14th Mallet Milne Lecture

Of course, the other major activity earlier this year was the preparation for the 14th Mallet Milne Lecture. Those familiar with this biannual event, organised by the Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics (SECED), will know that the actual lecture is only part of it: it is customary for the lecture to be accompanied [...]

The Book

It’s been a long while since I updated this blog – well, there have been reasons. It’s been a busy time since I last wrote here. And also, I needed to update WordPress, which is a task I kept putting off.

So – there have been other writing projects, notably my book: “The Million Death Earthquake”, [...]

The latest on L’Aquila

I have had a number of messages from various people in the scientific community in the UK asking if there is any petition they can sign in support of the Italian scientists recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter over the affair of the L’Aquila earthquake. While I’m not aware of any petition, I do know that [...]

The verdict in the L’ Aquila case

The seismological community is still in a state of shock today after yesterday’s verdict of manslaughter against six scientists in Italy. In understanding this case, it’s important to be aware of the full facts.

In the spring of 2009, a series of small but highly perceptible earthquakes was being felt in the central Italian city of [...]

The 11 March 2011 tsunami at Kamaishi

The video footage linked below is particularly interesting because it is an unedited record of what happened at the fishing port of Kamaishi, towards the northern end of the east coast of Honshu, immediately after the earthquake. The film starts more or less directly after the shaking stopped; on the soundtrack you can hear people [...]

Seismological cartoons

For many years I’ve been collecting cartoons about earthquakes, mostly from newspapers. I have some that go back to the early 20th century. A lot of them are depressingly similar. Many are simply variations on “shaken but not stirred” or “did the earth move for you?”. It’s a refreshing change to find one that actually [...]

Ground motion complexity

Here’s a puzzle for the ground motion modelling community. We all know that the average strong ground motion model computes motion as a function of magnitude, distance, fault style (usually) and site conditions (usually). Imponderables that also affect it include rupture direction, slip distribution, and path effects (refraction, reflection and interference as waves are transmitted [...]

Another great Alaskan earthquake ...

It is truly astonishing some of the things you can find on the internet. Take this, for example. I’m deliberately not providing a link to the original. Read it, try and work out the meaning of it.

At 5:36 p.m. Alaska Standard Time (3:36 a.m. March 28, 1964 UTC), a fault between the Pacific and North [...]

A hoax from 1790

Sometimes enquiries come my way for the most obscure events. One recent example concerned a supposed earthquake at Ormside, Westmoreland. The source is the chronology of British earthquakes at the back of Peter Haining’s book “The Great English Earthquake” (published by Hale in 1976). Haining cites Gentleman’s Magazine and states that two fissures over 200 [...]

Probabilistic programming

Given the importance of probability to modern seismic hazard assessment, I found it interesting to discover the other day the world’s only probabilistic programming language. It’s called Java2K and was invented by Gerson Kurz. As the name suggests, it’s sort of an update on the Java programming language, with which it shares some features. However, [...]