At California Nuclear Plant, Emergency Response Plans Don’t Include Earthquakes

Diablo Canyon plant is a mile from off-shore fault-

I recall there was a long fight against this plant a generation ago. It generated a case that went to the Supreme Court.

One of the chief arguments was that there was a fault nearby. The larger San Adreas fault is not far either. They say the maximum quake possible at Diablo Canyon is 7.5.  The plant is supposed to have been built to withstand that.

I thought everyone knew the San Andrews fault has produced many 8 + quakes over the last thousand years.

Diablo Canyon reactor. Huffington Post.

Related. Congress wants to cut tsunami warning centers? Really? By CNNPolitics.com.

GOP budget targets agency that warned of tsunami. By Matthew Daly. AP

Summary of the February 2010 Yellowstone Earthquake Swarm

Now it’s over and the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory has a summary-

Summary of January – February 2010 Yellowstone Earthquake Swarm. USGS.

This was the second biggest earthquake swarm recorded in the Park. Note that detailed records don’t go back all that far.

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Yellowstone quake swarm continues

After dropping off some, quakes increase again-

This time around, fortunately,  fewer folks are predicting doom. 😉

These swarms happen every year or so. With the development of the Internet, blogging, and the realization of the catastrophic potential of the Yellowstone supervolcano, news of these earthquake swarms began to spark alarm when they were reported.  In fact they have come and gone each time making little observable difference.

Large quakes are possible in and near the Park, but not common. The largest since seismology developed was in 1959. This 7.4 quake just northwest of West Yellowstone caused a huge landslide at the mouth of the Madison River Canyon. It dammed the river, buried a number of campers, and created what is now named Quake Lake. In total 35 people died. More information on that quake.

There have been a number of moderate quakes since, and one other large one, a 6.5 quake in 1975 centered near Norris Geyser Basin. None have resulted in any volcanic activity.

More than 1,200 tiny quakes hit Yellowstone Park, but jitters are few.  By Mead Gruver. Associated Press.

~more~

Link to current Yellowstone earthquakes. Yellowstone National Park Special Map

Feb. 10, 2010. Yellowstone earthquake swarm dwindles. Series of quakes is the largest in park since 1985. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

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New Yellowstone Park earthquake swarm

No. It doesn’t mean the end is near 😉

University of Utah seismic station.

Earthquake swarm in park tops 1,000. Billings Gazette.

Note added 1-24.  As expected, the swarm has dropped off a lot.

Geothermal Project in California Is abruptly abandoned

It caused earthquakes!

Geothermal Project in California Is Shut Down. By James Glanz. New York Times.

The person who emailed this story to me wrote, “Boy – If you’ve ever read a geothermal EA to destroy the nearest hot springs  – BLM never says anything about the earthquakes …”

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I have been skeptical of geothermal energy using hot springs and geothermal anomalies, which this seems to have been. No hot spring seems safe, nor even Yellowstone Park when there is a boomlet for geothermal power.

Some company wants to put hydropower on Quake Lake!

Looks like the agency and groups are jumping off the wall. Good!

Story about this idiot proposal. By Jessica Mayrer. Bozeman Chronicle staff writer

Drill a fault for geothermal; trigger an earthquake?

Most geothermal developments use natural hot spring areas, but a new method may have great promise and danger-

Geothermal energy is regarded as a quasi renewable energy source because it does not use fossil fuels, uses the natural heat of the earth, and can be turned into clean electricity or for lower temperature sources for space heating by circulation of warm water. Iceland has made great strides in geothermal development.

However, hot spring areas do not occur everywhere, their useful life for geothermal energy is limited in time, and unique natural and scenic features are often destroyed in development.

As a result, developers want to drill deeper using the natural heat gradient of the Earth. The easiest way to do this is down a fault which provides a natural crack often leading to heat. Of course, faults are the cause and the result of earthquakes. Lubricating the fault with water seems a bit scary, but surprisingly a program is underway with more coming Idaho, Nevada, and California.

Deep in Bedrock, Clean Energy and Quake Fears. By James Glanz. New York Times.

My photo of an abandoned geothermal well in Raft River Valley, Idaho.

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