Orvis ®

icon icon

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Isostatic Rebound: Earthquake & Volcano Activity

Merapi Volcano Eruption.  Photograph Courtesy AFP.

For some time now I have tracked earthquake and volcano activity in this Climate Change portion of my blog. I do this because NASA data suggests that both Greenland and Antarctica are "moving" (known as isostatic rebound) as the ice weight melts off of them, and if it is true that one of the largest islands in the world, and THE largest continent start to flex, they will shift tectonic plates worldwide setting off earthquakes and increasing volcanic activity. Clearly, this has just been personal speculation on my part, and part of the beauty of being able to blog.

Now it seems the science community may be taking more notice of this possibility. I await their conclusions, but I am buying earthquake preparedness kits for my whole family now and not expecting the empirical evidence any time soon.

This summer when I was teaching in Jackson Hole, WY, we were rocked by a large swarm of quakes of small quakes (40 or more/4.0 magnitude) at a time when no local I spoke with can ever remember experiencing a quake. On September 26, Nebraska was rattled by a small 3.0+ in an area earthquake activity is considered extremely rare.

Unfortunately, these may just be "awakening" signs. In the winter of 1811-1812, The New Madrid fault zone in SE Missouri produced three of the strongest earthquakes to ever strike the continental U.S. And, more ominously, scientists have discussed for years the danger of the Yellowstone Basin "waking up" because Yellowstone IS an ancient volcano, and a prehistoric Yellowstone produced the largest and most cataclysmic volcanic eruption in the evolution of North America.
If a changing climate triggers these kinds of activities and events, I would like us all to consider the concept of keeping the climate as stable as possible, as soon as possible, please! I don't give a damn about whose fault these changes are, we need to address these changes.
The philosopher, Thomas Huxley, said, "Human existence is a race between intelligence and extinction".
Darwin's theory has also been misstated. He actually said that it is not the smartest, nor the fittest, but those that will adapt the most quickly that will survive.
The race is on. I hope those in the human population that don't think it is, wake up and start running. We need everybody thinking about this, and for human creativity to rise to the occasion and address these changes in our environment or humanity will no longer be a relevant species.
~ Robert Glenn Ketchum
Midway Geyser Basin and the Grand Prismatic Spring, a hot spring located in Yellowstone National Park. Photo credit: Mila Zinkova


  1. Thank you for a very sensible environmental post. I often find myself at odds with many environmentalists who love to play the blame game. The simple fact is something is changing the climate. We know certain things that will definitely help stop and maybe even reverse some of these changes. We can figure out who to blame later. Let's work together to fix the situation now. Also, if I am not mistaken, the idea of "survival of the most fit" goes back to Herbert Spencer and social Darwinism--a business philosophy, not natural selection. Thanks again for a wonderful blog.
    Aubrey Silvertooth

    1. -I think certain politicians want to make it into a "blame game" as you put it, either to attack the policies of the *other* party, or because it is viewed as a threat to their party. However, we *do* need to look beyond the simple identification that "something is changing the climate." Stopping there would be like observing that you have a severed artery, and merely watching as you bleed to death. IF it is truly a natural process, there isn't much that can be done. If, however, it is caused, or influenced by human activity, it is our duty to ensure that future generations aren't left with an trash heap of a planet that they can't live on...


Comment Rules: Constructive criticism is okay, however if you are rude, you will be deleted. Please DO NOT put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials as opposed to a business name, to not be mistaken for spam.

Enjoy and thanks for adding your thoughts!

Orvis Supports No Pebble Mine

icon icon