activity.

    Reports of small earthquake activity in Yellowstone probably correlates more with certain cycles of grant proposal writing than it does with anything else. Kinda like global warming, but on a much smaller geographic scale.

    Dire Catastrophe can be most effective in loosening the gummint pocketbook and boosting one’s professional stature, as it were.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Y: Neither. Just an intersection of real me and cyber me with which I was not prepared to deal at the end of ’08.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    And, BTW, Mike at #17, got a little too close to home.

  • suek

    But it was good, wasn’t it! Mike has a real flair.

    I don’t know whether to wish for you to come out or encourage you to say undercover. It really offends me that in the USA you can’t write freely. At the same time, I suspect it sharpens your focus a bit.

    And of course, reality is what it is. Would that the Jews of Germany had been able to avoid recognition as readily. (And yes, I do think there’s a connection.)

  • Danny Lemieux

    BTW, Book, I think that it is OK to vary details (a rosebush instead of a Rhodendron) as a red-herring to throw them off the scent, while still preserving the point of the narrative.

  • Ymarsakar

    Book needs Operational Security ; )

  • Ymarsakar

    In honor of the impending doom, I have been studiously doing stretching exercises, with an emphasis on my ability to bend deeply from the waist.

    As a result, I am happy to report that come the supervocano/earthquake/ice sheet/asteroid, I can from a standing stance deliver my pursed lips to my ass in just under 3 seconds.

    I still think you would be better served by learning the skills required to deal with the obligatory looters.

  • Tiresias

    Don’t much worry about the impending doom – nobody gets out of here alive anyway – but it just strikes me.

    The more we advance our knowledge, the more we advance our abilities, the more we learn – the worse it gets.

    The fact of the matter is since Toba (super volcano) blew up and damn near extinguished us – I read somewhere that some scientists opine that the human race got down to as few as forty breeding females; we’re all much more closely related genetically than we ought to be for six billion of anything – we’ve been very lucky.

    The human race has grown up in a singularly calm period of geological and climatic stability, so singular that it really qualifies as an anomaly in Earth history. The planet has been largely quiet since the last Ice Age, and we have been blessed, and for the most part left alone by nature.

    This has created the opinion – since all the opinion-makers have appeared in this interregnum – that this is the way it is. It ain’t. The continents continue to drift, and one day Pangea will reform. You really will be able to see what used to be Russia from your porch. (As Tina Fey, not Sarah Palin, said.)

    With all this stuff just waiting, and even late; it begins to look a little creepy.

  • Charles Martel

    I am going to draw the line at being able to see Berkeley from my porch.

  • Ymarsakar

    If you could command detonate a thermonuke under Berkley from your porch, would you still draw the line at being able to see it?

  • Charles Martel

    Ymarsakar, better than a nuke would be the instantaneous elimination of the following in Berkeley:

    — Mexican labor

    — Tenure

    — The city government

    — Code Pink

    — North Shattuck Ave. (home of the “Gourmet Ghetto”)

    — Ubiquitous traffic-control bumps and barriers

    — Home delivery of the Volkischer Beobachter (New York Times)

    This would produce immense and immediate consternation as all of the anchors of white Bobo Berkeley life disappear: The talking points and thinking instructions from the New York Times; the brown people who provide both cheap labor and a cheap opportunity for feeling a.) secretly superior and b.) overtly empathetic; the ability to live close to the earth while paying $55 per person for a plate of argula and hand-fed gerbil.

    Wouldn’t you just love to pull up a chair and sip a fine beer while watching the panic in the streets?

  • Tiresias

    I was the recipient of having it pointed out – not very subtly – that Toba and the resulting human genome bottleneck might not be widely known topics. Fine.

    I think this is a pretty damn literate group and anyone who doesn’t know can certainly figure out how to find out easily enough, but FINE!

    So here’s an interesting and informative link.

    http://www.andaman.org/BOOK/originals/Weber-Toba/ch5_bottleneck/textr5.htm

  • Charles Martel

    Tiresias, PBS or Discovery had a documentary on Toba maybe two years ago. It gave me a chill to think how close we came to extinction.

  • Mike Devx

    Tiresias
    >> With all this stuff just waiting, and even late; it begins to look a little creepy. >>

    I too got a sense of the “creepiness” factor… that sense that we might in fact be approaching the “End Of Days”. I don’t take apocalyst fears seriously, though, because they’ve always been wrong. I don’t worry about it also, because I believe that to assume to know the mind of God when it comes to the settling of prophecy – or to predict God’s plan in advance – is always to me a major error of theology.

  • Mike Devx

    Never has the word “apocalyptic” been screwed up so badly as in my above post. :-(
    Why didn’t I look up and see the spellchecker warning?

  • suek

    >>I don’t worry about it also, because I believe that to assume to know the mind of God when it comes to the settling of prophecy – or to predict God’s plan in advance – is always to me a major error of theology.>>

    To say nothing about the “You know not the day nor the hour”

    or the simple fact that there’s simply nothing you can do about it even if you _did_ know for an absolute fact exactly when and even how the end would come….

    Plus is it the end of the world? or just the end of humankind as we know it? Who would blame the Divine Being if He decided to just wipe us all from the fact of the earth and start over! Of course, that would imply a mistake…and God can’t make mistakes…Oy. My head aches!! Too early in the year!