Friday, May 04, 2018

Are They Hiring Geyser Technicians?

     Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano erupted yesterday, in one of the inevitable-but-when events that characterize the relationship between the people who live there and the ground beneath their feet; a telling line from one of the affected residents was that he knew it would someday happen when he moved to the area fourteen years before.  Volcanoes aren't good neighbors but for some people, the appeal of living in a tropical paradise outweighs the risk of having to walk away.  The island's volcanoes are, generally, a disaster you can escape afoot and often, an industrious person with a wheelbarrow could get most of their belongings away, too; living comfortably as I do in a city that could find itself in sorry shape if the New Madrid fault* decided to let go again, I haven't any room to criticize Hawaiians for living on the edge of potentially lava-spewing lands.

     CBS, on the other hand, has lost their thesaurus, or perhaps it has slipped the leash.  In reporting the eruption, they delivered this gem:   

     "Volcano officials said they couldn't predict how long Thursday's eruption might last."

     I've been looking and I can't find any executive-level members of the management of Kilauea Volcano; the place doesn't even seem to have a press office!  The island is well awash in vulcanologists; the U.S. Geological Survey is all over it and they even have a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staffed with highly qualified geophysicists and geologists and managers and techs and janitors and so on.  But volcano officials?  Not a one.  It's almost as if the things were a natural phenomenon!

     I'm tempted to regard this as an example of the actual unconscious bias in the news business: the notion that if there's something happening, someone must be in charge of it.
* In looking that up, I encountered the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone, much closer to home.  Not terribly comforting -- and don't get too comfortable where you are, either.  This beautiful planet is a dangerous place.


JayNola said...

New Madrid is bad news for anyone within a 1000 miles if there is another event like that one. One of those things you hope you don't get caught up in, like meteorites and super volcanoes.

fillyjonk said...

Seems to me another problem with New Madrid - unlike San Andreas or the fault near Tokyo - is there's been no real effort to build earthquake-damage-limiting buildings (I don't think there's any truly "earthquake proof" building). Supposedly you can still see evidence of "sand boils" from the 1812 one still on the ground in rural southern Illinois and Kentucky...

Then again, I live in Tornado Alley. (And tornadoes do scare the crap out of me)

Will said...

Does your home (and auto!) insurance cover earthquake damage? If it does, might there be a discount for doing some of the structural bolting and strapping that is done in the CA 'quake areas?

If you're not covered, or can't get it, might it be worthwhile to look into the prep work anyway? Granted, you might not want to be the only house on your street that is not tagged as "unfit for habitation" for replacement purposes. Maybe. Then again, having a home that is still usable might be a good thing, when half the city isn't.

It may be that it can't be made salvageable, that the expected/potential 'quake WILL flatten everything in your area. That 1811 'quake shifted rivers miles away in the blink of an eye, pretty much. It was felt in NYFC! It's an interesting scenario to deal with.

Montana said...

The best part about living the shadow of the Yellowstone Caldera? If it goes off, I don't have to worry about leaving any loved ones behind.

Roberta X said...

Will, I can afford to keep the house payments up. Barely.

Jerry said...

Hi Roberta,

I grew about 100 miles from New Madrid. The geological record says we're way past due for another big one. I'm no geologist but fracking seems to be associated with triggering small earthquakes. As always, correlation is not causation. I've often wondered if fracking wouldn't help to relieve the stresses. A number of small earthquakes is far superior to a big one.


Zendo Deb said...

Will, Having lived in both earthquake country and hurricane county I can say, NO, your insurance does not cover either, unless you buy a VERY expensive special policy. Same with floods. Unless you have a specific flood insurance policy, you are not covered.

When I left California (decades ago), earthquake insurance was about $1000 per month, with at least a $10,000 deductible. Not very many people had it. Hurricane insurance wasn't that expensive when I had real estate in Florida, but by the time I had moved onto my boat, people would occasionally talk about how expensive it had gotten. For reasons only a politician can understand, the federal .gov subsidizes flood insurance, so it is comparatively cheap.