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Killer Qualities of Japanese Fault Revealed

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the can't-blame-the-kaiju-anymore dept.

Earth 58

Lasrick sends this report from Nature News: "The devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan shocked researchers who did not expect that the seismic fault involved could release so much energy. Now the world's deepest-drilling oceanographic ship has been able to pin down the odd geology that made this disaster so horrific. The fault turns out to be unusually thin and weak, the researchers report in Science this week1–3. The results will help to pin down whether other offshore faults around the world are capable of triggering the same scale of disaster. ... The coring revealed a very thin clay layer, about 5 meters thick, separating the two sliding tectonic plates (abstract). 'That’s just weird,' says Emily Brodsky of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), who is an author on all three Science papers this week. 'Usually it’s tens of meters or more.' Lab tests confirmed that this wet clay layer is extremely slippery, and gets even more so under stress (abstract). As sliding creates friction and heat, water in the clay gets pressurized and pushes up against the impermeable rock around it. That 'jacks open the fault” says Brodsky, allowing it to slip even more. The temperature sensors found that more than a year after the quake, the fault was still up to 0.31 C warmer than its surroundings (abstract). From this they could extrapolate how much heat was generated from friction during the sliding event. Their calculations confirmed the very low friction of the 5-meter-thick clay layer."

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58 comments

All part of His devine plan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628693)

At least they died doing what they loved!

It clearly isn't "just weird", statistically. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628705)

How in the fuck can it be claimed that it's "just weird"? That's bullshit. This isn't "weird".

Statistically, five meters really isn't much different from ten meters, or twenty meters, or even thirty meters. It's only when you get to about 80 meters or so that we see a statistically-significant deviation from the standard probability distributions.

If anything in this situation is "just weird", I'd have to say that it's the Japanese style of animation, and its content. Low-quality animation depicting tentacle molestation is truly "just weird" and it is also severely abnormal, from a statistical perspective.

Re:It clearly isn't "just weird", statistically. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629921)

How in the fuck can it be claimed that it's "just weird"? That's bullshit. This isn't "weird".

According TFA Emily is a UCSC Banana Slug. Perhaps banana slugs know a little weird when they see it.

I'll take weird over you any day of the week, you flabby troll.

Re:It clearly isn't "just weird", statistically. (2)

poopdeville (841677) | about 5 months ago | (#45630411)

Statistically, five meters really isn't much different from ten meters, or twenty meters, or even thirty meters. It's only when you get to about 80 meters or so that we see a statistically-significant deviation from the standard probability distributions.

And you know this because you have the distribution of thicknesses and computed the standard deviation. Right?

Otherwise, you just pulled 80m out of your ass. That must have hurt.

Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (4, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 5 months ago | (#45628711)

The first couple times I saw the title I thought it said "Killer Qualities of Japanese Fruit Revealed". Granted, that also could have been really interesting.

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628741)

I don't mean to offend you, but how did you misread it like that? "fruit" and "fault" clearly look very, very different. Do you have a medical disorder (possibly undiagnosed?) that renders you incapable of reading properly? If you do, I apologize for possibly offending you. But if you don't, or at the very least don't think you do, maybe you should go visit a physician just to be sure. It's probably best to catch any sort of a cognitive problem early on, in case it is something severe.

Your friend,
Jakob

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628849)

Clearly you are someone who has never played fruit ninja.

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628899)

i misread the same way too. it takes you way too long write something very simple "hello, i am a dickface with no soul and i shall throw the first stone"

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45630731)

No they look surprisingly similar unless you have set your system font to Comic Sans.

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628921)

Oh, wow. I misread it the EXACT same way. And once I started reading the summary - and it had nothing to do with fruit - I went back and read the headline again and couldn't, for the life of me, understand how the hell I managed to misread it. I figured it would only be me. Glad to see someone else had the same thing happen...

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629195)

Stupid faggot.

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (1)

Behrooz Amoozad (2831361) | about 5 months ago | (#45629335)

Thats why I think before choosing a font.
"LModern Caps" for example, never let me down to be trolled like that.

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 5 months ago | (#45629393)

I just misread it as "Killer Qualities of Japanese" as in the Japanese people, those innate math/programming genii with black belts in all known martial arts, including bondage and bukkake.

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629801)

I can accept your claim that bukkake is an art, but how is it martial?

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#45629975)

let me get this straight, you don't think there is japanese porn of soldier women getting bukkake, or of soldiers giving a woman bukkake? you don't know much about Japanese porn, do you? if it can be conceived by anyone's mind, there is a genre of Japanese porn for it.

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631949)

I think it is a misspelling of *marital art*.

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629517)

Here you go, Japanese university suggesting a mechanism by which Durian could kill you:

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/food/2009/09/death-by-durian-fruit/

And another mechanism, same fruit (end of paragraph 2 below):

http://gowiththeebb.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/death-by-durian/

When I'm tired and try to read, sometimes words that aren't there enter the sentences. I occasionally catch it, thinking, "wait... it cannot possibly be saying that..."

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629829)

just be sure the fruit uses a condom properly and you'll be fine

Re:Oh... FAULT... that makes more sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45630593)

The first couple times I saw the title I thought it said "Killer Qualities of Japanese Fruit Revealed". Granted, that also could have been really interesting.

I actually read it as some Japanese people (like the government or TEPCO) screwed up and potentially killed a bunch of people. I'm very pleased to hear that that didn't happen.... oh wait

So can we stop it? (4, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 months ago | (#45628743)

Perhaps by drilling millions of holes; and driving millions of rods of steel rebar into the clay, to reinforce the fault line.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 5 months ago | (#45628769)

Uh, what? Plate tectonics can push Mt. Everest to 29000 feet, and we are going to fix it with concrete and rebar?

Re:So can we stop it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629087)

yes.

captcha: alpine

Re:So can we stop it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629199)

Well, we're going to build a launch loop and a Space Elevator soon. I believe hard drives and computers got better, therefore anything is possible.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 months ago | (#45629809)

Plate tectonics can push Mt. Everest to 29000 feet, and we are going to fix it with concrete and rebar?

Plate tectonics can do that, but over hundreds of millions of years -- not overnight.

The idea isn't to stop plate tectonics.... it's to delay the sliding a couple hundred years :)

Re:So can we stop it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45631133)

That's a real bright idea.
Let that spring wind up even more before it lets loose. It'll be a good time for everyone involved.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

GNious (953874) | about 5 months ago | (#45631487)

Yeah, let's make it build up more pressure before release - that'll work juuuuust fine! :)

Note: Please don't do this anywhere near where I live, go on vacation or work.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 months ago | (#45634427)

Yeah, let's make it build up more pressure before release - that'll work juuuuust fine! :)

In 100 years or so, there will probably be even better technology available to more effectively add friction to the fault line, or transfer the kinetic energy from the release, so the fault begins to form in some safer place.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 4 months ago | (#45636137)

In 100 years or so, there will probably be even better technology available to more effectively add friction to the fault line, or transfer the kinetic energy from the release, so the fault begins to form in some safer place.

Or it'll form in some less safe place. Or somewhere no better and no worse (but without the century-worth of investment.

In fact, your scheme wouldn't work. The stress would just move up to the top (or bottom) of your re-bar reinforced layer and start slipping there. You'd have to chill (to strengthen) the whole lithosphere to a depth of tens of kilometres and up to the surface ; then drill your re-bar all the way through.

And then the fault would start to develop either seawards or landwards of the section that you've locked. Big progress. Not.

The long (and short) of the matter is that the stresses are approaching the strength of the rock. And unless you're going to replace the top 10-or-so kilometres of the surface of the Pacific plate with unobtanium, then that's the way things are going to remain.

There are some things that we can't fix. We have to live with them.

What's next on your agenda for repairing? The steady brightening of the Sun due to accumulation of helium in the core?

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 months ago | (#45636647)

And then the fault would start to develop either seawards or landwards of the section that you've locked. Big progress. Not.

Sure... after thousands of years.

What's next on your agenda for repairing? The steady brightening of the Sun due to accumulation of helium in the core?

OK..... orbit massive translucent film around earth; completely enclosing upper atmosphere in "transitions" lenses sunglasses material, that darken as the sun brightens.

Re: So can we stop it? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 4 months ago | (#45663099)

That would deal with the visible light. Which is not the problem : the problem is IR radiation.

Also, where are you going to get the gigatonnes of carbon for your film? Strip mine the organic matter of the planet which you are trying to keep habitable for organic beings?

I know that you're being facetious, but both schemes are similarly silly.

Re:So can we stop it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45631457)

Did you calculate it could not be done, or speculate? I can push Mt. Everest to 29001 feet, friction aside. So the math is about slope and friction and not about weight.

Re:So can we stop it? (2)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#45632227)

Uh, what? Plate tectonics can push Mt. Everest to 29000 feet, and we are going to fix it with concrete and rebar?

People have no concept of orders of magnitude anymore. This is a few 1000....000 times harder than the human race can manage.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

fred911 (83970) | about 5 months ago | (#45628785)

There's a joke here using the words "Fault Tolerant"... just slips me.

Re:So can we stop it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629589)

"Fault Tolerant" is the joke. I laughed!

Yeah, that'll fix it, for sure. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628793)

Yeah, that'll totally prevent any further earthquakes, for sure. After all, it's a fault line that's only 1250 km long. It's merely 230 billion tonnes of rock in one of the smallest Pacific plates pushing against the Siberio-Eurasian plate that's estimated to weigh upward of 7.4 trillion tonnes. We're only talking about roughly 25 billion Joules of energy involved during minor seismic events, and upwards of 150 billion Joules during more severe quakes. And the fault line is only under 14 km of water, where even sending down the most basic of probes and drilling apparatus is extremely difficult and costly (like the article makes blatantly obvious, had you bothered to read it).

What you say is totally plausible and economically feasible. I would be very surprised if they don't do exactly what you propose, and have it fixed up within maybe 6 to 8 months. Some rebar and concrete is clearly the solution. Clearly.

Re:So can we stop it? (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 months ago | (#45628877)

Japan seems to have made most of their buildings pretty earthquake safe already. Fixing the earth seems like a less efficient step even assuming we were sure we weren't going to make it worse. Japan regularly experiences and ignores earthquakes which would cause a lot of damage elsewhere.

That's not to say we should discount any possibility of fixing the plates to suit us. California for example has been taking some cues from Japan in earthquake proofing, but hasn't done nearly as much, and will be facing a much bigger earthquake at some point. There are probably a lot of other faults around the world where people and governments have been less effective at making sure people building take into account the quakes. Japan could probably save a lot of lives and money by investing in the research you're suggesting.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 5 months ago | (#45629267)

Don't forget that they also design their cities with firebreaks in mind, entire sections of cities are designed to stop fires from running wild throughout even with the collapse of buildings and NG ruptures. It's not fool proof but if you only lose 1/10 of a city to fire instead of the entire thing because you can't get emergency services rolling, or a lack of water it sure does help. Wish I could find the articles on it from a few years ago, very interesting, I'm pretty sure Natgo has also done a few shows on it.

Re:So can we stop it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628881)

keep it going asshats just railing this guy for simply having an idea.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 5 months ago | (#45629253)

Sure, provide me with a few billions and I will the job.
Worried about being scammed? I WILL guarantee no 9.0 Earthquakes along that fault for the next 100 years.

I am so confident of my product that I will even throw in the 100_years/8.5 warranty if you buy now with your credit card!

Re:So can we stop it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629599)

Sure, provide me with a few billions and I will the job. Worried about being scammed? I WILL guarantee no 9.0 Earthquakes along that fault for the next 100 years.

Only if you're willing to have the funds in escrow for 100 years, until the guarantee expires. Any earthquake over 5.9, then 4% refund, for every tenth of a point on the richter scale above 5.9 of the most severe earthquake occuring.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 5 months ago | (#45629655)

Escrow? I'm sure AIG will charge me a tiny premium for the insurance, given how unlikely the event is ... once I do the job of course!

So can we blow it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629533)

That would never work.

But placing explosives or some sort of nuclear devices in at regular intervals to release stress might work.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#45629983)

most theoretical studies I've seen of artificially tampering with fault zones to make them safe have ways to constantly release pressure, rather than letting it build up.

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 5 months ago | (#45630297)

As if we need another reason for Japan to keep its heavy water out of the ocean...

Re:So can we stop it? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 months ago | (#45641683)

that's not a concern.

heavy water is not even radioactive, in concentrations of thousandth or less it has no observable effects. the concentration in a plant or animal becomes high, several percent and up, it does start interfering with enzymes and cell division. but those studies that poison creatures had to use tens (not tenths) of percent

Misreading titles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628897)

I didn't read Japanese Fruit,nontheless, I thought we were talking about the Japanese fault of the nuclear plant,interesting article though

Questionable Science (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45628955)

They're using temperature a year after the fact to draw conclusions on energy release and fault thickness? Good grief.
If that weren't already absurd, the whole area is subject to huge temperature variations from unstable volcanic activity.
Southwest of Japan a new island is sprouting up!

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-underwater-volcano-new-island-japan-20131121,0,838965.story [latimes.com]

Re:Questionable Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629111)

What is the thermal time constant of a tectonic plate? Surely someone of your renown in geologic circles must have that basic information on hand?

Re:Questionable Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629565)

There is no fixed answer to that. The density isn't uniform, the thickness isn't uniform, the thermal conductivity isn't uniform, the surface roughness and flow rates of currents past the surface aren't uniform.

It's nice to come up with models, but one has to be cautious of the output when it involves making many assumptions.

Some fluctuations in volcanic activity can be expected from variations in geomagnetic activity.
The effects of some variations propagate more quickly than previously believed.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-volcano-mantle-magma-highway-to-hell-20130801,0,1351433.story [latimes.com]

Cows Grazing In The Pasture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629183)

Coastal communities did not have an adequate evac or preparation or post disaster plan. All they had were political cosmetics.

Nuclear facilities did not have an adequate evac or preparation or post disaster plan. All they had were political cosmetics.

A delta in T of 0.31 C has no practical value even if the P-value is 0.01 (it is significantly meaningless); just another political cosmetic.

Japanese women call men like the above, "Herbivores."

Re:Cows Grazing In The Pasture (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#45632243)

Not all. Some actually were a bit smarter and there is this one small village that had flood gates high enough because the Major looked at historic flood markers, and then pushed through what was actually needed. This just means that people in general are stupid and blind and only see what they want to see. The few exceptions demonstrate that the facts are actually there, but are getting ignored. However I see no indication that Japanese women are smarter then the "Herbivores". In fact, they seem to fit right in.

HAARP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629239)

Extremely low radio frequencies pulsed from a dipole array of antennae and bounced off the ionosphere from GOD knows where hit that country and mark my words, someone will pay big time.

So, basically, the fault was fracked...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45629999)

...water in the clay gets pressurized and pushes up against the impermeable rock around it. That 'jacks open the fault” says Brodsky, allowing it to slip even more....

That spells fracking in my book. And we already know that fracking causes earthquakes and pollutes drinking water. Now we know that it pollutes sea water as well, and causes nuclear reactors to explode. Wind Turbines would never do this...

Temperature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45630641)

So the clay is 0.31 C hotter than the surroundings. They state that this is due to friction during the earthquake a year before it was measured. How do we know that the clay wasn't heated by some other source in the meantime? For starters the region is very volcanically active. They might have hit an undetected hot spring or some other heat source from deep below. Also if the fault continues to move, wouldn't it cause friction in the meantime, which would heat up the clay?

Besides wouldn't drilling into the clay heat it more than just 0.31 C?

Another thing. If they measured this a year after the earthquake, then they would have measured it around marts 2012. Those measurements aren't really what I would call brand new. I know they had to examine their measurements, but great speed doesn't appear to apply to getting this result.

Re:Temperature (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#45632249)

Geologists are typically extremely competent fellows with no political agenda. The field is just too slow and usually non-spectacular for that. I suggest you read the articles instead of calling them incompetent, however indirectly you are doing it.

As to speed, do you know how long the review process in a reputable Journal can take? The delay is just average here.

Greasing the Skids vs. storing Tectonic stress (1)

bbsalem (2784853) | about 4 months ago | (#45645221)

Most of the info is in the Nature article, the paper, though probably funded by the taxpayes, is securely behind the AAAS paywall. Maybe Congress, if it had any balls, would make it illegal to publish publically funded research behind a paywall, but I digress.

The message here seems to be that there were really two geologic events on the subduction zone of Japan's northern coast in March 2011. The first was an an ordinary subduction quake at modest depth in the plane of the Benioff Zone, a thrust event, but that was followed by a seconary event at shallower depth which involved as much as 50 meters of thrust that triggered the huge 30 m. tsamani. This latter event was triggered by the primary subduction quake in a regime that released stress in the plate by allowing for a large amount of slippage in a relatively weak medium, not storing tectonic strain by reacting to its release elsewhere.

The analogy with the San Andreas Fault in Central California is that there are incompetant rock allowing for a relatively large ammount of slippage, some of it aseismic, between segments of the fault that are stuck because of very strong rocks that store strain for release in large quakes. So serpentines in central California may more easily pas strain along toward places where hard rocks like grainites are storing the stress to be released all at once, to the north and south of the central segment of the fault/

The difference is that the release of strain at one place in the subduction zone caused even greater slip in an incompetant boundary seaward of the initial tectonic release. In California we ger fault creep, but it is not enough to release all the strain, nor does it happen in one great event. Nor does muddy subduction even always result in seismic activity. The Mariannas Trench is aseismic probably because the subduction zone is greased and not storing strain enough to result in quakes, and there are mud volcanoes in that area as well, serpentine mud has been found there.

The abstract for the paper called the grease in the Japan subduction zone "Plagic Clay". All that means is that the mud comes from clay minerals that settle out of the water column. They could have been terrigenous, sediments from land ultimately, that got carried as far as they can get, or meteoric. The "Grease" in California and in the Mariannas Trench is different. It is from a slippery mineral that forms from the reaction of water with minerals very rich in Fe, Mg and less Si, like Olivine. The Pelagic mud may not be slippy enough to release all the strain like the Marianas serpentine mud, but it may need a nudge to move, and then ti might move a great deal all at once. 50 m. is a lot.

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