The Accretionary Wedge #2: How the Earth Could Kill You

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TAW#2 was published Oct 15th, 2007 at All of My Faults Are Stress Related. Click here to see the original post with all the comments.

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Civilization exists by geologic consent–subject to change without notice.

Apparently there is some controversy about whether Will Durant ever actually wrote that quote. But that doesn’t really matter to geologists. We know it’s true. Just ask the ammonites, or the residents of Pompeii.

But how, exactly, might the death and destruction occur?

Volcanoes

Well, to start with, there’s always fire.

Chris Rowan at Highly Allochthonous sees warnings for Naples, Italy in“A Tale of Two Volcanoes”.

And on the North American plate, Yami at Green Gabbro takes a not-quite-boiling soak in the hot springs created by the magma of the Long Valley caldera.

And if the volcanoes of recent history are too tame, consider the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. The asteroid impact gets most of the press these days, but Chris (yorrike) at Good Schist points out that the volcanoes of the Deccan Traps did a number on the ammonites first.

Earthquakes

From his perspective above a subduction zone, Miguel at MiGeo explains the dangers of tsunamis, in Chile and Indonesia. (English translation of the post is here.)

And I wasn’t killed by the Loma Prieta earthquake (as you might have guessed), but I was shaken up a bit.

Landslides

And, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the house, Brian reminds us that even fundamental forces of physics, like, for instance, gravity, are dangerous.

Hazards in general

It isn’t just gravity. As Jim Repka at Active Margin points out, we wouldn’t be able to live without disequilibrium. That’s right. Thermodynamics is also out to get us.

And then there are the hazards of field work…

Those of us who live in arid or semi-arid environments know that the sun is not always our friend. Especially at noon in the summer. Lounge of the Lab Lemming has more about deadly evapotranspiration.

And Ron tells of a field assistant with walking pneumonia on the dreaded Mancos Shale, and also warns that the Earth is hungry.

So watch out.

The next edition of The Accretionary Wedge will be on November 15. Kevin Z at The Other 95% will be hosting the carnival, with a theme of “Geology and Life.”

Also, an announcement for any geo-bloggers and lurkers who will be going to the GSA meeting in Denver in a few weeks: there are plans afoot for a geo-blogging meet-up/dinner on Sunday night. Ron has offered to make dinner arrangements. Keep a look out for the final arrangements.

Edit: I’m adding other posts as they come in. So far, Jim Repka has added dire warnings about equilibrium, and Dr. Lemming tells of the dangers of evaporation.

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2 Responses to “The Accretionary Wedge #2: How the Earth Could Kill You”

  1. The Accretionary Wedge #3: Between Rock and a Squishy Face, Geology and Life « The Accretionary Wedge Says:

    […] exists, establishes and persists with geology’s permission. Natural disasters can wreak havoc wiping generations of establishment and millenia of adaptation and diversity. Yet […]

  2. The Accretionary Wedge #9: Significant Geologic Events « The Accretionary Wedge Says:

    […] Living through a major earthquake, particularly if one came close to not making it through, is a scary kind of significant. Kim, of All My Faults Are Stress Related, has every good reason to reprise her Loma Prieta story from Accretionary Wedge #2. […]

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