Helping humankind live with the earth not against it

Category: tsunamis

Borealis Meditation – S05E01 Hunga Volcano Tonga

Welcome back to Borealis Meditation and welcome to season 5! You can listen to the episode here:

Transcript Available here: (work in progress check back soon)

In this episode we talk about the eruption in Tonga on Jan. 15th of Hunga volcano. This eruption was spectacular and in this episode I go over the eruption but also some context in terms of how we monitor volcanoes and tsunami early warning systems.

I have some extra reading for this episode I will put at the end of this post. Also I am working on having transcripts for all my episodes this season. They may take a little time to come out and will definitely be a learning curve but I am working on making my content more accessible.

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Further reading:
NASA post on the eruption: HERE
Global Volcanism Program page for the volcano: HERE (You can read weekly updates on each volcano that has activity)
NOAA Post on this eruption and the future of tsunami research: HERE
An update on the undersea cable situation: HERE

3-11 the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami – 10 years later

10 years ago a M9 rocked Japan. At that point I felt like the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami was going to my “big one”. I remember going to a meeting at school where everyone brought all the data they had run. I remember being in awe of how many buildings were able to stand up to the shaking of the earthquake. I remember my Mom calling to tell me to not be excited.

But also I remember talking about it on episode 11. I find it hard to listen to myself from that long ago so instead I wanted to tell you what I have learned in the 10 years since this event. (My archive can be found here)

We CAN build for large earthquakes. This was my biggest lesson. After Haiti in 2010 which was a M7 it was a big lesson for me. The different between a M7 and M9 is 100 times larger and 1000 times stronger. After Tohoku my advisor said something that stuck with me “earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings kill people” and we saw this play out again in L’Aquila.

Early Warning systems and community education is important. Japan has invested in its early warning system. It has phone alerts, sirens and the most amazing geophysical network of sensors. That combined with the education of the population lead to video after video of people safely evacuating by going up in buildings or on hills. The US STILL doesn’t have even close to what Japan has.

Some misinformation just sticks around. This fucking map is the god damn tsunami model and not a fucking “radiation from Fukushima” map. I will slap you if you. Period. Your seafood in the eastern Pacific is FINE.

This is a model of tsunami wave height in the Pacific produced for the 3-11 Tohoku 2011 earthquake. THIS IS NOT A MAP OF “RADIATION” if you share this map as “radiation” you are dead to me. I am so sick of seeing it!

The videos continue to fascinate me. Last year my husband and I discovered a trove of videos of the tsunami and couldn’t stop watching them. We “know” what tsunami waves look like and how they work but watching them in action was something else entirely.

Information travels faster than waves of any kind. The information wave about the earthquake and tsunami traveled faster than any of the physical waves. Enough so that several colleagues were able to set up extra sensors in order to capture it around the globe.

Know your hazards! If you live on the coast and you feel strong shaking that lasts for more than a few seconds evacuate up hill. Be safe.

Here are some of the videos (to the best of my memory these don’t contain the images of any victims however they may be upsetting to watch):

This video shows the progression as the wave comes inland from something “I could totally walk through” to buildings being ripped up. Tsunami waves are not regular waves. Evacuate.
This video shows how the walls being designed for a smaller event were so close and yet so far from being able to hold the water back.
This video shows just how long the intense shaking is for these “Great” earthquakes. Incredible footage

Borealis Meditation S04E02 Palu Earthquake and Tsunami

Well, we have our first event episode! This episode covers the earthquake and tsunami on September 28, 2018 that hit Palu Indonesia

Listen here:

I have lots and lots of additional information for this one.

Where: Sulawesi Island, 78km N of Palu city in Indonesia
When: Friday September 28, 2018 10:02 UTC
How Big: M 7.8
How Deep: 10.0 km depth

(figure from the second article listed)

USGS Event Page


Here is why earthquake magnitude is not what you think it is

Palu 2018 science and surprise behind the earthquake and tsunami

IRIS teachable moments slides

First hand account of the Ferry boat
Video from another boat

Video from the parking structure



animation of before and after satellite images of the area of liquefaction


(music used in this episode is podsafe and is Oceanis by David Miles Huber)

Borealis Meditation – Episode 7: Tsunamis, Volcanoes and Magnetite!

Episode 7: Tsunamis, Volcanoes and Magnetite!

Sorry about the chair creaking! oops…
Indonesia Tsunami and volcanic eruption
Map: the area we are talking about, the blue marker to the east is Merapi
and maker to the west is the earthquake location

Warning Systems Often Don’t Help Tsunami Victims

More Merapi info:

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