Over a thousand miles away, the 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes rang church bells in Boston as the Mississippi River ran backwards.
There was no place to run and no place to hide.
Some fault lines are well known. Others are more obscure but nonetheless ubiquitous. We live on the crust of a living planet that is in constant motion. Somewhere at any given time there is a whole lot of shaking going on. It’s only when it happens to us or somewhere close by do we pay attention.
If you think you are secure in flyover country, you had better keep reading. From California to Montana, down the continental divide to Texas, across to West Virginia, and up to New England, craton boundaries are being activated by cavitation and the transfer of energy from the Pacific Fire Ring.
By and large earthquakes follow tectonic plate and craton boundaries, which are breaks that extend through the earth’s crust and uppermost mantle.
Think of a large, crispy cookie. If you pick it up and put enough stress on it with your hands, it will usually break into a number of pieces.
Stress on the cratons is relieved by perforations, from drilling and fracking operations and from volcanic activity, which provide channels through the crust into the underlying magma. The U.S. is virtually covered with evidence of volcanic activity both recent and ancient. In the western U.S. this evidence is plainly seen with satellite technology. In the eastern sections of the country, the increased precipitation and subsequent increased erosion of the surface geology coupled with the increased cover of vegetation tends to obscure the volcanic features that are nonetheless indigenous to the terrain.
Bear in mind that volcanic and geothermal activity and earthquakes traditionally go hand in glove. The countless number of holes drilled into the crust for hydrocarbon and geothermal extraction and other purposes is changing the natural earthquake profile. Normally stable areas are becoming active.
The good news is that there are very specific actions you can take to greatly reduce your vulnerability to these seemingly unpredictable events.
What would you think if I told you that contrary to the official USGS government doctrine, earthquakes can be forecast to a remarkable extent?
On February 9, 1971 at 6:00 AM I was still away in dreamland, lulled asleep by the constant murmur of the Pacific surf. My house in Manhattan Beach rested at the top of a large sand dune in a warren of small houses that had sprung up in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Airline people flocked to the area because of the beach culture and the convenient proximity to LAX.
I thought that Ruthli, my lovely Pan Am stewardess was shaking the bed telling me to wake up, wake up!
I opened my eyes and saw the Japanese Lantern that hung over the bed swaying back and forth. I knew what was happening immediately. In a flash we were out of bed and standing in the street with a gathering band of neighbors as the sandy earth continued to roll in waves beneath our feet making it difficult to maintain our balance. I had never felt so helpless.
There was nowhere to go. There was no place to hide from the 6.5 San Fernando temblor that dropped freeway spans, destroyed older buildings and caused the high rises along the Santa Monica Freeway to sway precipitously.
“The near total failure of the Lower Van Norman Dam caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of down stream residents…” (Wikipedia)
As you will see from the following video, L.A. was a far different place almost half a century ago – much more social cohesion then when disaster struck.
That event, described in more detail in The Atomic Trekker: How I Avoided 9 Fatal Mistakes and Learned to Live Happily in a Radioactive World launched me on a quest that led to my escape from the military-industrial complex and a new life on higher ground, building blast and radiation shelters.
I discovered that a properly designed blast shelter was also a good earthquake shelter. My new Montana location was still in an active quake zone but I did not have to worry about tsunamis.
With that introduction of my bona-fides to address these issues and in consideration of the 6.4 and 7.1 events occurring in California on July 4 and 5 respectively and with more on the way, please consider a few recommendations that could save your life.
1. Install a motion sensitive automatic Earthquake Gas Shut-off Valve if your dwelling uses natural gas or propane. Earthquakes are notorious for rupturing utility lines. Many houses explode and burn from gas leaks as a secondary but no less deadly effect.
Get one now. They are cheap and very cost-effective for the protection they provide. Do your due diligence and select the best valve to suit your needs and DIY or find a good plumber you trust and take his advice. Here are some helpful links (click to open in a new tab):
I have a blog acquaintance who lived through the 7.9 Alaska quake centered off Kodiak Island in 2018 with his family. The wood houses in his neighborhood largely survived with minor damage but tragically, most of the neighboring homes burned to the ground. The referenced blogger happened to be a chemical engineer and had the foresight to install a simple automatic earthquake shut-off valve on his gas meter. His house survived unscathed while the neighborhood was destroyed.
The lesson here is to make sure your friends and neighbors also install these devices.
At the very least get a dedicated wrench and attach it to the main shut-off valve located outside the house so that if all else fails you can manually turn off the gas.
2. Prepare to manually turn off the electrical power. Find the main electrical service entrance to the structure. Usually, you can lift the lid of the box enclosure and flip the main breakers. If a tool is needed to open the box, get one now and secure it to the box or to a conduit coming out of the box so that is easily seen when under duress. Here is a helpful link (click to open in a new tab):
- YouTube video explaining the different types of main breaker panels and how to locate and turn them off.
3. Prepare to cut off the water. You don’t need a house flood from broken pipes. If needed, secure the appropriate tool to the cut off valve. Here is a helpful link (click to open in a new tab):
4. Have a 3 day bug-out backpack provisioned and ready to go pre-positioned where you can conveniently grab it and head out the door after you survive the initial quake effects.
5. Have a larger pack and a 14 day supply of food and other essential supplies pre-positioned in your vehicle. Keep the vehicle well-fueled and topped off. I always have two NATO 20 liter fuel cans stored in the vehicle. The only fuel cans I recommend are made by WAVIAN. Click here to visit their website.
From the WAVIAN website, “Wavian Fuel Cans are made in the very same factory that has been producing Steel Jerry Cans for NATO countries since WWI. Originally located in Germany, the cans’ manufacturing facility had to move to Latvia during the second world war. They’ve been made there ever since. These are the original, genuine NATO Jerry Cans.”
Beware of cheap Chinese imitations. They can get you killed. Occasionally, genuine used NATO cans come into the U.S. market and these can be quite good also if carefully inspected to make sure the rubber seals are still intact.
Items 1-4 are prudent measures to maintain at all times and are not specific only to earthquakes. Since you don’t know precisely when a quake will strike, practice the following measures that are based on actual case studies and not conjecture.
6. Stay where you are when caught by a strong quake. Your greatest danger is from flying debris. If inside. Duck and cover, protecting your head and vitals. Crawl under a table or desk and hold on to it. If no table or suitable overhead cover is close by, crawl to an interior wall and ball up with hands over the back of the head.
Sounds like the grizzly attack “play dead” tactic and the nuclear attack “duck and cover” protective measure doesn’t it?
Stay away from external walls and doorways despite what you see touted on the internet by self-proclaimed experts.
If caught outside, stay outside. Duck and cover away from buildings and vehicles to present the smallest target for flying debris. If in a vehicle, stay in a vehicle. If outside do not take cover beside or under a vehicle.
Review this website for the empirical evidence behind the actions recommended in number 6 above which may be contrary to what you have been taught. Click here.
As with all the ordinary traumas and dramas of life you may have to adjust and calibrate for your particular circumstance so stay awake and flexible. Your mileage may vary.
If conditions are severe enough to knock you around, it might be the better part of wisdom to shelter in place with what you have. Roads may be impassable due to fallen debris and power lines. It might be better to stick around and protect your property from looters.
If you are fortunate enough to have followed the advice of The Atomic Trekker and have constructed your private blast and fallout shelter, you are all set. Even if your house was totally demolished, your shelter will have survived intact with its stored supplies.
As for myself, when I went through the 1971 San Fernando quake, my beach house survived intact but a series of darker events started to roil around in my psyche.
We humans are remarkably adaptable creatures. My wood house made with full-dimension rough-cut floor joists from back in the day survived the quake with no damage. Before buying the house I had crawled around underneath the floor looking for termites which are legion to the area and discovered the sturdy construction underneath the somewhat beach-worn exterior.
The aftershocks went on for a year or more. They were magnified by the sandy ground. After a while you get used to them. The house shakes a bit and things rattle around but you go on about your business putting on that new sundeck over the garage. There were hundreds if not thousands of aftershocks.
On The Beach (quote from The Atomic Trekker)
After dropping out of the corporate rat race I lived on the beach for five years as I got my life
sorted out. I traveled all over the world, always returning to my little house overlooking the ocean where I was lulled to sleep with the roar of the pacific surf. I got to know the many moods of the sea – the tranquil and the tragic – as I stared ever westward into a sunset of endless summer.
The turn of the seasons were barely perceptible from the shore but the ocean responded to
seasonal events on the far side of the world.
In winter, great typhoons in the southern oceans generated enormous wave sets that traveled
thousands of miles to pound the California coast. In that regard, nothing much had changed
since 1840 when Richard Henry Dana wrote about it in Two Years Before The Mast.
On one bright and sunny New Year’s Day the ocean was filled with boats as the afternoon sea
breeze freshened the balmy 65 degree atmosphere in the Los Angeles basin. I watched from my sun deck as more and more boats of every description paraded back and forth along the coast. There was a heavy surf running and the parade stayed well off the beach and well off the breakers. But there were always fools.
Lured in by a seeming calm in the wave sets, a 60 foot motor launch with hatches open and full of people was caught on the beam by an outside breaker. The craft flipped over and was
relentlessly pounded to pieces in the 16 foot surf.
17 people including children drowned in their life jackets at the foot of my street in Manhattan
Beach. My respect for the sea reached a new level as I struggled to digest the meaning of the tragedy.
When the earth started to shake, I started to have a recurrent dream…
I was standing on the beach looking out to sea as a tsunami approached. It grew closer, reaching enormous proportions, 100 feet high and totally black. There was no place to go, no escape and no place to hide. I always awoke in terror.
That dream propelled me to the mountains far away from the sea. I would never again be able to sleep easy at sea level.
Tragedies live on in the subconscious mind and have a life of their own that can come back and bite you in unexpected ways when you least expect it.
One of the essential tasks of the Atomic Trekker is to expunge and purge the subconscious mind to get rid of those propensities for self sabotage. Success is not baked into the mission. The trek could end in ignominious failure.
I had to get rid of the inner demons first because there would be plenty of external enemies ahead before I learned to forecast earthquakes.
Don’t worry. I haven’t lost my marbles. You can learn to forecast earthquakes too.
If you do not know Dutchsinse, please let me introduce him now – the gentleman who is turning the geophysical establishment on it’s head because he is doing what they said cannot be done. Dutchsinse has a successful track record of forecasting earthquakes based on the empirical record of actual events, not theory. He and his colleagues are forging a new scientific paradigm.
Rather than me trying to explain it to you, the best way to grasp the methodology is for him to present it in his own words.
Anyone with a smattering of high school science will understand how to forecast your own earthquakes.
Pay attention to the wording of that last sentence. I said “forecast”, not predict. An earthquake forecast is much like a weather forecast and not a “prediction”. Once you cross that Rubicon into the realm of statistical prediction, the hucksters come out of the woodwork and you had better check the most sensitive nerve of the body located back in the vicinity of your rear pocket where your wallet is located because somebody is trying to sell you a smelly load of B.S.
On hearing the word “prediction”, I am certain that Herr Doktor Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb would severely frown before rising to his feet shouting “nonsense” to call you out for confusing percentages of certainty with Black Swans. He then might challenge you to read Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder so you don’t have to worry so much about specific events such as earthquakes. You can develop “rules of thumb” to deal with contingents and get on with life.
With that said, listen up and enjoy Dutchsince. Pay particular attention to the standing wave experiments at UCLA that he refers to.
Dutchsinse has discovered that government agencies lie when it suits their political purposes. USGS routinely changes and selectively omits scientific real-time data feeds when the evidence begins to run counter to official policy. I discovered the same thing with government real-time radiation data feeds from monitoring stations across the U.S.
That’s why I strongly recommend that individuals learn to do their own monitoring, establish their own independent monitoring networks and take responsibility for themselves. In The Atomic Trekker I thoroughly explain how to do this.
Now, with all the mention of “new paradigms” in science, don’t expect the entrenched establishment to rollover to a new point of view in any time span less than two or three generations.
The reason why came out in a little physics discussion – some back and forth friendly repartee with my daughter during a visit. I wrote about it in a piece entitled:
The Mephisto Waltz & The Planter’s Paradox
April 8, 2017
By the way, in regard to the last piece we did on Gabe Brown and the paradigm shift to healthy production agriculture, do you think Big Ag can ever be changed to where they stop poisoning people?”
“That’s a rhetorical and theoretical question and a leading one at that,” she grins, “What do you think, Dad?”
“I know I will never get the last word with my daughter but someone you respect had a good answer. Your first love was theoretical physics. Right?”
“OK, go on,” she answers, “I think I know where you are going with this.”
“Remember when Max Planck the originator of quantum physics was famously asked how long it would take for the new physics to be accepted by the science establishment and he responded that ‘it seldom happens on the road to Emmaus where Saul becomes Paul in a sudden transformation of light.’?
“Oh Dad, another one of your little games, you know that I know something about Max Planck. Let’s be more precise.” She reaches over to the bookshelf and pulls out a well-worn copy of Bartlett’s Quotations and reads from a book-marked passage:
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” — Max Planck
I paraphrase in rusty German, “Die Wahrheit triumphiert nie, ihre Gegner sterben nur aus, or Truth never triumphs—its opponents just die out. More loosely translated as Science advances one funeral at a time.”
My daughter nods in agreement, a grim smile on her face. “Unfortunately, it’s true.”
“G’bye Sweetie. I have to get over the pass before dark.”
The closing recommendations I commend to you for becoming Quake Proof are:
7. Hit the antifragile trail where singular events such as quakes and nukes are stressors that only make you stronger provided you are not entirely wiped out. On the trail you will discover “rules of thumb” that will enable you to deal with the stressors. Use the references previously cited for instruction.
8. Limit your screen time on all the various digital devices that steal your attention and suck your soul into a miasma of unreality. Remember, the real world of nature is an an analog world.
9. The final litany: Stay away from crowds (Hat tip to Ol Remus). Come out of the cities; You don’t have enough ammo.
10 July 2019
Mountains of Montana
New Ordnance is a grizzled veteran of the early decades of the cold war. After a career in the semi-conductor industry at the heart of the military – industrial complex, he escaped the Matrix and landed in the Rocky Mountains where he was an early adopter of photovoltaics for terrestrial applications and subsequently lived for over thirty years in an off-grid homestead. At the height of the cold war he founded a firm that designed and constructed blast and radiation shelters for private clients.
In an effort to preserve the arts of civilization, New Ordnance writes on topics that encourage individual, family and community initiative in a time of cultural devolution. He is the author of The Atomic Trekker: How I Avoided 9 Fatal Mistakes and Learned to Live Happily in a Radioactive World.