Earthquake activity in the New York City area

Although the eastern United States is not as seismically active as regions near plate boundaries, large and damaging earthquakes do occur there. Furthermore, when these rare eastern U.S. earthquakes occur, the areas affected by them are much larger than for western U.S. earthquakes of the same magnitude. Thus, earthquakes represent at least a moderate hazard to East Coast cities, including New York City and adjacent areas of very high population density.
Seismicity in the vicinity of New York City. Data are from the U.S. Geological Survey (Top, USGS) and the National Earthquake Information Center (Bottom, NEIC). In the top figure, closed red circles indicate 1924-2006 epicenters and open black circles indicate locations of the larger earthquakes that occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. Green lines indicate the trace of the Ramapo fault.
As can be seen in the maps of earthquake activity in this region(shown in the figure), seismicity is scattered throughout most of the New York City area, with some hint of a concentration of earthquakes in the area surrounding Manhattan Island. The largest known earthquake in this region occurred in 1884 and had a magnitude of approximately 5. For this earthquake, observations of fallen bricks and cracked plaster were reported from eastern Pennsylvania to central Connecticut, and the maximum intensity reported was at two sites in western Long Island (Jamaica, New York and Amityville, New York). Two other earthquakes of approximately magnitude 5 occurred in this region in 1737 and 1783. The figure on the right shows maps of the distribution of earthquakes of magnitude 3 and greater that occurred in this region from 1924 to 2010, along with locations of the larger earthquakes that occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884.


The NYC area is part of the geologically complex structure of the Northern Appalachian Mountains. This complex structure was formed during the past half billion years when the Earth’s crust underlying the Northern Appalachians was the site of two major geological episodes, each of which has left its imprint on the NYC area bedrock. Between about 450 million years ago and about 250 million years ago, the Northern Appalachian region was affected by a continental collision, in which the ancient African continent collided with the ancient North American continent to form the supercontinent Pangaea. Beginning about 200 million years ago, the present-day Atlantic ocean began to form as plate tectonic forces began to rift apart the continent of Pangaea. The last major episode of geological activity to affect the bedrock in the New York area occurred about 100 million years ago, during the Mesozoic era, when continental rifting that led to the opening of the present-day Atlantic ocean formed the Hartford and Newark Mesozoic rift basins.
Earthquake rates in the northeastern United States are about 50 to 200 times lower than in California, but the earthquakes that do occur in the northeastern U.S. are typically felt over a much broader region than earthquakes of the same magnitude in the western U.S.This means the area of damage from an earthquake in the northeastern U.S. could be larger than the area of damage caused by an earthquake of the same magnitude in the western U.S. The cooler rocks in the northeastern U.S. contribute to the seismic energy propagating as much as ten times further than in the warmer rocks of California. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt as far as 100 km (60 mi) from its epicenter, but it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake, although uncommon, can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from its epicenter, and can cause damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi) from its epicenter. Earthquakes stronger than about magnitude 5.0 generate ground motions that are strong enough to be damaging in the epicentral area.
At well-studied plate boundaries like the San Andreas fault system in California, scientists can often make observations that allow them to identify the specific fault on which an earthquake took place. In contrast, east of the Rocky Mountains this is rarely the case.  The NYC area is far from the boundaries of the North American plate, which are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Caribbean Sea, and along the west coast of North America. The seismicity of the northeastern U.S. is generally considered to be due to ancient zones of weakness that are being reactivated in the present-day stress field. In this model, pre-existing faults that were formed during ancient geological episodes persist in the intraplate crust, and the earthquakes occur when the present-day stress is released along these zones of weakness. The stress that causes the earthquakes is generally considered to be derived from present-day rifting at the Mid-Atlantic ridge.

Earthquakes and geologically mapped faults in the Northeastern U.S.

The northeastern U.S. has many known faults, but virtually all of the known faults have not been active for perhaps 90 million years or more. Also, the locations of the known faults are not well determined at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few (if any) earthquakes in the region can be unambiguously linked to known faults. Given the current geological and seismological data, it is difficult to determine if a known fault in this region is still active today and could produce a modern earthquake. As in most other areas east of the Rocky Mountains, the best guide to earthquake hazard in the northeastern U.S. is probably the locations of the past earthquakes themselves.

The Ramapo fault and other New York City area faults

The Ramapo Fault, which marks the western boundary of the Newark rift basin, has been argued to be a major seismically active feature of this region,but it is difficult to discern the extent to which the Ramapo fault (or any other specific mapped fault in the area) might be any more of a source of future earthquakes than any other parts of the region. The Ramapo Fault zone spans more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) in New YorkNew Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a system of faults between the northern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east. This fault is perhaps the best known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and some small earthquakes have been known to occur in its vicinity. Recently, public knowledge about the fault has increased – especially after the 1970s, when the fault’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York was noticed.
There is insufficient evidence to unequivocally demonstrate any strong correlation of earthquakes in the New York City area with specific faults or other geologic structures in this region. The damaging earthquake affecting New York City in 1884 was probably not associated with the Ramapo fault because the strongest shaking from that earthquake occurred on Long Island (quite far from the trace of the Ramapo fault). The relationship between faults and earthquakes in the New York City area is currently understood to be more complex than any simple association of a specific earthquake with a specific mapped fault.
A 2008 study argued that a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake might originate from the Ramapo fault zone, which would almost definitely spawn hundreds or even thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damage. Studying around 400 earthquakes over the past 300 years, the study also argued that there was an additional fault zone extending from the Ramapo Fault zone into southwestern Connecticut. As can be seen in the above figure of seismicity, earthquakes are scattered throughout this region, with no particular concentration of activity along the Ramapo fault, or along the hypothesized fault zone extending into southwestern Connecticut.
Just off the northern terminus of the Ramapo fault is the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, built between 1956 and 1960 by Consolidated Edison Company. The plant began operating in 1963, and it has been the subject of a controversy over concerns that an earthquake from the Ramapo fault will affect the power plant. Whether or not the Ramapo fault actually does pose a threat to this nuclear power plant remains an open question.

Syria Helps Create The Shia Crescent

Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Wikipedia.

Aleppo’s Fall Cements the Radical Shiite Axis

by Yaakov Lappin

Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Wikipedia.
Recent  gains by the pro-Assad alliance in Aleppo signal the rise of an emboldened, Iranian-led radical Shiite axis. And the more that this axis gains strength, territory, weapons and influence, the more likely it will be to threaten regional and global security.
Ideologues in Iran have formulated a Shiite jihadist vision, which holds that the Iranian Islamic revolution should take control of the entire Muslim world. Losing the Assad regime to Sunni rebels would have represented a major setback for Iran’s agenda.
In Syria, Iran has mobilized tens of thousands of Shiite militia fighters from all over the Middle East — as well as those from Hezbollah in Lebanon — to save the Assad regime.
As the Shiite axis wages a sectarian war against the Sunnis, it mobilizes and arms its proxies, and moves military assets into Syria. And its growing influence can be used for bellicose purposes in the not too distant future.
The conquest of east Aleppo is a victory for the wider, transnational Iranian-led alliance, of which the Assad regime is just one component.
A look at the order of battle assembled in Aleppo reveals that the war in Syria is not a civil conflict by any measure. In addition to Assad regime forces sent to fight Sunni rebels, there is also the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, the Shiite Iraqi Kataib Hezbollah militia, Afghan Shiite militia groups and Iranian military personnel — all of whom receive the assistance of massive Russian air power.
The large-scale, indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling in places like Aleppo resulted in mass slaughter and ethnic cleansing of many Sunni civilians, producing the largest humanitarian catastrophe and refugee crisis in the 21st century. Such extreme war crimes will be sure to produce a new generation of radical recruits for ISIS and Al Qaeda.
The Iranian Quds Force, under the command of Qassem Suleimani, orchestrates the entire ground war effort. Suleimani is very close to Iran’s supreme leader.
The Quds Force also uses Syria as a transit zone to traffic advanced weapons from Iranian and Syrian arms factories to the Hezbollah storehouses that pepper neighboring Lebanon.
Hezbollah has amassed one of the largest surface to surface rocket and missile arsenals in the world, composed of over 100,000 projectiles, all of which are aimed at Israeli cities.
According to international media reports, Israel recently launched two strikes targeting attempts to smuggle game-changing weapons into Lebanon.
Syrian dictator Basher al-Assad owes his survival to Iran and Hezbollah, and their military presence in Syria continue to expand. Assad regime and Hezbollah representatives boasted of this fact in recent statements that were highlighted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The Shiite victors will likely turn their sights on seizing southern Syria, near the Israeli border. To accomplish that, they will need to do battle with an array of Sunni rebels that now control that area (groups that include ISIS-affiliates). If successful, the axis could be tempted to build bases that could be used to attack Israel.
The same pattern repeats itself in Iraq, where Iran-backed militias are moving in on Mosul, and could later threaten Iraq’s Sunnis — and Sunnis in Yemen, where Iranian-armed Houthi rebels control large swaths of the country, and are currently at war with a Saudi-led military coalition. The Houthis also threaten international oil shipping lanes and have fired on the US Navy using Iranian-smuggled missiles.
Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is developing long-range strike capabilities that could place Europe in range, and its temporarily dormant nuclear program, make the Shiite axis more powerful than any Sunni Islamist camp.
The Iranian coalition can also lure armed Sunni groups into its orbit, as it has done in the past with the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza.
While the Israeli defense establishment has no desire to be dragged into Syria’s conflict, Jerusalem has indicated that it will act to remove any Iranian-Hezbollah base that it detects in Syria.
Few events illustrate more clearly how an ascendant Shiite jihadist axis is redrawing the map of the region than a recent military parade held by Hezbollah in the western Syrian town of Al-Qusay.
According to an assessment by the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, that parade featured Soviet-made tanks, American armored personnel carriers, artillery guns, anti-aircraft guns and powerful truck-mounted rocket launchers with an estimated range of between 90 to 180 kilometers. “It is clear that state-owned capabilities, some of them advanced, were delivered to Hezbollah,” the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said in its report.
Hezbollah, like the Assad regime and armed groups in Iraq and Yemen, is a component of an international axis whose battles against ISIS have managed to dupe some decision makers into believing that they are stabilizing forces. In actuality, the Shiite jihadists are just as radical as their Sunni jihadist counterparts — albeit more tactically prudent — and are far better armed and better organized.
Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

The Antichrist Calls For Peace

Iraq's Sadr calls for 'immediate halt' to Syria violence
The New Arab

Iraq’s Sadr calls for ‘immediate halt’ to Syria violence

The Iraqi cleric warned against the shedding of blood in Syria [AFP]
Date of publication: 18 December, 2016
Prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for an immediate halt to the war in Syria and an end to violations in a statement on Saturday.
Although Sadr did not direct his comments to any particular faction of the Syrian war, it comes at the time of heightened bloodshed following a massive offensive on Aleppo.
Sadr urged for an end to “the cycle of war in Syria and a halt to all the violations”, adding that it is important that “all Muslims are treated equally in Islamic countries”, according news site Arabi21which accessed the statement. 
The Iraqi cleric warned against “shedding the blood of your brother without right or in the favour of a political policy”.
Sadr said “everyone must see us as advocates of peace. If Prophet Mohammed was among us today, he would be heavily disturbed with what is going on. This is a massaive disaster and we must all call for peace”.
Sadr urged “all faiths and religions to keep the spirit of unity,” adding that “moderate Sunnis must be open to work” in the interest of the wider Islamic nation to bring an end to the injustices.
Aleppo has seen some of the worst violence of the nearly six-year war that has killed more than 400,000 people.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura estimated that as of Thursday around 40,000 civilians and perhaps as many as 5,000 opposition fighters remained in Aleppo’s rebel enclave.
The ICRC appealed for safe passage for the civilians still trapped in the city.
“People have suffered a lot. Please come to an agreement and help save thousands of lives,” said ICRC Syria delegation head Marianne Gasser.
“We cannot abandon these people.”
The main regional supporters of the rival sides in the devastating civil war have engaged in a flurry of diplomacy to try to secure a resumption of evacuations.
The official Iranian news agency IRNA said the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran would meet on Tuesday in Moscow to discuss the conflict.

The China Nuclear Horn Grows (Daniel 7)

Atul Aneja
BEIJING: DECEMBER 18, 2016 18:04 IST
UPDATED: DECEMBER 18, 2016 18:08 IST
China appears to be engaged in rapidly developing a long-range bomber, to fortify its nuclear deterrent — a move that is acquiring sharper focus after the United States President-elect Donald Trump questioned Washington’s unqualified support for Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
The state-run Xinhua news agency is relaying comments attributed to China’s Air Force Commander Ma Xiaotian that Beijing is developing the next-generation long-range bombers. The report said that the remarks by Gen. Ma confirmed the development of the “legendary H-20” bomber.
So far, it hasn’t done it
The report quoted Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, director of the PLA Navy’s Expert Consultation Committee, as saying that China has so far not developed a large-tonnage, and long-range strategic bomber. The existing H-6 bomber that is in service is medium-sized, and not a strategic bomber. He added that China’s new range of strategic bombers will be at par with B-2 bombers of the United States, and have difficult-to-spot stealth features.
Admiral Yin noted that China has three specific advantages in developing the H-20 bomber. First, the developers can derive stealth technology from the J-20 and J-31 fighters — two China built stealth fighters. Second, China has already manufactured large transport aircraft such as the Y-20 and C-919, which can yield know-how to build big-sized strategic bombers. Besides, the new generation bombers can be armed with cruise missiles, nuclear and other weapons, which are already available in the Chinese arsenal. As a result of these advantages in materials, design and weaponry, the time lines for developing the H-20 can be shortened, though a typical cycle for making strategic bombers is around 10 years.
Trump may change status quo?
Following Mr. Trump’s election and his perceived inclination to change the status quo with Beijing, an op-ed in Global Times, affiliated with the Communist Party of China (CPC), had advocated the rapid development of the land based DF-41 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The DF-41 missile, which is undergoing trials, can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads. With a range of around 12,000 kilometers, it can target the entire U.S. mainland, if launched from eastern China.
The Washington Free Beacon — an online newspaper — is quoting experts as saying that China is reconfiguring its entire range of land based atomic missiles, by enabling them to carry multiple warheads. That includes changes in the single warhead DF-5 as well as the DF-31 missiles.
Besides, China is modernising its more survivable sea based deterrent-necessary for a retaliatory nuclear second strike — by adding multiple warheads to its JI-2 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM). The new missile will be either called JL-2C or JL-3.
Drone seizure deepens rift
The seizure of a U.S. underwater drone by China on Thursday near Subic Bay in the South China Sea has added to the growing friction between Beijing and the Trump administration-in-waiting.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the incident took place when the U.S. oceanographic survey ship Bowditch was about to retrieve the drone, which was used to collect data on salinity and water temperature.
But Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun defended China’s action. “We had to examine and verify the device in a bid to avoid any harm it might cause to the safety of navigation and personnel,” he said in a statement issued late on Saturday night. He added that the drone would be returned “in an appropriate manner.”
Trump’s tweet and tit-for-tat
Mr. Trump has waded into the drone controversy with a tweet, which said that, “We should tell China that we dont want the drone they stole back — let them keep it!”
His tweet triggered a cyberstorm in the Chinese social media. “Next time we will capture the US aircraft carrier without asking, since boss Trump is so generous,” said a posting on Sina Weibo, Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “What are you so arrogant for? We will return it once it is disassembled,” commented another on the micro-blogging site.

Why Iran Already Has Nuclear Weapons

Is Iran Cooperating With North Korea on a Nuclear Weapon?
by Staff | 12.16.16 8:27 am
Spurred by a letter written by Sen. Ted Cruz (R – Texas) to three senior Obama administration officials, investigative journalist Claudia Rosett on Thursday examined the possibility that Iran and North Korea are collaborating on nuclear weapons research in the wake of last year’s nuclear deal.
The most salient question, Rosett wrote in Forbes, is the one Cruz addressed to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “Has the U.S. intelligence community observed any possible nuclear collaboration between Iran and North Korea…?”
She explained that the two nations have a history of collaborating on weapons development. Usually, North Korea undertakes much of the development while Iran that foots the bill, with technicians traveling back and forth between the countries.
Although there is currently no official confirmation from Washington that the two nations have collaborated in nuclear weapons development, their cooperation on ballistic missiles is well-documented. This raises the possibility, Rosett wrote, that “the two countries are also in nuclear cahoots, because ballistic missiles are basically cost-efficient only as vehicles for delivering nuclear warheads.”
While Iran has publicly scaled back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for billions in sanctions relief, “cash-hungry North Korea has never been busier,” Rosett pointed out. North Korea is believed to have carried out two nuclear tests this year, bringing the total it has conducted since 2006 to five.
Rosett observed that it is odd for Iran to “pour resources into testing ballistic missiles,” which are designed to carry nuclear warheads, if it has truly sworn off developing such weapons. This suggests that “North Korea’s nuclear program might be secretly doubling as a nuclear backshop for Iran.”
In his letter, Cruz raised concerns about a North Korean ballistic launch in September that, according to state media, had a thrust of 80-ton — enough power to carry “a heavier, or less-minaturized nuclear warhead to the United States.” The 80 tons thrust was mentioned in a January 17, 2016 press release by the Treasury Department sanctioning Iranian entities for ballistic missile procurement. “Within the past several years, Iranian missile technicians from SHIG traveled to North Korea to work on an 80-ton rocket booster being developed by the North Korean government,” the release noted.
While these link do not constitute proof of nuclear collaboration, they do raise red flags, Rosett wrote. “If the silent officials of the Obama administration are confident that there has been no nuclear cooperation between Iran and North Korea, it’s time to put that assessment in writing and send it to Cruz,” she concluded.
Rosett’s concerns echo those expressed by Ilan Berman in the National Interest in August 2015, who wrote that for decades Iran and North Korea have forged a “formidable alliance – the centerpiece of which is cooperation on nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities.” He explained that for years reports have indicated that North Korea has actively worked to aid Iran’s nuclear program. North Korea sent “hundreds of nuclear experts” to work in Iran, while making “key nuclear software” available to Iranian scientists.
After Pyongyang tested a nuclear weapon in early January, retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, told Fox News, “We know that the Iranians were at the last nuclear test a couple of year ago, [and] we know that the Iranians are helping the North Koreans miniaturize their nuclear weapons.” He indicated that the North Korean nuclear program experienced several failures until it received assistance from Iran. “What does this say about our nuclear deal with Iran?” Scales asked. “It says Iran is able to circumvent it by using their technological colleagues in Pakistan and their test site facility in North Korea to push their own nuclear ambitions.” He added that “the Iranians and North Koreans are both developing long-range ballistic missiles by collaborating together.”
Later in January, researchers from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies published a research paper (.pdf) outlining Iran’s past and present military dealings with North Korea, concluding that “the signs of military and scientific cooperation between Iran and North Korea suggest that Pyongyang could have been involved in Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic-missile program, and that state-run trading companies may have assisted in critical aspects of Iran’s illicit nuclear-related activities.” They added that more needs to be known about Iranian-North Korean cooperation, recommending a number of measures, including getting China more involved in non-proliferation efforts, increasing the study of locations where Iran and North Korea focus their efforts on procuring sanctioned technologies, and ensuring the transparency of the international financial system.
In How Iran and North Korea Became Cyber-Terror Buddies, which was published in the January 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Rosett offered some background on the two rogue nations’ history of joint missile development.
In recent decades, this relationship has proven particularly fruitful. In 1992, for example, a North Korean freighter slipped past U.S. Navy surveillance and delivered a cargo of Scud missiles to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. In 2003, a North Korean defector testified before Congress that he traveled from North Korea to Iran in 1989 and helped the Iranians test-fire a North Korean missile. In 2007, a secret State Department cable made public by Wikileaks stated,
Iran and North Korea have continued their longstanding cooperation on ballistic missile technology via air-shipments of ballistic-missile related items. We assess that some of the shipments consist of ballistic missile jet vanes that frequently transit Beijing on regularly scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air.
In 2010, a Congressional Research Service report by analyst Larry A. Niksch estimated that “North Korea earns about $1.5 billion annually from missile sales to other countries. It appears that much of this comes from missile sales and collaboration with Iran in missile development.” Also in 2010, the New York Timesreported that Iran obtained 19 missiles from North Korea that were “much more powerful than anything Washington has publicly conceded that Tehran has in its arsenal.” This too was based on a classified State Department cable made public by Wikileaks. In 2013, a report from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center stated, “Iran has an extensive missile development program, and has received support from entities in Russia, China, and North Korea.” Among Iran’s ballistic missiles is the intermediate-range Shahab 3, based on North Korea’s No Dong missile, with a range long enough to strike Israel.
[Photo: CNBC / YouTube ]