I'm sure someday I'll eat these words when the Wasatch fault finally moves and I break an arm or my computer gets knocked off a shelf and snaps in half, but for now. I love earthquakes.
Being a Geology major has made me a self-proclaimed expert on the subject that's all the rage the past day or so. Now to be honest, I'm not an expert. If I were to compare geology knowledge to basketball skill, Paul Hoffman (professor at Harvard who came up with the Snowball Earth hypothesis) would be Lebron James and I would be that guy on some moderately good college basketball team who comes off the bench, but still sees pretty good minutes. So by no means an expert - but better than any of you!
Anyway, over the past few months there have been some big earthquakes. There was a 7.1 in the Solomon Islands, that devastating 7.0 in Haiti, a 7.0 in Japan, then a goliath 8.8 in Chile, and a 7.3 in Baja and people start talking about how it means Jesus is coming again and posting on facebook that we need to repent because it's a "sign of the times." I love this. Mostly because there is an average of 18 7.0+ earthquakes per year and between Jan 1 and Apr 16 there have been 5. Spot on with the average! Unfortunately three of these earthquakes have happened close to major population centers, one of which was far from prepared for a large earthquake.
Then today a 4.9 earthquake happened out about 40 miles east of Logan on some crappy Crawford Fault (that I'd not even heard of until today, but I believe it's part of the East Bear Lake Fault Zone) Well I've had fun correcting people who think that this earthquake is a precursor to the "big one" that the Wasatch Fault is expecting, being as these fault zones aren't even related. Then I had someone on the X96 facebook page tell me that a 10.0 was coming soon on the Wasatch Fault, okay even if this 4.9 earthquake DID happen on the Wasatch Fault and even if earthquakes were always correlated (which does occasionally happen, but very rarely). Think about it, a 10.0 earthquake? Okay first of all a 10.0 earthquake would make the Haiti earthquake seem like a cell phone on vibrate and they just don't happen (the largest ever was a 9.2) and on top of that I can't even imagine a 9.5+ earthquake happening anywhere in the world, not Alaska, not Chile, not the Himalayas, and certainly not on some random normal fault system in the middle of a continent about 700 miles away from the nearest plate boundary.
Another guy went off on how this meant a 6.8 earthquake would happen in Utah now any time and I was like "whoa dude, if you can predict earthquakes - hook me up with your methods." and he talked about how a 6.8 is the maximum earthquake the WFZ could ever have and that it was going to happen soon. Okay, granted there's not been a large earthquake on the WFZ for like 400 years (and scarier, not one on the Brigham City section in 2400 years) but saying a big one will happen any time now is pretty bold. It could happen tomorrow, sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if nothing happened until well after my lifetime. Then narrowing it down to a 6.8 is pretty bold too. Could it be a 6.8? Sure! Could it be a 7.1 or a 6.3? Sure! Some evidence suggests the WFZ can have earthquakes up to 7.5 (though I'm skeptical about that.) Ah well, confidence is good to have I guess. This guy wasn't too bad, so I'll have to finish with another real moron.
Okay so, in my opinion, conspiracy theorists are among the dumbest people in the world. I read a comment from this one guy who wrote that these earthquakes were all signs that that that made up planet (Niburu?) is getting close enough to effect the earths gravitational field. Okay first of all, why is it that only conspiracy theorists know anything about this alleged planet that is going to collide with Earth in 2012? Then secondly, if it's a dwarf planet, like Pluto or Eris, and it's still two years away how is it possibly causing earthquakes? The moon is 5x the mass of Pluto and it's like ... right there *points at the moon.* Pretty sure the moon just pulls the ocean water around to different places, not entire crustal plates. How does this smaller and farther away Niburu planet do it? I bet the aliens that live there have tractor beams! I think I actually heard that Barack Obama was one of them.. yes.. and the Soviets know about it. I hate conspiracy theorists.
I still have to say that my favorites are the prophesiers of doom though. Yes, a 4.9 earthquake happened in Utah, better roll out the red carpet for Jesus! Don't take into account that 13,000 4.1-5.0 earthquakes happen per year and we do live in one of the more seismically active 48 states. This epic 4.9er in Randolph is a sign. We're totally experiencing the end of the world. Idiots. I wonder what these people would be like if they lived in L.A. and had frequent earthquakes that shook your pots and pans around (or knocked various freeway overpasses down). I guess Jesus would come about as often as birthdays. That would be kinda cool, I bet he'd bring awesome presents.
I was kind of disappointed that I didn't even feel the local earthquake today though. Ironically enough I was playing frisbee with some other geology students and none of us felt it. First earthquake I've really had a good opportunity to feel since the 7.3 Landers earthquake in 1992 and I missed it, lame. Well I guess there was the Big Bear quake like 2 hours later, but whatever, same day.