Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Preliminary damage report of Trinidad, Colorado M5.3 earthquake

The Colorado Geological Survey posted a preliminary damage report on last week's M5.3 earthquake near the town of Trinidad:

At 11:46 PM MDT on August 22, 2011, a Mw 5.3 earthquake was recorded by U.S. Geological Survey seismometers and located the epicenter approximately 9 miles (+/- 7.8 miles) WSW of Trinidad, Colorado. Early reports by local news media indicated that significant damage to buildings had occurred in the towns of Segundo and Valdez, 15 miles west of Trinidad on Colorado State Highway 12. Prior to the Mw 5.3 event, three smaller events were also recorded in the same vicinity, the largest being an Mw 4.6 event at 5:30 PM MDT.

On the morning of August 23rd, the Colorado Geological Survey dispatched geologists to the area to document the damage related to the largest earthquake in Colorado within the last 44 years. Locations with observed structural damage included (from most severe to least): Segundo, Valdez, Cokedale, and Trinidad.
[right, the front of this brick building in Segundo Colorado collapsed, sending debris onto State Highway 12. Note the crushed mailbox. Figure 8 in the report.]

Vermont Geological Survey flood damage from Hurricane Irene

Vermont has been particularly hard-hit with unprecedented flooding caused by the torrential rains associated with Hurricane Irene. The village of Waterbury, home of the Vermont Geological Survey, has been flooded out by the Winooski River. We hear from our colleagues in New England that the VGS staff and their families are all well and most have had power restored to their homes. However, the building that houses the VGS has suffered flood damage, although the full extent of that damage is not known at this time. Staff have been unable to survey the situation due to roads being washed out. [right, Vermont rivers and lakes. Credit, Geology.com]

Monday, August 29, 2011

Prehistoric Life of North Dakota Coloring & Activity Book

A prehistoric life of North Dakota coloring and activity book has recently been published and is now available as Educational Series 32. The cover art and illustrations in the book where done by Becky Gould, Survey paleontologist, and John Hoganson, State Paleontologist, provided the text. The book is arranged in chronological order beginning with marine Paleozoic fossils found in oil well cores and ending with illustrations of animals that lived in North Dakota during the last Ice Age.

The book follows the story line of the Corridor of Time fossil exhibit in the North Dakota Heritage Center and will be consistent with the fossil exhibits planned for the new Geologic Time Exhibit Gallery being constructed as part of the Heritage Center expansion.

Price is $2 from the North Dakota Geological Survey

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reprieve for Louisiana Geological Survey

Louisiana State Geologist Chacko John passed along the good news that at least for the time being, the Survey will not take the major budget cuts that threatened them. Less drastic cuts may be forthcoming mid-fiscal year, but worries that the Survey would be completely phased out are somewhat lessened.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rick Chormann named State Geologist of New Hampshire

We're a little late in announcing that Frederick "Rick" Chormann was appointed State Geologist and Director of the New Hampshire Geological Survey. Rick had been Acting State Geologist following the resignation of David Wunsch, who went to the National Ground Water Association.

Source of Virginia's M5.9 quake

The Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources issued this statement on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake that occurred today, shaking large areas of the Eastern U.S.:

Virginia experienced a widely-felt earthquake at 1:51 p.m. eastern daylight time on Tuesday, August 23, 2011. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the quake was located near Mineral, in Louisa County. With a preliminary magnitude of 5.9, this is the
largest Virginia earthquake in historic times. A few small aftershocks have been reported.

The epicenter falls within the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, a cluster of dozens of earthquakes that have occurred within the past 120 years, centered about halfway between Richmond and Charlottesville. Several known faults are present in the area: the Chopawamsic Fault, the Lakeside Fault, and the Spotsylvania Fault. These are old faults, related to plate tectonic events that closed and then reopened the Atlantic Ocean about 150 million years ago. Even though these faults are quite old and considered to be inactive, occasional earthquakes continue to occur.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Foreign invesment in U.S. natural resources

Colorado State Geologist Vince Matthews is quoted extensively in a feature article in High Country News about foreign investment in western U.S. extractive resources (the article requires paid subscription):

Lately, Matthews has been traveling around the state telling chambers of commerce, groups of geologists, community leaders and just about anyone else who will listen that he's worried.

Sitting in his downtown Denver office, wearing a suit and tie that would look at home on a Houston oil executive, Matthews says that China and India, with their huge populations and economies growing at rates not seen since the Industrial Revolution, are ravenous for natural resources. Handing me graphs and charts to prove it, he says that their hunger is already washing across the West, driving up the pressure to develop natural resources. He talks about a Chinese businesswoman he knows in Denver, who frequently asks him how her relatives and clients can get hold of a Colorado mine or mineral deposit. And he reminisces about a visit to the Los Angeles port at Long Beach, where he saw ship after ship loaded down with scrap metal, headed for China.

Even when these countries aren't directly investing in or buying U.S. resources, their appetite for them around the globe is raising prices and spurring new development here in the West, Matthews says.

[Right, map of foreign investments in extractive resources. Map by the Rural West Initiative, Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University. Credits: Rio Akasaka and Geoff McGhee]

Monday, August 01, 2011

What? No Geological Survey in Louisiana?

The planned shutdown of the Louisiana Geological Survey over the next three years and conversion of the operation into an contract mill, is drawing incredulity and derision from the petroleum industry. An article in the August issue of AAPG Explorer notes that if Louisiana follows through on its plans, the state will be the only one in the continental U.S. without a state geological survey.

The article notes that the Survey has been a driving force for the independent oil and gas industry, which they call the 'backbone' of Louisiana's success in oil and gas exploration.