The opinions expressed here are well-reasoned and insightful -- needless to say they are not the opinions of my employers

20 October 2009

GSA -- Tuesday October 20

About 15 years ago at AGU, a friend agreed to present a poster for an acquaintance who could not get a flight to San Francisco. This was before large format printers, when posters were printed on standard paper and mounted on poster board, when men were men and things we learned in arts and crafts in kindergarten were directly applicable to grad school.

My friend's friend e-mailed the text of the poster, minus figures, and he dutifully printed it out at the last minute, cut off the unix headers, and tacked the pages to the board. As I recall, the science was pretty good, but it was the saddest little poster I'd ever seen in my life... until today...

Seriously though, Ron is advocating that we help/encourage Google to create nothing less than the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. In your ideal version of GE, what geological information would you like to be included in the layers? Field photos, filterable by rock type, structure, etc? links to publications, raw data? The mind boggles...

Lucy Jones gave the noontime lecture, talking about the success of last year's Great Southern California Shake Out. The success was due in part to creating a believable scenario (a M7.8 quake on the southernmost section of the San Andreas fault) focusing the media and public on the probable outcomes within that scenario (deaths, destruction, fires, lack of water, collapse of transportation and communications) and keeping the message simple (store water; have a post-quake plan; drop, cover, and hold on).

We've reached a point in earthquake awareness where the majority of our college students don't have a memory of a strong earthquake. As a culture, we tend to lose focus quickly (look, a UFO! driven by a drunk celebrity!).

The indians of the pacific northwest had a ceremony that amounted to periodically putting people into a basket and shaking them violently to remind them what it felt like -- that's probably not an ideal solution, but people who've lived through a significant quake are the ones who really understand that moment of despair when you realize that all of the things you imagined yourself doing in response are impossible, as it is all you can do to keep yourself under that table as your stuff literally flies across the room. Or when you realize that the one thing you expected you could trust to stay put -- the Earth -- steadfastly refuses to do so...

The Shake Out was a great teaching moment for me, and I still use some of the videos. My favorite is this one, which shows the basin effect -- look how long the shaking persists in Coachella Valley, the LA basin, and Ventura.

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