New York earthquake: City of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New York earthquake: City at risk of ‘dangerous shaking from far away’

Joshua Nevett

Published 30th April 2018

SOME of New York City’s tallest skyscrapers are at risk of being shaken by seismic waves triggered by powerful earthquakes from miles outside the city, a natural disaster expert has warned.

Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.


A series of large fault lines that run underneath NYC’s five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, are capable of triggering large earthquakes.

Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.

The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.

Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.

EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors

But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.

The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.

What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.

The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.


THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City


RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS

“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher

This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.

“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.

Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.

But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.

“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.

In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.

“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.

On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.


FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.

“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.

“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

The Sixth Seal Is Past Due (Revelation 6:12) 

New York City is Past Due for an Earthquake

by , 03/22/11

filed under: News

New York City may appear to be an unlikely place for a major earthquake, but according to history, we’re past due for a serious shake. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that about once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the Big Apple. The last one was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 — no one was killed, but buildings were damaged.

Any tremor above a 6.0 magnitude can be catastrophic, but it is extremely unlikely that New York would ever experience a quake like the recent 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.

There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, which may have caused two small tremors in 1981 and a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1737. There is also a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation rates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate.

John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory, said that if a 5.0 magnitude quake struck New York today, it would result in hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars in damages. The city’s skyscrapers would not collapse, but older brick buildings and chimneys would topple, likely resulting in casualities.

The Earth Observatory is expanding its studies of potential earthquake damage to the city. They currently have six seismometers at different landmarks throughout the five boroughs, and this summer, they plan to place one at the arch in Washington Square Park and another in Bryant Park.

Won-Young Kim, who works alongside Armbuster, says his biggest concern is that we can’t predict when an earthquake might hit. “It can happen anytime soon,” Kim told the Metro. If it happened tomorrow, he added, “I would not be surprised. We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

Armbuster voiced similar concerns to the Daily News. “Will there be one in my lifetime or your lifetime? I don’t know,” he said. “But this is the longest period we’ve gone without one.”

Via Metro and NY Daily News

Images © Ed Yourdon

North Korea Makes More Nuclear Concessions

TOKYO — The South Korean government is trying to keep up the momentum in diplomatic efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear question, announcing Sunday that the North would dismantle its main nuclear test site next month and that its leader, Kim Jong Un, was prepared to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The South’s presidential Blue House also revealed a symbolic step of goodwill from Kim: North Korea would move its clock forward half an hour to return to the same time zone as Seoul and Tokyo.

This came two days after a historic summit between South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and Kim, which resulted in a joint statement containing a vague agreement to work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

Kim pledged to dismantle the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, in the north of his country, in May, a Blue House spokesman said Sunday.

“Some say that we are terminating facilities that are not functioning, but you will see that we have two more tunnels that are bigger than the existing ones and that they are in good condition,” Moon’s chief press secretary, Yoon Young-chan, quoted Kim as saying.

There have been reports that the test site, buried under Mount Mantap, was suffering from “tired mountain syndrome” and was unusable after September’s huge test, which caused an earthquake so big that satellites caught images of the mountain above the site actually moving.

But numerous nuclear experts have cast doubt on that theory, and Kim apparently did, too.

Kim said he would invite security experts and journalists to the North to observe the closure of the site, Yoon said.

In Washington, national security adviser John Bolton said the Trump administration isn’t “starry-eyed” about Kim’s promises. The United States, he said on “Fox News Sunday,” isn’t ready to ease sanctions or offer other concessions to North Korea before Pyongyang fully commits to denuclearization.

The White House, though, continues to prepare for an upcoming meeting between Trump and Kim, and Bolton said Sunday that the details are being negotiated.

“We need to agree on a place, and that remains an issue,” he said. “But if, in fact, Kim has made a strategic decision to give up his entire nuclear weapons program, then I think deciding on the place and the date should be fairly easy.”

There are other issues, Bolton said, that the administration wants to press soon, if not immediately: “ballistic missiles, chemical and biological weapons, the American hostages, the Japanese abductees.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview Sunday with ABC News, also brought up the issue of three Americans who are being held by North Korea. Pompeo, who secretly met with Kim in North Korea over Easter weekend, said while on a visit to Israel on Sunday that Kim would not be alarmed about American intentions even if the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

This is not the first time North Korea has invited outside experts to witness the shutdown of some aspect of its nuclear program. In 2008, Pyongyang invited international journalists to film the destruction of the cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, from which it had been harvesting plutonium to make its first bombs.

It turned out that North Korea was building a separate uranium enrichment facility so it could continue to produce fissile material even without Yongbyon.

Kim reportedly said while meeting with Moon that he had no intention of using his nuclear weapons against neighboring countries.

“Although I am inherently resistant toward America, people will see that I am not the kind of person who fires nukes at South Korea, the Pacific or America,” Kim said during the summit, Yoon told reporters Sunday.

“Why would we keep nuclear weapons and live in a difficult condition if we often meet with Americans to build trust and they promise us to end the war and not to invade us?” Yoon quoted Kim as saying.

That will be viewed as disingenuous, to say the least, given that Kim’s representatives and North Korean state media outlets repeatedly threatened last year to fire nuclear-tipped missiles at the United States and to detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

But this is a new year, and Kim, in a strong position having obtained demonstrably functional nuclear weapons and missiles, appears ready to deal.

Kim also said he would turn the clocks forward in North Korea to put them back in sync with South Korea and Japan, Yoon said.

In 2015, on Aug. 15 — the day the Koreas mark their independence from Japan’s colonial rule — the Kim regime put the clocks back half an hour to create the “Pyongyang time” zone. It framed the decision as a rebuke to Japan.

South Korea’s progressive president wants to use his summit with Kim as a springboard to improve Pyongyang’s relations with Tokyo and, particularly, with Washington.

Moon and President Trump spoke on the phone for 75 minutes on Saturday night Seoul time and agreed that South Korea and the United States should continue to closely coordinate “so that the planned U.S.-North Korea summit generates an agreement on concrete measures to realize complete denuclearization,” the Blue House spokesman said.

Trump tweeted afterward that he “had a long and very good talk with President Moon of South Korea.”

“Things are going very well, time and location of meeting with North Korea is being set,” Trump wrote. “Also spoke to Prime Minister Abe of Japan to inform him of the ongoing negotiations.”

Moon also spoke with Abe over the weekend and “offered to lay a bridge between North Korea and Japan,” another Blue House spokesman said.

Moon and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang are expected to meet in Tokyo for a trilateral meeting with Abe — a significant breakthrough in the frosty relations in the region — on May 9.

Moon will then travel to Washington for a meeting with Trump about the latter’s summit with Kim, expected to take place at the end of May or beginning of June.

Influential members of Congress expressed some doubts Sunday about relations with North Korea.

“A lot of what they are agreeing to now, they have agreed to in the past. And as it has turned out, they have something very different in mind when they talk about denuclearization,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, during an appearance on ABC News’s “This Week.”

Speaking on CNN, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said he would not have described Kim as “honorable,” as Trump did last week after months of mocking the North Korean leader.

“I think [Trump] is better to be able to just call him ‘rocket man’ and to be able to stick with that than honorable, just because he is a ruthless dictator that does public executions of anyone who disagrees,” Lankford, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told “State of the Union.”

Tony Romm in Washington and Carol Morello in Tel Aviv contributed to this report.


Ripping up the Iran deal will bring chaos ripping up the Iran deal bring containment or chaos?

Frantic last-minute initiatives by European leaders hoping to coax Donald Trump into salvaging the Iran nuclear deal resemble desperate attempts to rearrange deckchairs on an already partly submerged Titanic.

President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals to insert beefed-up language about ballistic missiles and impose tougher penalties for non-cooperation ignore the crushing reality that this deal’s shortcomings have materially contributed toward destabilizing the Middle East. The 2015 deal neutralized all meaningful international leverage for preventing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from meddling in Arab states. As a consequence, Tehran’s aggressive regional policies have expanded exponentially.

The deal has allowed disparate Tehran-sponsored Iraqi militia forces to be radically expanded into the Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi umbrella force of around 140,000 fighters. The Hashd today wields de facto military control of much of Iraq, while seeking to win the upcoming elections and impose its choice of prime minister.

The IRGC in Syria has established multinational paramilitary forces (including Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Lebanese), which have kept Assad in power at the cost of Syria becoming an Iranian protectorate.

Minority Houthi paramilitaries have benefited from Iranian weapons and training to overrun much of Yemen, staging missile attacks into Saudi territory and allowing Iran to encircle the GCC region.

Iran-based Bahrainis have run a terrorist campaign, in which Iranian munitions were used to murder two dozen policemen. Hundreds of Bahraini militants traveled overseas for training by Iranian proxies, aspiring to establish an “Islamic Republic of Bahrain” along Iranian lines.

And Hezbollah has increased its stranglehold on the Lebanese state; sent its forces into Syria; recklessly taken the nation to the brink of a new war with Israel; and now aspires to consolidate its influence in forthcoming elections. Iran is also meddling throughout Central Asia, notably in Afghanistan with increased support for insurgents.

Such brazen expansion of activity by an emboldened Tehran would have been inconceivable without the disintegration of containment efforts resulting from Barack Obama’s overtures. The financial dividends from the easing of sanctions were furthermore invested in these overseas adventures, giving rise to justifiable anger among impoverished Iranians at their nation’s wealth being squandered on bankrolling regional terrorism.

The US must find a strategy to combat the multifaceted geostrategic threat posed by an emboldened and unconstrained Iran.

Baria Alamuddin

The legacy of sanctions has itself been problematic. Just as Saddam Hussein, during the 1990s, enriched his regime through the resulting black market in oil and goods while Iraqis starved, the IRGC became immensely rich through cross-border smuggling in weapons, oil, drugs and other necessities, laundering billions through regional banks and front companies. Sanctions favored hardliners who thrived on the climate of conflict.

If Trump tears up the deal without spelling out a tough program of deterrence, the result may be to exacerbate the regime’s aggressive policies. Principle recourses for retaliation would be through regional assets, including terrorist proxies in Iraq and Syria, which have regularly threatened to attack US forces. Iran has likewise made unsubtle threats about attacking US forces in Bahrain or striking elsewhere in the Gulf. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has a long record of terrorist attacks against Western interests around the world.

Prior to 2015, Israel repeatedly threatened to unilaterally bomb Iran’s nuclear program out of existence. Tel Aviv today faces the additional provocation of Iran-backed militias patrolling the Golan Heights and a resurgent Hezbollah. A reinstatement of Iran’s nuclear program would be seen by Israeli generals as an additional threat, setting the stage for an apocalyptic confrontation played out across an already shattered region.

Despite being mortal enemies, Iran and Israel aren’t so different in their methods of stealing Arab lands: Israeli officials use administrative pretexts to uproot hundreds of olive trees and dispossess Palestinians who have farmed the land for decades, while Hashd proxies burn and pillage Sunni villages across central Iraq. The cumulative impact of such acts of brutal attrition, day after day, year after year, is that, without the world noticing, these occupying forces ultimately come to dominate the land in its entirety.

Iran has little interest in basket case states like Yemen and Syria for their own sake. Dominance of these territories, in parallel with the expansion of its military and WMD capabilities, is about Iran gaining a dominant global posture, allowing it to threaten Western and GCC states with impunity. The use of cyber-warfare, and encroachment into global trade chokepoints, like Mandib, Hormuz and the eastern Mediterranean, are additional manifestations of these aggressive transnational ambitions.

The potential for an imminent breakthrough in North Korea’s nuclear program is a reminder that even crazed megalomaniac dictators are essentially realists when it becomes a question of survival. Kim Jong Un saw the very realistic threat of a nuclear confrontation with the US, which he and his regime had little prospect of surviving. Kim responded with the offer of talks toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The surprisingly strong chemistry between North and South Korean leaders during last week’s talks is testimony to the genuine political will for achieving peace — this is particularly pertinent given Pyongyang’s past role in exporting nuclear components to Iran, Syria and Libya. Successful conclusion of these efforts would furthermore offer momentum for confronting Iran.

As with North Korea, Tehran must be forced into a comparable position where, for its existential survival, it is compelled to abide by international norms. Enough of playing nice; enough of sticking-plaster solutions and burying our heads in the sand pretending that the 2015 deal solved everything. If not faced with a robust program of deterrence, Iran has little to lose by retaliating aggressively to the demise of the nuclear deal and taking its nuclear program out of mothballs.

Trump may be right to describe the deal as a colossal failure. However, the onus is now on his administration to deliver a strategy to combat the multifaceted geostrategic threat posed by an emboldened and unconstrained Iran. Are world leaders up to the challenge of preventing Tehran from completing its transition from regional irritant to global menace?

Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate and has interviewed numerous heads of state.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

Europe Desperately Tries to Stop Trump

Merkel follows Macron to Washington in hopes of holding Trump to Iran nuclear deal

By Tracy Wilkinson and Noah Bierman

President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House on Friday. (Michael Reynolds / EPA/Shutterstock)

President Trump hosted two European leaders this week who lobbied him to stick with the Iran nuclear deal, but there was little indication their efforts swayed his urge to walk away from the landmark pact.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on his first full day on the job, said Friday in Brussels that it was “unlikely” Trump would remain in the accord after a self-imposed May 12 deadline, barring a “substantial fix” negotiated with European leaders.

Speaking on the margins of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit for foreign ministers in Brussels, Pompeo said that no decision has been made but that he was communicating Trump’s position to allies in Europe and the Middle East.

“Absent a substantial fix, absent overcoming the flaws of the deal, he is unlikely to stay in that deal,” said Pompeo, who next visits Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan.

In Washington, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Trump at the White House on Friday for a three-hour working session. Iran topped the agenda, along with Syria, trade and NATO.

European allies have warned that leaving the 2015 multinational Iran accord would have dangerous consequences and might encourage Tehran to resume its now-blocked nuclear program. U.S. and European diplomats have met several times to negotiate possible supplemental agreements to address Trump’s concerns.

Merkel and Trump clearly did not see eye to eye Friday on the wisdom of pulling out of the nuclear deal.

“I set out my position, and … obviously, this agreement is anything but perfect,” Merkel said at a joint news conference. “It will not solve all the problems with Iran. It is one piece of the mosaic, one building block, if you like, on which we can build up this structure.

“We will now see what sort of decisions are made by [the] American partners,” she said, adding that the United States and Europe “ought to be in lockstep” on curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Trump repeated his characterization of the Islamic Republic as a “murderous regime” that was the driving force behind militant groups across the Middle East. “We must ensure it doesn’t even get close to a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Trump would not say whether he had an alternative to the nuclear deal or whether he would use force to stop Tehran from resuming its nuclear program.

“I don’t talk about whether or not I’d use military force. That’s not appropriate to be talking about,” he said. “But, I can tell you this, they will not be doing nuclear weapons; that I can tell you, OK? They’re not going to be doing nuclear weapons. You can bank on it.”

Merkel met with Trump two days after French President Emmanuel Macron made a similar pitch during a state visit to Washington. The United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China signed the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015, and United Nations monitors have repeatedly found Iran in compliance with its terms.

Under the accord, Iran destroyed or dismantled the bulk of its nuclear infrastructure and shipped its nuclear fuel out of the country under strict monitoring. In exchange, a network of international economic sanctions were eased and seized property, including cash held in U.S. banks, was returned to Tehran.

Trump has said he will decide by May 12 whether to pull out of the accord and unilaterally reimpose U.S. sanctions on Tehran. It’s unclear how quickly he would apply sanctions, however, which could buy time for further negotiations.

Trump and other critics say the accord is deficient because it lets some of the nuclear restrictions on Iran expire over time. They also complain that the nuclear negotiations did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its support for militant groups elsewhere in the Middle East.

Merkel concurred that Iran has inserted itself in its neighbors’ crises with support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces against rebel fighters, some of them allied with the U.S.

But she noted Iran had permitted frequent inspections by U.N. monitors under the nuclear accord. The critics argue that the inspectors do not have access to Iranian military bases and facilities.

“We are of the opinion that the [accord] is a first step that has contributed to slowing down their activities,” Merkel said. “But we also think, from a German point of perspective, that this is not sufficient in order to see to it that Iran’s ambitions are curbed and are contained.”

Merkel and Trump also discussed NATO and tariffs he plans to impose on steel and aluminum producers, chief among them Germany.

He has repeatedly complained about members of the NATO military alliance that do not yet spend 2% of their gross domestic product on defense, as they agreed at a summit four years ago. Merkel indicated she and Trump did not come to terms on the tariffs question.

“We had an exchange of views,” she said. “The president will decide.”

The freewheeling Trump and the staid Merkel have had a decidedly tense relationship — months went by last year when they reportedly didn’t even speak by phone — but the chill appeared to ease somewhat Friday.

Trump appeared to acknowledge his lack of popularity in Europe but added his own twist.

“They may not like Donald Trump, but you have to understand,” he said, “that means I’m doing a good job.”

Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major Quake

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”

That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.

His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

Why Australia Will Become a Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)


More than 60 years after hosting British nuclear tests, Canberra is extending benefits to veterans who were exposed.


Alongside this assessment, both governments had not deemed the specific service of these military personnel “warlike,” a classification which would have qualified them for extended benefits. This shift in policy from the Australian government implicitly acknowledges that radiation exposure has been the cause of many veterans’ health problems, and that the service that led to this exposure should be reclassified to reflect the serious risks they were asked to face.

The Australian government handed down its annual budget on Tuesday night, local time, for the forthcoming fiscal year (July 1st to June 30 2018). Alongside the usual big ticket items like taxation policy, and health and education expenditures, was an interesting and long overdue recognition of Australia’s nuclear past.

AUD $133 million (USD $98 million) has been allocated to military veterans who have been exposed to radiation from nuclear weapons or activity while serving in the military.  The money will provide any surviving military personnel with a health “gold card” entitling the holder to all necessary health care needs, whether these conditions are related to service within the military or not. Previously, both the British and Australian governments had deemed it too difficult to prove any relationship between exposure to radiation and subsequent health conditions, despite lobbying from veterans.

In October 1952 the British government began testing for its nuclear weapons program around the Montebello Islands on the coast of Western Australia. It subsequently conducted two more test within the islands in May and June of 1956. Two Australian navy vessels were stationed within several miles of the blast site during the test of May 1956, with many sailors on the deck during the test. In the years after the tests, crew from these vessels spent time on the islands working without protective clothing, uninformed about the dangers of lingering radiation. Indigenous Australian living on the mainland close to the islands were also not informed about the dangers posed by radioactive fallout.

Of the men stationed on the navy vessels, 43 percent of the 51 men surveyed and still alive have some form of cancer; of the 28 who are no longer alive, 14 died from cancer. A medical study conducted for the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association in 1999 concluded that 30 percent of the personnel involved in the tests had died from cancer or cancer-related illnesses, mostly in their 50s.

After the Montebello Islands, the British shifted their nuclear testing operations to the South Australian desert, and between 1956 and 1963 they conducted seven nuclear tests at two sites; Maralinga and Emu Field, as well as a number of smaller experiments with plutonium in the region. It was admitted by the British government in 2001 that they had used Australian troops during these tests in radiation experiments.

Demonstrating how slow the process has been for the British government to acknowledge the detrimental effects of their actions, this admission came eight years after the government of the United Kingdom made an ex-gratia payment to the Australian government AUD $35 million to assist in the clean up of the Maralinga site. The site had been deemed to be dangerously radioactive in an Australian state inquiry into the British nuclear tests released in 1985. Now in 2017, the Australian government is taking full responsibility for the health of those military servicemen who were affected by the tests.

This responsibility is also being extended to those Australian soldiers who were stationed in Hiroshima as part of the post-World War II British Commonwealth Occupational Force in Japan. Their exposure to the radiation present from the bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city is also now being acknowledged as a military service worthy of a veteran’s gold card.

Australia’s national memory of the British nuclear testing was revived last September, the 60th anniversary of the first test conducted. The anniversary has spawned a book detailing the Australian government decisions that led to the British tests, and the legacy they left, as well as an art exhibition depicting the aftermath.

The South Australian government’s recent consideration of hosting a nuclear waste dump has also brought attention to the country’s nuclear legacy. This, combined with Australia’s recent purchase of French-designed submarines, in part due to how they can easily be converted to nuclear power,\ would be significant shifts in Australia’s nuclear policy. Shifts seemingly at odds with the government’s long overdue recognition of the damage that can be caused by nuclear material.

What’s at Stake: A Nuclear Iran (Daniel 8:4)’s at Stake If Trump Kills the Iran Nuclear Deal?

Lin Noueihed More stories by Lin Noueihed

  • From oil to business to politics, the impact could be global
  • Trump has May 12 deadline for decision on sanctions waiver
A busy pedestrian crossing in Tehran.Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg

U.S. President Donald Trump has until May 12 to decide whether to perhaps fatally undermine a years-in-the-making nuclear deal with Iran, with the consequences likely to be felt from Middle East war zones to oil markets. If the U.S. refuses to continue to waive sanctions under the six-nation agreement reached in 2015, there’s a real threat Iran will also walk away. European powers are scrambling to persuade Trump to preserve the agreement, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington on Friday on the heels of French President Emmanuel Macron. So what’s at stake if the U.S. withdraws?

Oil Markets

A “snap-back” in Iran sanctions by the U.S. would almost certainly reduce Iran’s oil exports, further stretching an oil market that’s seen prices rise 11 percent this year. What’s more uncertain is exactly how far shipments would fall.

A recent Bloomberg survey predicted Iranian exports would be cut by 500,000 barrels a day. Iran is currently shipping just over 2 million barrels a day. More than half of that goes to China and India, while European Union nations currently buy about a quarter.

Although America purchases no Iranian oil, that might not matter. If U.S. sanctions put banks, shipping companies, refiners, insurers and ports at risk of losing access to the global banking system, they would have little option but to end their involvement with Iran. Much depends on whether Trump offers waivers and exemptions.

Doing Business

A resumption in U.S. sanctions could derail tens of billions of dollars in business deals. While a U.S. exit may not render signed deals illegal, new sanctions would make it risky for international companies to continue working in Iran due to potential ramifications for their U.S. business or banking transactions.

It’s not just companies involved in Iran that are worried. Privately, business leaders increasingly fret about the growing risk of conflict in the region if Iran resumes uranium enrichment in response to a U.S. withdrawal — and what that could mean for world trade.

Among the larger deals at stake:

  • Airbus Group SE signed off on a contract with Iran for 100 jetliners worth about $19 billion at list prices
  • Boeing Co. and Iran’s Aseman airline signed a $3 billion agreement for 30 737 Max jets; the U.S. company also struck a $16.6 billion deal with national carrier Iran Air for 80 aircraft
  • Total SA along with China National Petroleum Corp. signed a 20-year agreement valued at $5 billion to develop phase 11 of the South Pars offshore gas field

Global Power Balance

On the international stage, the biggest winners from a resumption of American sanctions could be two other signatories to the deal — China and Russia, whose influence has gradually spread in the Middle East as the U.S. has scaled back its engagement.

Russia is already fighting, and winning, on the same side as Iran in the Syria conflict. And cold feet among European and U.S. investors could herald a new boom for some Chinese companies, already major investors in Iran, where they have signed multi-billion dollar agreements in the oil, industrial and transportation sectors.

Nuclear Risks

The collapse of the accord could hamper denuclearization efforts, and not just in the Middle East. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned this week that if the U.S. exits, his country might resume its nuclear program. Iranian officials have also threatened to leave the Non-Proliferation Treaty if the deal crumbles. Iran denies its enrichment was ever intended to build weapons as the U.S., Israel and others had charged.

North Korea, which does have a nuclear arsenal, will be watching developments closely. Ditching a deal the U.S. helped shape could undermine American credibility at the negotiating table as it seeks denuclearization in the Korean peninsula. Some analysts say the upcoming talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might be weighing on Trump — and leave him more inclined to preserve Iran’s agreement.

Iranian Political Dynamics

A collapse of the nuclear deal would be a blow for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the reformists who championed a diplomatic settlement to the nuclear standoff that had left Iran increasingly isolated. The nuclear deal is a rare concrete achievement for Rouhani, who was re-elected last year but has been weakened by demonstrations, a currency crisis and problems in the banking sector.

Hardliners, who warned through years of talks that the U.S. was not a trustworthy partner, would emerge strengthened. There are also signs that the attitudes of ordinary Iranians, many of whom welcomed a deal they hoped would bring prosperity, are hardening.

“If the U.S. doesn’t stick by its obligations then it’ll go back to before and we will start enriching uranium,” Morteza, an unemployed Tehran resident, said. “It’s Iran’s right to do so, because they’re the ones violating it, not us.”

Risk of Conflict

If the deal collapses and Iran restarts its nuclear program, the risk of confrontation could increase. Washington’s leading Middle East allies — Israel and Saudi Arabia — are both determined to roll back Iranian influence in their neighborhood. Israel in the past has threatened to bomb Iranian nuclear sites to prevent it obtaining a weapons capability.

The potential for a broader conflict is compounded by the war in Syria, which has already drawn in Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Russia, the U.S., Turkey and Israel.

Defying the U.S.

The amount of turbulence, especially for businesses, will depend on how Iran, and other powers, respond to any U.S. exit. “If the Americans wind up walking away from the deal but the rest of the world is able to say ‘we are sticking to our approach,’ then this might not be so catastrophic for investments in Iran,” said Alex Vatanka, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

— With assistance by Stuart Wallace

The Growing Threat of Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Geneva (AFP) – A top UN official sounded the alarm Monday over a new, looming arms race and warned that the risk that devastating nuclear weapons could be used was on the rise.

“The threat of the use, intentional or otherwise, of nuclear weapons is growing,” the UN’s representative for disarmament affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, told a preliminary review meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The United States, which holds one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, also warned the conference that the prospects for progress on disarmament was currently “bleak”.

The NPT, negotiated at the height of the Cold War nearly a half century ago, seeks to prevent the spread of atomic weapons while putting the onus on nuclear states to reduce their stockpiles.

Speaking at the opening of the Geneva meeting, Nakamitsu warned that “the world today faces similar challenges to the context that gave birth to the NPT.”

– ‘Qualitative arms race’ –

“Rhetoric about the necessity and utility of nuclear weapons is on the rise,” she said, stressing that “modernisation programmes by nuclear-weapons states are leading to what many see as a new, qualitative arms race.”

The NPT treaty, which counts 191 member states, faces a comprehensive review every five years, with preparatory committees each year in between.

The next full review of the treaty is scheduled for 2020, 50 years after the NPT first took effect.

This year’s meeting comes after North Korea, which pulled out of the treaty in 2003, declared a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests and said it would dismantle its nuclear test site.

Many speakers at the Geneva meeting welcomed the announcement, but they also voiced caution.

European Union representative Jacek Bylica stressed for instance the need to “keep up maximum pressure (on North Korea) until it embarks on a credible path towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.”

Christopher Ford, US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, insisted that Pyongyang had “yet to return to compliance” with the NPT.

North Korea’s nuclear programme was one reason why “the nonproliferation regime today faces great threats,” Ford said.

He also pointed to Iran’s nuclear programme, which he said remained “dangerously close to rapid weaponisation.”

US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its atomic programme unless new restrictions are imposed on its missile programme and other areas by May 12.

A number of speakers Monday meanwhile voiced their support for the Iran deal.

Nakamitsu stressed the UN’s backing of the agreement as “the best way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”

In his speech, Ford also took aim at Moscow, accusing it of violating its “arms control obligations” and decried “the deleterious impact on our collective security” of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

His comments sparked an angry back-and-forth on the floor with Syria’s main backer, with Russian representative Vladimir Yermakov slamming the US for trying to divert attention from nuclear non-proliferation.

– ‘Untenable excuses’ –

Five of the world’s nuclear-armed states — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States — are parties to the NPT.

But India and Pakistan, as well as Israel, which has never acknowledged it has nuclear weapons, have never signed the treaty.

Despite their treaty obligations, observers say that all nuclear-armed NPT members are engaged in modernising their arsenals and making nuclear weapons a more central part of their defence strategies.

President Donald Trump’s administration has for instance recently decided to upgrade the US nuclear weapons arsenal and to complement massive “strategic” bombs with smaller “tactical” weapons, in a move critics say would make them easier to use.

During Monday’s meeting, China’s representative Fu Cong accused Washington of using “untenable excuses to intensify its nuclear capability and nuclear deterrence policy and lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons.”

The Next Major Quake: The Sixth Seal of NYC

New York is OVERDUE an earthquake from a ‘brittle grid’ of faults under the city, expert warns

  • New York City last experienced a M5 or higher earthquake in 1884, experts say
  • It’s thought that these earthquakes occur on a roughly 150-year periodicity 
  • Based on this, some say the city could be overdue for the next major quake 

By Cheyenne Macdonald For

Published: 15:50 EDT, 1 September 2017 | Updated: 12:00 EDT, 2 September 2017

When you think of the impending earthquake risk in the United States, it’s likely California or the Pacific Northwest comes to mind.

But, experts warn a system of faults making up a ‘brittle grid’ beneath New York City could also be loading up for a massive temblor.

The city has been hit by major quakes in the past, along what’s thought to be roughly 150-year intervals, and researchers investigating these faults now say the region could be overdue for the next event.

Experts warn a system of faults making up a ‘brittle grid’ beneath New York City could also be loading up for a massive temblor. The city has been hit by major quakes in the past, along what’s thought to be roughly 150-year intervals. A stock image is pictured


On August 10, 1884, New York was struck by a magnitude 5.5 earthquake with an epicentre located in Brooklyn.

While there was little damage and few injuries reported, anecdotal accounts of the event reveal the frightening effects of the quake.

One newspaper even reported that it caused someone to die from fright.

According to a New York Times report following the quake, massive buildings, including the Post Office swayed back and forth.

And, police said they felt the Brooklyn Bridge swaying ‘as if struck by a hurricane,’ according to an adaptation of Kathryn Miles’ book Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake.

The rumbles were felt across a 70,000-square-mile area, causing broken windows and cracked walls as far as Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

The city hasn’t experienced an earthquake this strong since.

According to geologist Dr Charles Merguerian, who has walked the entirety of Manhattan to assess its seismicity, there are a slew of faults running through New York, reports author Kathryn Miles in an adaptation of her new book Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake.

One such fault passes through 125th street, otherwise known as the Manhattanville Fault.

While there have been smaller quakes in New York’s recent past, including a magnitude 2.6 that struck in October 2001, it’s been decades since the last major tremor of M 5 or more.

And, most worryingly, the expert says there’s no way to predict exactly when a quake will strike.

‘That’s a question you really can’t answer,’ Merguerian has explained in the past.

‘All we can do is look at the record, and the record is that there was a relatively large earthquake here in the city in 1737, and in 1884, and that periodicity is about 150 year heat cycle.

‘So you have 1737, 1884, 20- and, we’re getting there. But statistics can lie.

‘An earthquake could happen any day, or it couldn’t happen for 100 years, and you just don’t know, there’s no way to predict.’

Compared the other parts of the United States, the risk of an earthquake in New York may not seem as pressing.

But, experts explain that a quake could happen anywhere.

According to geologist Dr Charles Merguerian, there are a slew of faults running through NY. One is the Ramapo Fault

‘All states have some potential for damaging earthquake shaking,’ according to the US Geological Survey.

‘Hazard is especially high along the west coast but also in the intermountain west, and in parts of the central and eastern US.’

A recent assessment by the USGS determined that the earthquake hazard along the East Coast may previously have been underestimated.

‘The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments,’ the USGS report explained.

The experts point to a recent example – the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that hit Virginia in 2011, which was among the largest to occur on the east coast in the last century.

This event suggests the area could be subjected to even larger earthquakes, even raising the risk for Charleston, SC.

It also indicates that New York City may be at higher risk than once thought.

A recent assessment by the USGS determined that the earthquake hazard along the East Coast may previously have been underestimated. The varying risks around the US can be seen above, with New York City in the mid-range (yellow).