Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘Earthquake’ Category

The Lombok earthquake destroyed more than 42,000 structures and displaced about 156,000 people


“…..aid had been slow in reaching victims, especially those in far-flung areas.

“There are some refugees who have not received aid,” he said, “especially in remote or isolated areas.”

But….the government had sent out 200 pickup trucks on Wednesday to deliver rice, cooking oil, drinking water and food staples.

In North Lombok, the region hit hardest by the quake, tent camps have sprung up in open fields near ruined villages. Some in the camps said they had received government deliveries of instant noodles and drinking water, but little else.

Increasingly desperate, many displaced villagers have taken to standing in the middle of the area’s main road, seeking donations from passing motorists.

To slow traffic and attract attention, some locals stand in the middle of the road, holding out cardboard boxes for donations or flags and handwritten signs asking for assistance. Some even bring out plastic chairs and sit in the middle of the road with their donation boxes……”


Indonesia earthquake: Lack of equipment and digging by hand

The Guardian

“…..Hospitals were reportedly full and injured people were being treated in car parks and makeshift medical tents. ….”


8/5/1948: A 6.7M earthquake hits Ecuador killing 6,000 people and injuring another 20,000.

History Channel


A 6.9M earthquake struck Lombok on Sunday, killing at least 82 people and shaking neighboring Bali.

ShakeMap Intensity image


M 6.4 – 5km N of Lelongken, Indonesia: At least 14 dead and over 160 injured.

ShakeMap Intensity image

6/21/1990: A 7.7M earthquake near the Caspian Sea in Iran kills more than 50,000 and injures another 135,000 people

History Channel

World History Project

ShakeMap Intensity image

The 5.3M earthquake Osaka during morning rush hour Monday, killing at least 4 and injuring 214


A strong earthquake hit the Japanese city of Osaka during morning rush hour Monday, killing at least three people and injuring 214

Magnitude Mw 5.6
Date time 2018-06-17 22:58:34.4 UTC
Location 34.84 N ; 135.53 E
Depth 14 km
Distances 16 km N of Ōsaka-shi, Japan / pop: 2,593,000 / local time: 07:58:34.4 2018-06-18
4 km NW of Ibaraki, Japan / pop: 274,000 / local time: 07:58:34.4 2018-06-18
Global view

Source parameters reviewed by a seismologist

Seismotectonics of Japan and Vicinity

The North America plate, Pacific plate, Philippine Sea plate, and Eurasia plate all influence the tectonic setting of Japan, Taiwan, and the surrounding area. Some authors divide the edges of these plates into several microplates that together take up the overall relative motions between the larger tectonic blocks, including the Okhotsk microplate in northern Japan, the Okinawa microplate in southern Japan, the Yangzee microplate in the area of the East China Sea, and the Amur microplate in the area of the Sea of Japan.

The seafloor expression of the boundary between the Pacific and North America plates lies 300 km off the east coasts of Hokkaido and Honshu at the Kuril-Kamchatka and Japan trenches. The subduction of the Pacific plate beneath the North America plate, at rates of 83-90 mm/yr, generates abundant seismicity, predominantly as a result of interplate slip along the interface between the plates. The 1958 M 8.4 Etorofu, 1963 M 8.6 Kuril, 2003 M 8.3 Tokachi-Oki, and the 2011 M 9.0 Tohoku earthquakes all exemplify such megathrust seismicity. The 1933 M 8.4 Sanriku-Oki earthquake and the 1994 M 8.3 Shikotan earthquake are examples of intraplate seismicity, caused by deformation within the lithosphere of the subducting Pacific plate (Sanriku-Oki) and of the overriding North America plate (Shikotan), respectively.

At the southern terminus of the Japan Trench the intersection of the Pacific, North America, and Philippine Sea plates forms the Boso Triple Junction, the only example of a trench-trench-trench intersection in the world. South of the triple junction the Pacific plate subducts beneath the Philippine Sea plate at the Izu-Ogasawara trench, at rates of 45-56 mm/yr. This margin is noteworthy because of the steep dip of the subducting Pacific plate (70° or greater below depths of 50 km depth), and because of its heterogeneous seismicity; few earthquakes above M 7 occur at shallow depths, yet many occur below 400 km. The lack of large shallow megathrust earthquakes may be a result of weak coupling at the plate interface, or simply a reflection of an incomplete earthquake catalog with respect to the length of typical seismic cycles.

The northernmost section of the Philippine Sea plate shares a 350 km boundary with the North America plate that runs approximately east-west from the Boso Triple Junction towards the Izu Peninsula. This short boundary is dominated by the subduction of the Philippine Sea plate beneath Japan along the Sagami Trough, but also includes small sections of transform motion.

The subduction of the Philippine Sea plate under the Eurasia plate begins at the Suruga Trough, immediately southwest of the Izu peninsula. In the northern Tōkai, Tonankai and Nankai sections of this subduction zone, historical data indicate M 8+ earthquake recurrence intervals of 100-150 years. The Tonankai and Nankai sections last ruptured in M 8.1 earthquakes in 1944 and 1946, respectively, while the Tōkai section last broke in 1854. In the 1980’s studies began to forecast the imminence of a large earthquake in the Tōkai region, and warned of its potential impact on the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama (the two largest cities in Japan); to date, the expected event has not occurred.

The boundary between the Philippine Sea and Eurasia plates continues south and southwestwards from the Suruga Trough, extending 2000 km along the Nankai and Ryukyu trenches before reaching the island of Taiwan. Along the Ryukyu Trench, the Philippine Sea plate exhibits trench normal subduction at rates increasing from 48 mm/yr in the northeast to 65 mm/yr in the southwest. Convergence and the associated back-arc deformation west of the oceanic trench creates the Ryukyu Islands and the Okinawa Trough. The largest historic event observed along this subduction zone was the M 8.1 Kikai Island earthquake in 1911.

In the vicinity of Taiwan the structure of the Philippine Sea: Eurasia plate boundary and the associated pattern of seismicity becomes more complex. 400 km east of Taiwan a clockwise rotation in the trend of the margin (from NE-SW to E-W), paired with an increase in subduction obliquity creates a section of the plate boundary that exhibits dextral transform and oblique thrusting motions. South of Taiwan the polarity of subduction flips; the Eurasia plate subducts beneath the Philippine Sea plate. Debate surrounds contrasting models of the plate boundary position between the zones of oppositely verging subduction, and the boundary’s relation to patterns of seismicity. Many studies propose that crustal thickening causes the majority of regional seismicity, while others attribute seismicity to deformation associated with subduction. Another resolution proposes a tear in the Philippine Sea plate and a complex assortment of subduction, transform, and collisional motion. All the models concede that seismicity around the island of Taiwan is anomalously shallow, with few earthquakes deeper than 70km.

While there are no instances of an earthquake M>8 in the modern record, Taiwan and its surrounding region have experienced eight M>7.5 events between 1900 and 2014. The dominance of shallow M<8 earthquakes suggests fairly weak plate boundary coupling, with most earthquakes caused by internal plate deformation. The 1935 M 7.1 Hsinchu-Taichung earthquake and the 1999 M 7.6 Chi-Chi Earthquake both exemplify the shallow continental crust thrust faulting that dominates regional seismicity across the island. A major tectonic feature of the island is the Longitudinal Valley Fault, which ruptures frequently in small, shallow earthquakes. In 1951, the Longitudinal Valley Fault hosted twelve M≥6 events known as the Hualien-Taitung earthquake sequence.

Large earthquakes in the vicinity of Japan and Taiwan have been both destructive and deadly. The regions high population density makes shallow earthquakes especially dangerous. Since 1900 there have been 13 earthquakes (9 in Japan, 4 in Taiwan) that have each caused over 1000 fatalities, leading to a total of nearly 200,000 earthquake related deaths. In January 1995 an earthquake that ruptured a southern branch of the Japan Median Tectonic Line near the city of Kobe (population 1.5 million) killed over 5000 people. The 1923 Kanto earthquake shook both Yokohama (population 500,000, at that time) and Tokyo (population 2.1 million), killing 142,000 people. The earthquake also started fires that burned down 90% of the buildings in Yokohama and 40% of the buildings in Tokyo. Most recently, the M9.0 Tohoku earthquake, which ruptured a 400 km stretch of the subduction zone plate boundary east of Honshu, and the tsunami it generated caused over 20,000 fatalities.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics

San Francisco: Experts consider these buildings vulnerable to collapse only in extreme shaking caused by rare and powerful earthquakes, similar to the one that struck San Francisco in 1906.

NY Times

USGS document:  HayWired

San Francisco Region at Night


The HayWired Earthquake Scenario—Engineering Implications is the second volume of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5013, which describes the HayWired scenario, developed by USGS and its partners. The scenario is a hypothetical yet scientifically realistic earthquake sequence that is being used to better understand hazards for the San Francisco Bay region during and after a magnitude-7 earthquake (mainshock) on the Hayward Fault and its aftershocks.

Analyses in this volume suggest that (1) 800 deaths and 16,000 nonfatal injuries result from shaking alone, plus property and direct business interruption losses of more than $82 billion from shaking, liquefaction, and landslides; (2) the building code is designed to protect lives, but even if all buildings in the region complied with current building codes, 0.4 percent could collapse, 5 percent could be unsafe to occupy, and 19 percent could have restricted use; (3) people expect, prefer, and would be willing to pay for greater resilience of buildings; (4) more than 22,000 people could require extrication from stalled elevators, and more than 2,400 people could require rescue from collapsed buildings; (5) the average east-bay resident could lose water service for 6 weeks, some for as long as 6 months; (6) older steel-frame high-rise office buildings and new reinforced-concrete residential buildings in downtown San Francisco and Oakland could be unusable for as long as 10 months; (7) about 450 large fires could result in a loss of residential and commercial building floor area equivalent to more than 52,000 single-family homes and cause property (building and content) losses approaching $30 billion; and (8) combining earthquake early warning (ShakeAlert) with “drop, cover, and hold on” actions could prevent as many as 1,500 nonfatal injuries out of 18,000 total estimated nonfatal injuries from shaking and liquefaction hazards.

Suggested Citation

Detweiler, S.T., and Wein, A.M., eds., 2018, The HayWired earthquake scenario—Engineering implications: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5013–I–Q, 429 p.,

“……Engineers have known about a major defect in certain steel-frame buildings since 1994, when shaking from the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles fractured critical joints in more than 60 buildings, bringing at least one very close to collapse. The building code was rewritten to eliminate the flawed technique.….”

1. Hartford Building, 650 California

2. Beal Bank Building, 180 Sansome

3. Bechtel Building, 50 Beale

4. 44 Montgomery

5. 425 California Street

6. 555 California Street

7. McKesson Plaza, One Post

8. Pacific Gas & Electric Building, 77 Beale

9. One Embarcadero Center, 355 Clay

10. Transamerica Pyramid, 600 Montgomery

11. 100 Pine Center, 100 Pine

USGS: Kilauea Update

U.S. Geological Survey
Saturday, May 5, 2018, 11:54 AM HST (Saturday, May 5, 2018, 21:54 UTC)

19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WARNING
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE


Summary: Active eruption of lava and gas continues along Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone within the Leilani Estates subdivision. Additional fissure vents producing spatter and small lava flows developed early this morning, and additional outbreaks in the area are likely. Deflationary tilt at the summit of the volcano continues and the lava lake level continues to drop. There is no active lava in the Puʻu ʻŌʻō area. Aftershocks from yesterday’s M6.9 earthquake continue and more should be expected, with larger aftershocks potentially producing rockfalls and associated ash clouds above Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

Photos and maps of activity will be posted to the HVO web site as soon as possible.


Residents of the Puna District should remain alert, review individual, family, and business emergency plans, and watch for further information about the status of the volcano.

Hawaii County Civil Defense messages regarding conditions, warning, and evacuations may be found at

Summit Observations: Deflationary tilt at the summit continues. In concert, the summit lava lake is dropping. Tremor amplitude is fluctuating with lava lake spattering. No large rockfalls or ash plumes related to rockfalls into the lava lake, such as occurred yesterday during the large earthquake sequence, have occurred. Elevated summit sulfur dioxide emission rates persist. Gas emissions remain elevated. Current webcam views are here:

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: Seismicity remains elevated at Puʻu ʻŌʻō but tiltmeters near the cone show no significant deformation overnight. No lava is active in the area and the 61g lava flow is no longer being fed. The summit crater of the cone will likely continue to collapse intermittently producing small plumes of ash. Yesterday, there were several vigorous episodes of ash emission in response to collapse, including immediately after the nearby M6.9 earthquake.

Hazard Analysis: Additional fissure outbreaks producing spatter and lava flows are likely. Locations cannot be forecast with certainty, but new outbreaks thus far have been preceded by ground cracking, then strong steam and volcanic gas release. Areas uprift and downrift of the current fissure zone are the most likely to see further outbreaks.

Areas downslope of an erupting fissure or vent are at risk of lava inundation. Currently, lava flows from active fissures are sluggish and not moving very quickly or far. The general area of the Leilani subdivision remains at greatest risk. However, as the eruption progresses, other areas of the lower East Rift Zone may also be at risk.
High levels of volcanic gas including sulphur dioxide are being emitted from the fissure vents. In addition, smoke from burning houses and burning asphalt is a health concern and should be avoided.

As the lava lake level inside Halemaʻumaʻu drops, rockfalls from the enclosing walls may increase in frequency prompting explosions of spatter from the lake onto the nearby crater rim and lofting plumes of ash. Dustings of ash from these events can occur downwind. Yesterday’s strong earthquakes were responsible for some of these plumes and associated ashfall, both from Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake and the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent.

Additional aftershocks from yesterday’s M6.9 earthquake are expected and some may be strong. Residents are advised to review earthquake preparedness by consulting available resources such as:


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