Fault (geology)

Deep Heat May Have Spawned One of the World’s Deadliest Tsunamis

Sumatra quake
DEADLY DISASTER The quake that ruptured off the coast of Sumatra on December 26, 2004, was one of the deadliest earthquakes in history, mostly because it set off an enormous tsunami that destroyed nearby island communities.

Chemical transformations in minerals deep beneath the seafloor could explain why Indonesia’s 2004 mega-earthquake was unexpectedly destructive, researchers report in the May 26 Science.

The magnitude 9.2 quake and the tsunami that it triggered killed more than 250,000 people, flattened villages, and swept homes out to sea across Southeast Asia. It was one of the deadliest tsunamis in recorded history.

“It raised a whole bunch of questions, because that wasn’t a place in the world where we thought a magnitude 9 earthquake would occur,” says study coauthor Brandon Dugan, a geophysicist at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.

The thick but stable layer of sediment where tectonic plates meet off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra should have limited the power of an earthquake, seismologists had predicted. But instead, this quake was the third-strongest on record worldwide.

Dugan spent two months aboard a boat with 30 other scientists collaborating through the International Ocean Discovery Program. The researchers drilled down 1,500 meters below the seafloor in two places off the coast of Sumatra, extracting narrow cylinders of sediment. This sediment is very slowly moving toward the fault where the 2004 earthquake occurred — a zone where one massive tectonic plate slides over another, pushing that plate downward.

Analyzing how sediment changes with depth can give scientists a snapshot of the geological processes at play near the fault zone.

In particular, the researchers noticed that the deeper they drilled, the lower the salinity of the water surrounding the sediment. Since seawater seeping into the sediment would be salty,…

Fragmentation Isn’t Android’s Fault, It’s the Manufacturers’

It’s 2017, and I still see people criticizing Android for “fragmentation”. This gives Android in general a bad name, and I want to make the facts clear: this isn’t Google or Android’s fault. It’s the fault of your manufacturer.

While this has been a talked about issue for some time, a recent piece from Boy Genius Report got me thinking about it—infuriatingly titled “No iPhone user can even imagine dealing with what Android users have to tolerate”. I want to set the record straight: this type of thinking isn’t just unfair to Android, it’s flat out wrong.

What Is Fragmentation?

Basically, when people talk about fragmentation, they’re referring to the spread of Android versions that are still running on devices “in the wild,” because the adoption rate of new version of Android is much slower than that of iOS. It makes sense, really—there are a handful of iPhones, but hundreds of different Android phones, from a variety of manufacturers, and they don’t all update to the latest version at the same time.

May 2017 Android Distribution numbers

So, when we talk about Android “fragmentation” as a downside compared to iOS, it suggests that there’s an issue with Android, software development, or the update schedule in general. Articles like the one from Boy Genius Report imply that the issue comes from Google, which isn’t the case. Ever since Google purchased Android, the company has been responsible for pushing updates to the platform. And while it was definitely hit and miss in its infancy, we’ve seen Google take a much more structured approach to OS updates for Android in recent years. In fact, it’s almost clockwork now.

But here we are, still acting like Android has an update issue, when that’s just not the case. The primary argument against Android when it comes to updates is the comparison to Apple and the iPhone. “But nearly 80 percent of iPhones are running the latest version of iOS!” I hear people say. But that’s not an argument at all—unless it’s done fairly. Allow me to explain.

iOS Distribution numbers as of Feb 20th 2017.

Comparing Apples to Apples

Basically, Apple produces the iPhone, as well as iOS. It sends updates directly to the iPhone. Apple is solely responsible for updating its own hardware using its own software. It doesn’t work the same way for Android. If you really want a fair comparison, it’s Google hardware/software versus Apple hardware/software. In other words, it’s Pixel/Nexus versus iPhone.

That’s the only real comparison that can be used fairly—it’s an apples to apples comparison, for lack of a better analogy. Google’s official stance on Nexus and Pixel updates is pretty straightforward: these phones get Android version updates for “at least 2 years from when the device first became available on the Google Store” and security updates “for at least 3 years from when the device first became available on the Google Store, or at least 18 months from when the Google Store last sold the device, whichever is longer.“ That’s straight from Google’s mouth.

Google Pixel update periods.

That means under the current rules, three generations of Nexus/Pixel devices are being supported by Google: the Nexus 6, 6P, and 5x, as well as the Pixel and Pixel XL. And yes, the Android ecosystem is bigger than that, but those devices are really just alternative options: Google has just as many phone options as Apple does, and they’re all kept up to date.

By contrast, Apple is actually less transparent with its update timelines and commitments. Five generations of Apple iPhones are running the latest software (iOS 10): iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, and 7 Plus. The writing is on the wall for the iPhone 5, but at the time of writing it’s still being supported so I’m listing it here and…

Deadly New Zealand quake hopscotched across faults

New Zealand road
SHAKE UP A magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit New Zealand last year altered the landscape. The temblor jumped between two faults thought to be too far apart for a quake to cross, new research shows.

A seemingly impossible earthquake that rattled New Zealand last November casts doubt on how well seismologists can forecast quakes involving multiple fault lines.

Retracing the path of the magnitude 7.8 temblor using satellite and seismic data, researchers discovered that the earthquake involved at least 12 major faults and was far more widespread and powerful than predicted by seismic hazard assessments at the time. Such assessments are crucial to designing buildings that can withstand potential earthquakes.

In total, the November 14 quake released pent-up energy along more than 170 kilometers of faults, including faults thought to be too spread out for a rupture to jump from one to the other, the researchers report online March 23 in Science.

“This crazy event showed us just how little we knew,” says study coauthor Ian Hamling, a geophysicist at GNS Science in Avalon, New Zealand. Many current earthquake simulations artificially limit how far a rupture can hop from one fault to another. Those restrictions, Hamling says, should be toned down or even removed. “We need to rethink these complex events that our current understanding just doesn’t accept as a scenario.”

Complex quakes, which involve multiple faults, have been particularly difficult to study, and there is a dearth of data on them, says Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center in Los Angeles. His team recently relaxed restrictions on how…