A volcano in California is a hot spot for conspiracy theorists.
- Unusual UFO-shaped formations were observed in the skies over Mount Shasta.
- These were actually lenticular clouds that often look like lenses or flying saucers.
- This volcano peak in California has long been the subject of conspiracy theories.
Mount Shasta in California has become a nexus of conspiracy theories and unusual events. The latest viral sensation from the area has been a UFO-shaped object that appeared in the skies above the potentially active volcano peak of 14,179 feet on the morning of February 12th.
Upon closer look, this was not an alien spaceship but a beautiful lenticular cloud, the kind that is often shaped like lentils or UFOs, depending on your perspective. It was so convincing, however, that the U.S. Forest Service had to deny its extraterrestrial origins in a statement.
The flying saucer or lens shape of these clouds is caused by their development along the downwind sides of mountains. When moist and stable air goes over a mountain, oscillating waves are created. The crest of the waves causes condensation of vapor, which evaporates through the troughs, explains Weather Underground. These evaporations take the form of lenses and spaceships, looking layered.
Mount Shasta, in particular, has seen its share of lenticular cloud sightings, leading to its status as a new focal point for alien hunters much like Roswell, New Mexico. The latest UFO cloud quickly became a social media sensation, as you can see in these posts of the enigmatic formations:
View this post on InstagramAlien Sunrise #lenticularclouds #mountains #mountainviews #coolclouds #mtshasta #siskiyoucounty #siskiyou #discoversiskiyou #lenticular #whatsthiscloud
A post shared by Roxanne Coonrod (@roadshotsphotography) on Feb 12, 2020 at 12:43pm PST
View this post on Instagram#lenticularcloud#mtshasta#juniperrose#shasta#sunrise#lenticular#mushroomcloud
A post shared by Juniper Rose (@juniperroseairbnb) on Feb 12, 2020 at 7:06am PST
Mount Shasta has also seen other unusual happenings, with a mysterious side hole that appeared over 10 years ago becoming the subject of a documentary. Its sudden emergence connected with local legends about a lost continent of Lemuria supposedly hidden under the mountain. This mythical kingdom would be there along with its capital city Telos.
The first thought of the documentary filmmaker Elijah Sullivan about the giant hole was that it was from people trying to find Lemuria.
"You'll hear a lot of people talking about Lemuria, maybe even asking for directions," he told the news in 2018. "People make pilgrimages here — it's like a New Age mecca."
In 1987, the area was home to a New Age conference dubbed a "spiritual Woodstock".
It is also known to be sacred to the Native American Winnemem Wintu tribe, indigenous to this area.
If you're in the mood to check out the stunning area for yourself and see some aliens in the skies above, you can come to the nearby town of McCloud for the "Meet the Venusians — We Are in Contact" conference from August 25-30 of this year. It promises to be a "tribute to honor of all the Venusians & Pleiadean's who have taken the time to present themselves" with a schedule of speakers and events focused on healing and consciousness.
Minnesota earned its 'blue mark' in the 1975 Morris earthquake, which had its epicenter in the western part of the state.
- Californians, want to run away from the Big One? Head for Minnesota.
- As this map shows, the Gopher State is the least likely to be hit by earthquakes.
- Choose your new home wisely, though: even Minnesota has one earthquake-sensitive spot.
Not if, but when
The Long Beach earthquake hit on 10 March 1933 with an estimated magnitude of 6.25 on the Richter scale.
Image: Nathan Callahan, CC BY 2.0
It's not if, but when: Californians live with the certainty that someday, the Big One will hit.
The Big One is an earthquake with a magnitude of at least 7.8 on the Richter scale. Because of the plate tectonics at work under California, big quakes like that hit the area every 45 to 230 years.
The last one was more than 160 years ago. That's why paleoseismologist Kerry Sieh says the next one is likely to happen "within the lifetime of children in primary school today."
Here's how the United States Geological Survey (USGS) rates the hazard of a major earthquake in California in the next 30 years:
- 60% chance of a 6.7-magnitude quake.
- 46% chance of a 7.0-magnitude quake.
- 31% chance of a 7.5-magnitude quake.
The earthquake hazard map of the United States.
Image: USGS, public domain
The Pacific coast is purple: the highest hazard. The entire west is shaded in colors denoting declining hazard. Only relatively small parts of the country are covered by the zone of lowest hazard:
- central and southern Texas;
- most of Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North Dakota;
- sizable chunks of Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, and South Dakota;
- and tiny bits of Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia.
One state seems hazard-free, but that's only until you notice the blue spot in Minnesota's western bulge.
So, what do these colors actually denote? Earthquake hazard maps show the potential shaking hazard from future earthquakes.
The USGS defines earthquake hazard as the probability of ground motion over 50 years. That probability is determined by a region's geology and earthquake history.
The location of fault lines alone is not enough to determine quake hazard: a large earthquake can produce tremors at a relatively large distance from the actual fault line.
The colors on this earthquake hazard map correspond to Seismic Design Categories (SDCs), which reflect the likelihood of seismic activity leading to ground motion of various intensities.
Damage caused by the 6.0-magnitude Napa County earthquake of 24 August 2014.
Image: Matthew Keys, CC BY-SA 4.0
These SDCs are used to determine the level of seismic resistance required in building design and building codes.
- SDC level A (grey): Very small probability of experiencing damaging earthquake effects.
- SDC level B (blue): Moderate-intensity shaking possible. Such shaking will be felt by all. Many will be frightened. Some furniture will be moved and some plaster will fall. Overall damage will be slight.
- SDC level C (green): Strong shaking possible. Damage will be negligible in well-designed and well-constructed buildings; considerable in poorly-built structures.
- SDC levels D0 (yellow), D1 (orange) and D2 (red): Very strong shaking possible. Damage will be slight in specially designed structures; considerable in ordinary substantial buildings, with partial collapse; and great in poorly built structures.
- SDC level E (purple): This is near major active faults capable of producing the most intense shaking. Even in specially designed structures, the damage will be considerable. The shaking is intense enough to completely destroy buildings.
The Morris quake
Minnesota earned its blue spot in 1975.
Image: USGS, public domain
This earthquake hazard map is not a snapshot of the past, but an evolving prediction of the future. The map is adapted as geological knowledge increases. But it is also partly based on past events – or more precisely the likelihood of their recurrence.
Minnesota earned its blue spot from the 1975 Morris earthquake. With its epicenter in Stevens County, it struck at around 10 am on July 9th of that year and had a magnitude of 4.6. It was the first seismic event recorded in the state since the Staples quake of 1917, and it was felt as far afield as the eastern Dakotas and northern Iowa.
Near the epicenter, plaster cracked and pictures fell off walls. In the town of Morris, two homes suffered damage to their foundations. Not quite California-sized, but for lack of comparison, probably Big Enough for the locals.
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Scientists discover how to predict megaquakes earlier to improve warning systems.
- Earthquakes of 7+ magnitude share a particular pattern, find seismologists.
- The pored over data of over 3,000 earthquakes to spot a "slip pulse".
- The scientists advocate using real-time GPS sensor data in early warning systems.
As the 2019 California earthquakes remind us, these natural events can be quite nerve-racking and dangerous. Potential for terrible destruction is always just a tremor away. That's probably the worst thing about earthquakes – they come out of nowhere and cause the most mayhem simply because of their sheer suddenness. Predicting earthquakes would save lives and property, and a recent study hopes to accomplish just that.
Seismologists Diego Melgar and his colleague Gavin P. Hayes were at first looking for databases to simulate the magnitude 9+ Cascadia megaquake of 1700. But they ended up discovering a very peculiar pattern. They employed data collections of earthquakes going back to the early 1990s and their background in geophysics to spot a specific moment, happening 10-15 seconds into an earthquake event. That moment, derived from GPS data, can indicate a quake of magnitude 7 or larger.
The scientists used GPS information, in particular, because it caught even the smallest initial movements along a fault, showing the strongest acceleration of ground movement. The seismologists identified a pattern in the data called "a slip pulse" that happened during the transition period, when displacement between two plates was taking place. The top rate of that displacement predicted if the quake would be small or go mega, found the researchers.
How did they know they were on the right track? The scientists performed physics-heavy analysis of numerous databases of 3,000+ earthquakes to confirm their methodology. They correctly picked out all 12 quakes of 7+ magnitude from the early 1990s till now in two U.S. Geological Survey databases. They also hit upon the same pattern in European and Chinese databases, reports a University of Oregon press release.
"It was super exciting," shared Melgar. "As Gavin and I pored through the data for what were really unrelated reasons, we began to see these trends. We had a bit of a eureka moment where we, well, if what we're seeing is true, it means something about how earthquakes start."
Vehicles driving over a crack on Highway 178, near Trona. This follows a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Ridgecrest, California on July 4, 2019.
Credit: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images
The scientists think their research can lead to a greater amount of GPS stations to improve early warning system, especially ShakeAlert, along the West Coast. The sensors can be placed on the seafloor to counter the delay in relaying valuable quake information.
"We can do a lot with GPS stations on land along the coasts of Oregon and Washington, but it comes with a delay," Melgar explained. "As an earthquake starts, it would take some time for information about the motion of the fault to reach coastal stations. That delay would impact when a warning could be issued. People on the coast would get no warning because they are in a blind zone."
Melgar's previous work on real-time GPS data found it could give an extra 20 minutes of warning in cases of tsunamis.
Read their study in Science Advances.