Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A stormy Pacific

Wendy's been doing a good job blogging about Ketsana (a/k/a Ondoy), the typhoon that caused devastation in the Philippines.

Today Ken is blogging about a tsunami that washed over American Samoa as we slept last night. Western Samoa also got hit. Reports put an earthquake between 7.9 and 8.3 on the Richter Scale-and if I got this right, time would have been about 7 hours ago for the quake, a bit later for the tsunami.

Several people are already reported as dead or missing, and an entire village may be underwater, with more reports of greater damage and loss expected.

There was a Pacific-wide tsunami alert (already cancelled now), but no one I've talked to knew about it. We need a better warning system.

Angelo is tracking Tropical Storm Melor-heading this way.


bigsoxfan said...

Be a fine thing if it was so easy, but predicting Tsnamui is sort of like living near a violent neigbor. Bouys work, but it is a big ocean out there. Best bet if your neighbor is violent, go live somewhere safe, Like the mountains of Japan where locals don't own guns and tsnamumi are unlikely to reach so far. Or Saipan is actually as safe a place as I could imagine to be safe from severe earthquakes, damaging tsnami, and ,depending on who you hang, with dangerous lunatics. Just for the record, I'm in San Diego free from most of the above, except the random lunatic or recently released felon.
I'm checking Ken for the why of the tsnamui, but funneling into a shallow area from a localized release of energy in one direction seems to be the explanation. Wish more of the worlds troubles could be explained so easily, but I certainly wouldn't have expected Samoa to be in the shotgun's mouth and I feel for them.

KAP said...

I've read about storm surges being a problem in Apia Harbor, so a tsunami coming from the right direction would have the same effect. I saw a bit of the aftermath in Crescent City Ca. (which also got a funnel effect) after the Great Alaskan Quake so I was duly impressed by tidal waves at an early age.

I don't know much about the seafloor there... it looks like typical Ring of Fire subduction like, er, Saipan. You would expect the greatest effect to be on continental shelves where the wave(s) can build in shallow water. I'm sure it will be well-studied once they take care of the people affected.

We get earthquakes all of the time on and near Saipan-- that's why I link to the USGS.

bigsoxfan said...

My latest enlightenment. The 'quakes which shake th marianas orient from the ridge which forms the chain. Local quakes radiate their energy perpendicular to the island chain. The energy released from local quakes travels directly away from the islands and the water around the Marianas is so deep that the piling up effect isn't likely to occur. I'm not a geologist, but I've seen a friend of mine play one on TV.