Electronics Supplies Affected by Japanese Earthquake

Earlier this week Southern Japan was wracked by a number of powerful earthquakes which has affected the supply chains for a number of major electronics firms including Sony, Mitsubishi Electric and chip-maker Renesas which had factories in the area.

The Kumamoto prefecture on the isle of Kyushu was first struck on Thursday evening local time by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake, which triggered a number of aftershocks. Early on Saturday morning, the region was hit again by a more powerful quake measuring a magnitude of 7.3 and triggering warnings of a potential tsunami. It was reported by NHK Television that at least 4 people had been confirmed dead as a result of the Saturday quake, compounding with the 9 deaths and over 1000 injured by the quakes on Thursday.

As a result of the quakes, Sony put a halt to work at its Kumamoto factory, which produces the digital image sensors used in many devices including Apple’s iPhone. It is currently unclear how long the factory will be out of action or if it will be long enough to affect the availability of products that rely on the sensors. Renesas Electronics and Mitsubishi Electric also possess manufacturing plants in the region which have currently been suspended with the former making chips for the automotive industry and the latter power devices. Addition Mitsubishi Electric facilities in the nearby area have also ground to a halt, including an LCD parts facility and semiconductor plant.

The worst of the earthquakes have now passed for the region, as the Japan Meteorological Agency reported that Saturday’s quake was the main quake and Thursday’s was just a precursor. We can only hope that this natural disaster-torn part of Japan and its people will start to recover soon and the region can begin working to return to normal.

Carbon Fiber Threads Could Protect Old Buildings Against Earthquakes

When it comes to protecting buildings from earthquakes, the more recent the building the more likely it is to stand up thanks to advancements in both technology and structural designs to use supports and designs that will help reduce or even prevent a building being damaged. This doesn’t give you much support for the older buildings that you want to still protect, leaving you with few options to protect precious history, until the creation of carbon fiber threads that was.

Komatsu Seiren Fabric Laboratory has developed carbon fiber-based CABKOMA Strand Rods and suggests they could be used for protecting older buildings against earthquakes by tying the roof to the ground in a similar way to a tents guidelines. The fibers would allow the building to move together, ultimately keeping the roof and floors beneath it moving together.

While the idea of “anchoring” a building may sound silly, the threads are very strong and lightweight, giving you the ability to transport and make the precautions necessary to protect heritage and historical sites.

https://youtu.be/SIorJpr784o

While a great idea, there are limitations. The threads won’t work in dense urban areas or on tall buildings, giving you limited use in cities but it could be the first in many steps to help save lives and buildings when an earthquake strikes.

You Can Help Detect Earthquakes With Your Smartphone!

There is an app for everything these days, from ordering an Uber taxi to messaging through Whatsapp types of services. You can remote control drones, monitor your exercise and even play board games on the little device you keep in your pocket. So why not get an app that can be used to help others without causing you any trouble, such as one to detect earthquakes with your smartphone?

Typically Seismologists study earthquakes, from the warnings weeks before the initial earthquake to the ones that appear out of nowhere. Detecting earthquakes is difficult, requiring expensive pieces of equipment called seismometers around potential hotspots of activity. A group led by University Of California-Berkeley’s have described an android app, that you can even download right now, that will help turn your mobile phone into a seismometer, enabling you to help report and evaluate earthquakes and their impacts.

Using the phone’s built-in accelerometers, the app is able to detect a magnitude 5 earthquake from as far away as 10 kilometers from the center of an earthquake, with the range increasing with the magnitude of the earthquake.

The app’s major breakthrough is breaking through the noise and motion that your smartphone would normally go through, from sitting on a bus or in a car to fighting with your phone while it’s in your pocket. They do this by sending data to a central system, and if you and nearby users are all reporting the same movement they will sound an alarm giving people precious moments to act.

The Wonders of Technology – Anti Earthquake Beds!

Natural disasters. We can be warned about some of them, such as Storms and Volcano’s erupting but sometimes that just isn’t enough. Earthquakes strike fast, and even with preparation, they can be deadly. Not to fear, a clever designer has created a range of beds designed to keep you safe should an earthquake ever happen while you are in bed.

In case you were wondering these are miracle saviours, the beds are designed as metal bunkers that would protect you while your building collapses, giving the rescue services enough time to find you while avoiding any harm from the fall or debris. If that wasn’t enough you even have a choice of how you want to spend those dark days, and how you even get out of bed and into the metal casket.

With several different ways to protect yourself, from magician like falling bottoms to a four-poster bed with a collapsing roof. Some designs even look a little less safe, such as the design where the roof is held up in the middle and drops down on either side, potentially cutting your limbs off before burying you in safety.

https://youtu.be/RI3pz5p6l24

While all these designs are nifty, the water, emergency rations, medical kit, fire extinguisher and gas masks go a long way to making these beds a mini-bunker for a short-term stay.

Twitter is Helping the USGS to Detect Earthquakes

The US Geological Survey is the government body that is responsible for tracking seismic activity in the United States and abroad, and it looks like those who are directly involved in these tracking sessions are using data from Twitter in order to achieve quicker and more precise results. More specifically, the USGS has used the company’s public API in order to identify various earthquakes around the world. It’s likely that the government body has chosen to use this particular social media platform because most of the sensors that are feeding data to the USGS National Earthquake Information Center are located on US territory. This means that it is quite difficult to keep tabs on earthquakes happening in other parts of the world.

Software developer  Michelle Guy and USGS seismologist Paul Earle have kept a close eye on tweets related to earthquakes and discovered that people usually keep these messages short and don’t include any links in them. They also don’t share a lot of information regarding the event’s magnitude. These behavioural patterns allowed them to implement several filters that were quite efficient at detecting earthquakes, usually within a two-minute time frame. A particularly successful case happened in 2014 when the two managed to detect an earthquake in Napa, California in just 29 seconds with Twitter’s help.

https://twitter.com/MikeIsaac/status/387071379931004928?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information.

Game Developers Support Nepal Earthquake Relief Funding

It’s always heart-warming when gamers and developers come together to help out when catastrophe strikes.

Last week, on April 25th, a 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake hit Nepal with an aftershock of 6.6 and a second aftershock measuring 6.7 the next day. The death toll climbed to more than 6,800 people, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“I am heartened and encouraged by the generosity and solidarity shown to date, but I am also conscious of the urgent need to provide emergency shelter and basic goods and services to people affected as the monsoon season rapidly approaches. So many people have lost everything,” – Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs

In light of the recent events, a multitude of gaming companies have taken action to relief support and we all can support funding for the disaster. Eve Online developer CCP Games has initiated their ‘PLEX for Good’ drive, which raised $190,890 for the Typhoon in the Philippines during November 2013. PLEX cards are in-game items that can be purchased and used to add game-time to your account. CCP is offering two virtual in-game T-shirts for your Eve Online character for each PLEX donated to the cause.

Destiny has taken a more physical route by offering real-life T-Shirts, shipping in early June, for $24.99 with 100% of the profits going toward Nepal relief effort funding. Further more, they are offering an in-game shader and emblem code with every purchase of the aforementioned shirts.

Just as well, as reported by Crunchyroll.com, SEGA has already donated more than $16,800 to the Red Cross and for a limited time when gamers can make in-game purchases, SEGA will match the amount spent toward the relief funding. Games mentioned to be included in this drive are:

  • Phantasy Star Online 2
  • Puyo Puyo! Quest
  • Chain Chronicle
  • Hortensia Saga

Startphones May Be Able to Predict When the next Earthquake Will Be

The common smartphone can do more than track movement, personal health or geographical position. The gadgets nowadays can also warn users of potential earthquakes thanks to advancements in GPS technology.

A team of researchers from the United States reveal how a crowdsourced early warning system can look like. They say that the smartphones are currently able to predict any earthquake with a magnitude of 7 of above. U.S. Geological Survey study leader in California, Sarah Minson, explained how the accelerometer data can be used along with GPS readings to give accurate real-time map activity.

“The GPS on a smartphone is shockingly good. If you take your phone and move it six inches to the right, it knows with surprising accuracy that it moved six inches to the right — and that is exactly what we want to know when studying earthquakes,” Minson stated.

While the idea is unique, it does have its limitations. Smartphones are not scientific instruments and can only act as warning systems, but even so, they may prove to even save lives one day. Minson stated that a special app is required to help record the data.

“The cost is essentially zero, especially since people buy new phones every two years or so to have the latest-and-greatest model,” Minson added.

The researchers have taken data from the 2011 earthquake in Tōhoku, Japan, to test the warning system out. Also, in order to avoid false alarms, the system is said to look for similar movement in different handsets at once.

The study was published in the Science Advances journal, but more research needs to be done before you can have your smartphones yelling at you in case they detect an earthquake.

Thank you Digital Trends for providing us with this information

NVIDIA Award Given to Scientists Who Use GPUs to Predict Earthquakes

Computational scientist Yifeng Cui and his team developed a GPU-accelerated code, named AWP-ODC, which creates detailed simulations of high-frequency seismic waves as they propagate through the earth. This in turn is said to predict earthquakes and helped the team receive the NVIDIA 2015 Global Impact award.

“This month marks the fourth anniversary of the 9.0-magnitude quake off Japan’s east coast which, with the ensuing tsunami, killed 16,000 and caused some $235 billion in damage. Haiti, Chile and Indonesia have each been with catastrophic earthquakes in the past five years. Californians know another big one is a matter of time.”

Cui and his team broke scientific and technical barriers by using the NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerator-powered Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Leadership Computing Facility. This is said to be the first time that scientists could simulate ground motions from large fault ruptures to frequencies as high as 10 Hertz in a physically realistic way.

The code is said to have run 5X faster on NVIDIA GPUs, having a complex representative of the San Andreas Fault. Nobody until now had a way to predict earthquakes as accurately as Cui and his team did. However, things are about to change in the future.

Thank you N4GM for providing us with this inforamtion

Check Your Areas Earthquake Potential With National Seismic Hazard Map

Predicting when an earthquake will happen is still something that proves near impossible for researchers, if we could, then we would be able to save a lot of lives from the dangers of some of the bigger earth quakes that happen around the world each year. However, we can access the hazard and potential threat of earthquakes in a particular area.

A new map for the U.S. Geological Survey is the most up-to-date hazard assessment for a temblor in your area and beyond. The map uses data from more than 100 years of global earthquake observations to highlight areas that are most likely to suffer from earthquakes.

The new data suggests that the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which covers areas such as southern Illinois to northern Louisiana, is more capable to yield a quake over a broader area than previously assumed. Whilst areas such as Irvine, Santa Barbara, Oakland, California and New York City have had their risk slightly downgraded since the last survey in 2008.

The 16 states in the US that are at the highest risk are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Thank you Popsci for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Popsci.

NASA Reveal Images Of A New Island That Emerged After Pakistan Earthquake

NASA have released a few images showing an Island that newly formed off the coast of Pakistan on September 24th. The island formed after a devastating earthquake struck mainland Pakistan causing over 500 fatalities, RT reports. However, one of the consequences of that quake was this new island which formed 380 kilometres from its epicentre in Paddi Zirr Bay near Gwadar, Pakistan, in the Arabian Sea.

Two comparative shots of the same area just a few months between, April 17th above and September 26th below, show the newly formed island popping up offshore. The new island is called “Zalzala Jazeera” literally meaning earthquake island. Scientists say the formation of the new island in the area is due to the relatively low water level of 15 to 20 metres.

The Zalzala Jazeera island is described by scientists as “just a big pile of mud from the seafloor that got pushed up”. The island will not last very long and scientists claim the island will remain above sea level for about a year before sinking back to the bottom again.

Local people have visited the new island with boats in abundance.

Images #1,#2 and #3 courtesy of NASA, Image #4 courtesy of Reuters / Stringer

Magnitude 7 Earthquake Under New Zealand Has Been Happening For 5 Months

A report by GeoNet suggests that a magnitude 7 earthquake has been occurring underneath New Zealand’s North Island now for over 5 months. Citizens in the city of Wellington and in other places on the North Island have yet to feel anything either despite a magnitude 7 earthquake taking place 40km below the ground.

The earthquake is said to be New Zealand’s largest earthquake in 150 years yet nothing is felt at the surface and recording instruments are struggling to pick it up. The reason is that unlike “normal” earthquakes that release their energy in minutes, this is a silent or slow-slip earthquake that takes ages to release its energy over a longer period.

The current silent earthquake beneath New Zealand involves the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates and affects 100 square kilometers of land from Levin to Marlborough Sounds. Specialists expect it to continue, largely unnoticed, for another few more months.

“GeoNet’s continuously-running GPS instruments in Wellington and Kapiti show that the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates are slipping past each other more rapidly than usual. This has been going on since January of this year, and will most likely continue for several months.”

While slow-slide events are unlikely to cause any damage, they can trigger other damaging earthquakes so New Zealand definitely isn’t out of the woods yet.

Image courtesy of GeoNet

Russian Magnitude 8.3 Earthquake Said To Biggest Ever Deep Temblor

Just two days ago Eastern Russia was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 8.3. In itself that strength makes this earthquake very significant but what is most significant is that it occurred a staggering 608.9 kilometers below the Earth’s surface. According to reports by Nature this is unusual because we very rarely see earthquakes of this magnitude at this depth, the only other one on record that is comparable is the 8.2 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Bolivia in 1994 at a depth of 631 kilometers.

The reason why this giant Russian “Deep Temblor” was able to occur is because beneath the Sea of Okhotsk (where the earthquake happened) the Pacific crust is descending under the Eurasian plate. Given the relative speed of its descent, 8cm/3.15 inches per year, the plate gets to stay “cool” enough to be prone to rupturing thus allowing the earthquake to occur.

Reports suggest that the earthquake was felt as far away as Moscow but preliminary reports suggest little damage and no fatalities, surprising for a magnitude 8.3 earthquake but not surprising given how sparsely populated the Russia Far East is.

It is now expected that this earthquake will provoke further study and perhaps teach us something new about earthquakes:

“A series of smaller quakes, up to about magnitude 6.0, had shaken just south and east of Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky over the past several days. But they were far shallower. Figuring out how the shallow earthquake swarm and the large deep quake are related — if they are — is likely to be a topic of intense study.”

Image courtesy of Nature