Friday, September 30, 2005

THE GEOLOGY OF NEW ORLEANS

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

I know many Americans pretend to read the Bible but learning from it seems nearly futile. Jesus tried and tried to tell various stories so his listeners could understand simple things. This is probably why he was executed, no?

Anyway, I always loved the "Do not build your house on sand..." story. Guess what? We do that. All the time. Much of America spends a fortune doing exactly that and not on Middle Eastern sand which is rather stable in comparison to the sand we like to build on, we build on sand spits facing the full unrestrained fury of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico where some of the nastiest hurricanes on this planet occur.

Today, DC is full of talk about rebuilding New Orleans. This is insane but then, the news if filled with stories of people's houses burning down in California. If California wasn't a geological/ecological nightmare, the nightmare of our entire population gathering themselves on land that is rapidly subsiding in the other coastal states would look a lot worse but since we are used to thinking stupid, the stupidity there is normal.

The drawing I made above is a very coarse illustration about the Mississippi Valley. Why is is so shallow for so long? Deep sea boats can go far up it, so long as we dredge it. And it is sinking. When the last great shake caused it to subside, it was a huge earthquake 200 years ago. And there will be another one, for it is still sinking. Why is this?
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The geological forces at work are many. One is, the whole earth goes through landmass driving together/landmass splitting apart episodes. Right now, we are in a landmass together episode. This is why Africa is driving into Europe, India is making huge mountains in Asia and Australia is paddling along the Pacific heading into China, causing truly monumental volcano/mountain building activity in both Asia and North and South Americas!

New Orleans is subsiding even faster than the thin crust at the center of our landmass. You see, there is a stretching of the continent there which causes it to fall lower than the volcanic/pushing up mountains out west. Many times in the past, the Mississippi Valley has been underwater. This is why there is so much oil there. The dead organic mass (abiotic oil is idiotic) lay thick upon the sea bottom/swamplands of the Permian period. Unimaginable amounts of organic mass was buried and crushed and liquified over the eons as the ocean filled in/retreated from this part of our continent as it floated about the planet, hither and yon.

We are now pumping that oil...from under New Orleans and all the coastline there. This does two things: it reduces the volume of stuff filling the earth below and it is letting in water from the ocean or worse, we pump water in to force out the thicker oil, ahem. This saturation with water means the soil is wetter, so to speak. Unlike the oil which sat innocently in its substratum, the water easily oozes all over the place, being a much simpler molecule, three atoms in size, and not that big, either, certainly not as complicated as carbon atoms, fewer working parts, so to speak.

New Orleans sits on the very edge of a very steep Continental plate, unlike the East Coast, the deep ocean starts nearly immediately and indeed, pressure from above, traveling from up north, is shoving the loose soil of the Delta into the deep ocean. If you build up the land behind, the pressure moves the edges out into the deeper sea. If we built nothing, it wouldn't matter but if you build huge buildings and lots of seemingly stationary objects on this morass, it all slides south and worse, the big buildings increase the pressure. So as we pump the oil, as we build big stuff, we make things worse.

Worse than that, the Mississippi doesn't want to flow in the direction we want because it is too flat, she prefers to flow due south instead of that dog-leg to New Orleans. Here is a very interesting article about this matter: From Open Source Energy:
During a powerful flood in the late 1950s, the Mississippi River forced its way into the Atchafalaya River and the main channel began to go far to the west of New Orleans. With this flood the City of New Orleans and the ports there were threatened with being cut off from the river. The US Army Corps of Engineers was tasked with attempting to keep the Mississippi River controlled and in its old channel. The “Old River Control Structure” (ORCS) was completed in 1963 to keep 70% of the river in the old channel.
This most excellent must read article covers many points (but not the earthquake issue enough). Here is another good paragraph about oceanic earthquakes:
In fact, as reliably reported in the Hunstville Times on Sunday September 11, 2005, breakage of the levees occurred two days before the arrival of Katrina. (Ref. ) It may have been due to seismic activity, the rhythmic pounding of resonant waves whipped up by hurricanes which precede landfall by up to two days. These resonant waves reached a solid point and cracked it. It was the new segments, made of concrete reinforced with steel, which failed.
As Rita approached, the ground around the same dikes liquidfied, I saw alarming pictures of this. Even posted about this. Huge hurricanes, and Rita was a monster 5 at one point, press down on the crust of the earth and warp everything temporarily just like the oceans warp the crust and keep the planet's atmosphere and core active.

The moon warps and pushes and pulls the oceans more than it does, the crust and this tidal action is also instability, this creates our "living planet" and the very instability of it is why life flourishes, oddly enough. A static planet is what Mars is becoming, dead on nearly every level, or dying rapidly, less and less happens every million years, it is nearly static now.

When the Mississippi changes course, and she must, it is only when not if, New Orleans will sink away forever, even the higher ground, for there will be no more river feed, like all the sand spits we are building on, gone forever, to be replaced by something else as the winds, the moon and tides, earthquakes and meteor strikes relandscape everything for us.

Now about throwing our seeds upon the stones where they won't grow....

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$100 LAPTOPS THAT ARE INDESTRUCTIBLE

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

In the past, I carried stories about how technology has penetrated far into distant, hard to reach places. Cell phones, most famously, are much easier to set up than hard lines. Satellite reaches places that hard wires can't reach, the expense of building and maintaining hard line systems is huge, look at the hurricanes this year!

This is why I am a fan of solar energy and other systems that don't require hard wiring.

The latest entry to this technological revolution is ever cheaper computers but if one doesn't have the energy systems or it is hard to maintain in tropical climates, an outdoors/self energy system computer is a god send and the gods are planning to descend and give the world this great thing.

An Indian businessman who makes a lot of money off of technology discovered that when he installed computers in villages with a little information, the children would figure out how it works within a few hours. This revelation is now being extended to lap tops, making a sturdy, hand cranked self energizing laptop for under $100 is a great revolution for this means nearly everyone in America or other third world countries will be able to buy or own one. Too cheap to steal, so to speak.

I believe every school child should have one. They need to learn to type, hand writing is still used but typing is a much more important skill. All jobs requiring any writing all say, "Can you type fast?" So typing skills should be second nature. People who grew up without computers struggle to interface with it due entirely and only because they can't type fast. I type as fast as I think. But then, I have been playing with computers for over thirty years.

Learning in a large classroom in the third world, when one has one's own "teacher" in one's lap, will accelerate. Even here, it should. Nothing is more boring than being forced to sit through a teacher's droning when one is way ahead of the class or way behind. Computers go at the speed one chooses to go.

And a hunger to communicate? This is huge with computers. Look at the explosion in the number of blogs! My own blog "suffers" thanks to this since I have encouraged everyone who posts here to start their own blogs...because they all write so beautifully and are so interesting! Whoopee! May a billion blogs bloom!

I really am happy about this. Self publishing, intercommunication, access to information despite the government (heh, China's rulers better figure this one out...censorship isn't going to save their asses!), playing online games, seeking data, all of this is the Revolution that matters: the world wide web and the data collection open to humankind will change us all, rapidly. It already is.

I used to be a voice lost in the wilderness but now, I am heard once again across the planet. I note in the data here, people read me all over the place and I read blogs and news from all over the world, myself. This co-jointure of us all across borders and time is important.

We are a power! And we have power! And this new laptop idea is tremendous power! May more breakthroughs like this happen! And I hope to have one for myself, eventually. One I can carry around outside and not worry about losing $3000 if it is broken or stolen.

&spades From the BBC:
Of all the cool, futuristic machines featured on the television series Star Trek, the "replicator" was certainly one of the most useful.

A character simply asked for a cup of tea, and voila - the replicator would make a cuppa.

A machine that can make anything sounds like the stuff of the distant future, but a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) program is making personal fabrication a reality.

Around the world, MIT is helping to build Fabrication, or "Fab" Labs, and they are reaping results.

Haakon Karlsen's farm sits hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle. The tinkle of sheep bells is a constant reminder that humans, and their animals, have carved out a life here for thousands of years.
A must read, dense but well written article from the BBC. It talks about interesting stuff (to me, at least) like putting cell phones on sheep so one can track them and listen in on them---sheep do talk, you know. There is more than one form of "baaa" with them. You can tell if they are scared, or lost or puzzled by something, for example. Heh. Ask my lambies about that!

So, for every bad news, there is great news.

Keep the faith.

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