Was the 2010 Haiti Earthquake triggered by deforestation and the 2008 hurricanes?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:57 PM GMT on December 20, 2010

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Major earthquakes occur when the stress on rocks between two tectonic plates reaches a critical breaking point, allowing the earth to move along the connecting fault. While the slow creep of the tectonic plates makes earthquakes inevitable along major faults, the timing and exact location of the quake epicenter can be influenced by outside forces pushing down on Earth's crust. For example, the sloshing of water into the Eastern Pacific during El Niño events has been linked to magnitude 4, 5, and 6 earthquakes on the seafloor below, due to the extra weight of water caused by local sea level rise. Sea level rise due to rapid melting of Earth's ice sheets could also potentially trigger earthquakes, though it is unknown at what melting rate such an effect might become significant.


Figure 1. Google Earth image of Haiti taken November 8, 2010, showing the capital of Port-Au-Prince and the mountainous region to its west where the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake was. Note the brown color of the mountains, where all the vegetation has been stripped off, leaving bare slopes subject to extreme erosion. Heavy rains in recent years have washed huge amounts of sediment into the Leogane Delta to the north.


Figure 2. Zoom-in view of the Leogane Delta region of Figure 1, showing the large expansion in the Delta's area between 2002 and 2010. High amounts of sediments have been eroded from Haiti's deforested mountains and deposited in the Delta. Recent expansion of the river channel due to runoff from Hurricane Tomas' rains is apparent in the 2010 image. Image credit: Google Earth, Digital Globe, GeoEye.

At last week's American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting last week in San Francisco, Shimon Wdowinsky of the University of Miami proposed a different method whereby unusual strains on the crust might trigger an earthquake. In a talk titled, Triggering of the 2010 Haiti earthquake by hurricanes and possibly deforestation , Wdowinsky studied the stresses on Earth's crust over the epicenter of the mighty January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake that killed over 200,000 people. This quake was centered in a mountainous area of southwest Haiti that has undergone severe deforestation—over 98% of the trees have been felled on the mountain in recent decades, allowing extreme erosion to occur during Haiti's frequent heavy rainfall events. Since 1975, the erosion rate in these mountains has been 6 mm/year, compared to the typical erosion rate of less than 1 mm/yr in forested tropical mountains. Satellite imagery (Figure 2) reveals that the eroded material has built up significantly in the Leogane Delta to the north of the earthquake's epicenter. In the 2008 hurricane season, four storms--Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike--dumped heavy rains on the impoverished nation. The bare, rugged hillsides let flood waters rampage into large areas of the country, killing over 1,000, destroying 22,702 homes, and damaging another 84,625. About 800,000 people were affected--8% of Haiti's total population. The flood wiped out 70% of Haiti's crops, resulting in dozens of deaths of children due to malnutrition in the months following the storms. Damage was estimated at over $1 billion, the costliest natural disaster in Haitian history. The damage amounted to over 5% of the country's $17 billion GDP, a staggering blow for a nation so poor. Tragically, the hurricanes of 2008 may have set up Haiti for an ever larger disaster. Wdowinsky computed that the amount of mass eroded away from the mountains over the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake was sufficient to cause crustal strains capable of causing a vertically-oriented slippage along a previously unknown fault. This type of motion is quite unusual in this region, as most quakes in Haiti tend to be of the strike-slip variety, where the tectonic plates slide horizontally past each other. The fact that the 2010 Haiti quake occurred along a vertically moving fault lends support to the idea that the slippage was triggered due to mass stripped off the mountains by erosion over the epicenter, combined with the extra weight of the extra sediment deposited in the Leogane Delta clamping down on the northern portion of the fault. Wdowinsky gave two other examples in Taiwan where earthquakes followed several months after the passage of tropical cyclones that dumped heavy rains over mountainous regions. His theory of tropical cyclone-triggered quakes deserves consideration, and provides another excellent reason to curb excessive deforestation!


Figure 3. Two of 2008's four tropical cyclones that ravaged Haiti: Tropical Storm Hanna (right) and Hurricane Gustav (left). Image taken at 10:40 am EDT September 1, 2008. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Christmas in Haiti
Portlight.org will brighten the lives of hundreds of kids in Haiti this week, thanks to their successful Christmas in Haiti fundraiser. Portlight raised $1800 to buy toys, candies, and other assorted goodies. The shipment left Charleston last week, and will arrive in time for Christmas. Thanks to everyone who helped support this worthy effort!

Jeff Masters

Stuff for Haiti (Portlight)
Stuff for Haiti
Ms. Mae (Portlight)
Ms. Mae

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Wow models keep on keeping this potential weekend storm going.. But GFS keeps it down.. If it stays consistent then we could have some huge problems in a lot of spots.. I wonder if the models stay consistent wednesday night and into thursday morning..
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
In 2009, Hansen was awarded the 2009 Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Meteorological Society, for his "outstanding contributions to climate modeling, understanding climate change forcings and sensitivity, and for clear communication of climate science in the public arena.


And don't forget this article about Hansen:

http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/18439

"...Police in West Virginia arrested about two dozen demonstrators Tuesday, including renowned climate scientist James Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah and former West Virginia Congressman Ken Hechler..."

Trespassing.

Or this one:

http://ran.org/content/more-100-arrested-white-house-demanding-end-mountaintop-removal

"...More than 100 people were arrested today during Appalachia Rising, the largest national protest to end mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. Arrests included Appalachian residents; retired coal miners; renowned climate scientist, James Hansen; and faith leaders. After a march from Freedom Plaza and a rally at Lafayette Park, more than 100 stage a sit-in in front of the White House to demand President Obama follow his own science and end mountaintop mining. The likely charge is obstruction..."

Protesting against his boss, the POTUS.

Nope, not biased at all...
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974. Skyepony (Mod)
Dang.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 174 Comments: 38180
973. Skyepony (Mod)
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 174 Comments: 38180
972. Skyepony (Mod)
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Residents in northern Arizona are busy stacking sandbags and building dirt berms to control the flood waters that have swept away four homes in a retirement community.

The Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District Chief Jeff Hunt says none of the wood-framed homes was inhabited, although a man was getting ready to move into one of them.

Hunt says about a dozen other homes in the two communities are still in danger of being destroyed by water that has washed away 200 feet of roadway.

Forecasters say a northwestern Arizona weather station recorded at least 10 inches of rain Tuesday, while rainfall ranged from 10 to 14 inches in southwestern Utah.

Emergency orders remain in place in some Utah, Nevada and Arizona counties.
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971. Skyepony (Mod)
MichaelSTL~ Bering Sea & Sea of Okhotsk is losing ice too. That had been kinda stable the last 2 years.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 174 Comments: 38180
"...Right now, the United States, with less than five percent of global population, produces 20 percent of global warming pollution..."

...while the rest of the world (95% of the global population), provides the other 80%...

Yep, it's a global problem for sure.
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969. Skyepony (Mod)
The Mayor of St. George, Utah, has declared a state of emergency in the area due to heavy rain and runoff causing the Virgin River and Santa Clara Rivers to flood. Two Utah towns near the south entrance of Zion National Park have been evacuated amid fears that Trees Ranch Dam may fail on the Virgin River. Back in 1988 the Quail Creek Dam failed, and officials are comparing that situation to this current one. "That produced a rush or a burst of water that was about 60 cubic feet per second," says Marc Mortensen, Washington County Public Information Officer. "We're anticipating that if this reservoir, which is called the Trees Ranch Reservoir, if that bursts it will produce a vast surge of 131,000 cubic feet per second. So more than double the Quail Creek Dam burst produced." As of Tuesday night, Kirk Best, regional engineer with the Utah Division of Water Rights, says that the Trees Ranch Dam is stable. Suspected leaking from the earthen dam was actually just saturated soil on the outside. Officials say residents in Rockville and Virgin have been evacuated. The national park has also been closed. Guests at the Zion Lodge and campers have been evacuated. The Washington County sheriff's office says flooding wiped out one of two bridges to the southern Utah town of Gunlock, more than 40 miles east of Zion, and several roads are closed. Washington County spokesman Marc Mortensen state Route 9 is reopened. A state of emergency remains in place for Washington County. The National Weather Service says that more rain is expected tonight. The Virgin and Santa Clara rivers are expected to crest again Wednesday afternoon. St. George City Officials ask area residents to use care around waterways that may be compromised and not safe. The public is also advised to limit contact with waters in the Virgin River due to possible fecal contamination from sewer capacity overflow from runoff. Runoff water entering the sewer lines has caused an overflow in capacity resulting in possible release of fecal material into the Virgin River from the Santa Clara River Confluence south.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 174 Comments: 38180
Quoting Grothar:


Hey, Canes. Did you know that 73.2% of statistics are made up on the spot.


Of course, that's only true 41.93% of the time.

The other 59.07% of the time, the statistics actually mean something...
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I'm out too. Merry Christmas!
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Good night, all. In another 6 hours my alarm clock will do its best to piss me off. It will probably succeed in doing so.

If it is cold, move inside and turn on the heater. If it is hot, move inside and turn on the AC. If you have a fan on your roof, point it EAST! That is the best weather advice I know how to give.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year.

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
iam not sure what happen it was like the blog page went in to a twilght zone but its ok now or maybe it was a time warp not sure


I guess so. Sometimes I think the 1's and 0's think they are a ten?
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Quoting JRRP:
ITCZ is completly south of 10 north now
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963. JRRP
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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


True, but wouldn't you have to add the url of the blog to your post?
iam not sure what happen it was like the blog page went in to a twilght zone but its ok now or maybe it was a time warp not sure
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54381
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54381
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Thanks, Idaho. I just state what I believe should be obvious. I have been told that I am the master of the obvious. .... I wonder what they meant by that? LOL How have you been doing? Are you staying out of the weather, as best as you can?

KOG, are the fans on a swivel mount? I would hate to think you would have to shift your roof to redirect the fans. Break out the compass, if you would. Due East should be fine or maybe a little ESE? ...Please? I'll get you some new swim fins?
Mastering the obvious is a good start. Unfortunately, few people achieve even that.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


951. Some1Has2BtheRookie 5:59 AM GMT on December 22, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its like when ya posted the vid from tube you also had the entire blog paged of comments quoted within your post


Wow. I don't think I could do that even if I tried.




it can be done its just code


True, but wouldn't you have to add the url of the blog to your post?
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
Hi Rookie, I think you hit the mark with your post also.


Thanks, Idaho. I just state what I believe should be obvious. I have been told that I am the master of the obvious. .... I wonder what they meant by that? LOL How have you been doing? Are you staying out of the weather, as best as you can?

KOG, are the fans on a swivel mount? I would hate to think you would have to shift your roof to redirect the fans. Break out the compass, if you would. Due East should be fine or maybe a little ESE? ...Please? I'll get you some new swim fins?
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951. Some1Has2BtheRookie 5:59 AM GMT on December 22, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its like when ya posted the vid from tube you also had the entire blog paged of comments quoted within your post


Wow. I don't think I could do that even if I tried.




it can be done its just code
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54381
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
no snow in the city surrounding areas are socked in been cold and going to get colder hopefully the luck holds on the snow but i doubt it
Keep the fans going! It has been toasty warm here 26 f right now....on second thought, I don't want to be paying $10 for a gallon of O.J. so maybe turn them down a hair.:^)
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
Hi Keep, how is the winter panning out for you guys so far?
no snow in the city surrounding areas are socked in been cold and going to get colder hopefully the luck holds on the snow but i doubt it
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Hi Rookie, I think you hit the mark with your post also.
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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Wow. I don't think I could do that even if I tried.

Hi, KOG! I am glad you directed those fans away from Texas for awhile. Those of us on the Gulf Coast live here for the mild winters and kinda like it that way. I don't blame you for wanting to evacuate some of the cold air around you, but doesn't Hawaii need a little cooling off? Better yet, I hear the Artic is a little low on cold air right now. Do your fans have a reverse on them?
only forward and there going south
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Hi Keep, how is the winter panning out for you guys so far?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its like when ya posted the vid from tube you also had the entire blog paged of comments quoted within your post


Wow. I don't think I could do that even if I tried.
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its like when ya posted the vid from tube you also had the entire blog paged of comments quoted within your post


Hi, KOG! I am glad you directed those fans away from Texas for awhile. Those of us on the Gulf Coast live here for the mild winters and kinda like it that way. I don't blame you for wanting to evacuate some of the cold air around you, but doesn't Hawaii need a little cooling off? Better yet, I hear the Artic is a little low on cold air right now. Do your fans have a reverse on them?
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54381
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its like when ya posted the vid from tube you also had the entire blog paged of comments quoted within your post


Thanks, I was using a browser called Opera.... Seems like I'll switch back to Firefox....
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Can you Please explain what went wrong???
its like when ya posted the vid from tube you also had the entire blog paged of comments quoted within your post
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54381
"
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Can you Please explain what went wrong???
Hi sunline, I just see the video but when I clicked quote on Keeps post it grabbed everything off the page so i just backed out....weird!
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
The private sector and/or corporations are businesses, and their goal is to make money. Goverment's job is to run the country. If you run goverment on a business model (to make money, or at least spend less) it is inconsistant with the goals of governing a country. Goverment is supposed to enable it's citizens to excel and have opportunities and success. The business model goverment is not concerned with the welfare of it's people but rather the economics of how it operates. These are different goals and the reason why successful business people often do poorly in politics.


+1,000
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Quoting presslord:


well....the legal concept of corporate personhood is well established....and corporations don't create and run themselves...


You're right. Corporations are made up of people. Some of them are felons. Some of them are minors. Some of them are foreigners. Some of them have foreign investors. Some of them have foreign governments invested in them. When the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the right of involvement in our election processes through campaign contributions then they also gave these rights to PEOPLE that have NO legal rights to our election processes, until this decision was made. Do you still feel, "all warm and fuzzy inside" knowing this?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
928. sunlinepr why have you quoted the entire blog page


Can you Please explain what went wrong???
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I guess I should have mentioned that CO2 dissolves in water to form carbonic acid, lowering the pH (increasing acidity).
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Quoting Seastep:
Just a note on the topic of capitalism and big industry.

The biggest industry in the world is government.

Live in the US and it consumes over $12,000 per citizen (understated vs. what actually is spent, but it's the FY 2011 budget). That's not per household, that's per citizen.

If, say, you have a family of four, that's over $48,000. And they just get to take it, regardless of the quality and value of the product.

Think about it.

I choose corporations.


Here I was, minding my own business, and you had to say something like this to draw me out of the woodwork.

Really? You would choose corporations over government?
Name one corporation that cares a darn about what condition the road in front of your house is in and is willing to repair it. Certainly you will find road construction companies lining up to get the tax payers' dollars to do the work. Other than that, they could care less about the condition of your road.

Name me one corporation that will come put out a fire at your house. Yes, there are volunteer fire companies in some areas, but no corporation will volunteer to come to your aid should your house catch on fire.

Name me one corporation that will come to your call should your house get broken into. Certainly you can pay a security service that will CALL the cops for you, if they get an alarm. You can even spend all you want for a private security company to LIVE at your home, if you wish. They, however, will not do so unless you pay them to do so. No corporation will do this on their own.

What corporation will defend this country against our enemies? Certainly we have contract security forces that work in our defense. More correctly put, in a corporation's paid protection of their resources. Even then, they can leave anytime they wish when the heat gets to be too much for them. All they have to say is, "You aren't paying me enough for this!". - On a side note, one of Rome's reasons for failure was its dependence on foreign armies that had no vested interest in keeping Rome safe. Sleep sound tonight. The Mexican army has your back??? Really? This is not a slam against Mexico, it is just that Mexico has no vested interest in fighting our wars for us.

Name me one corporation that would come to your aid should you or your family be threatened, murdered, raped or have any other crime committed against you and your family?

What corporation could care anything about you or your family or this nation, if they were not paid to do this? Guess what. They can also quit anytime they do not want to do it and leave you and your family wondering what you are going to do next.

Governments have many problems that would include ours. Governments of a democracy are elected by the citizens. Corporate leaders are selected by the Board of Directors.

One citizen gets one vote, in our democracy/republic. One share gets one vote in a corporation. You have 10,000 shares? Great! You also have 10,000 votes in that corporation.

Governments have a vested interest in the voters. Corporations have a vested interest in their bottom line and the ONLY voters that count to them are the MAJOR shareholders.

Yes, corporations are needed in a capitalistic society, such as ours. They will never have a vested interest in being the government but, they will always have a vested interest in influencing the government. Yet, we the citizens, do not have the right to vote the corporate leaders out of office. Do you REALLY like that set up? That is such a sweet deal, for the corporations. Their only concern is to make money and they could care less about you, me or anyone else that does not make them money.

BTW, if you are one that is in the camp that believes government should give you back the tax dollars because it is YOUR money, then I will ask how you will feel about giving your company back your paycheck because it THEIR money and not yours. They made the money. Why should they be forced to pay you any of it?

Have you ever heard of Thomas Jefferson? Did you ever try to heed his warnings about government and those that would try to influence government?

Governments are not perfect. That includes our own. Our government has survived all types of adversities over the past 244 years. Can you nane me one corporation with that kind of record? How many corporations have failed over the past 244 years?

I agree. Choosing corporations over governments seems like a "no brainer", until you actually use your brain and think it through.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Oceans failing the acid test, U.N. says

The chemistry of the world's oceans is changing at a rate not seen for 65 million years, with far-reaching implications for marine biodiversity and food security, according to a new United Nations study released Thursday.

scientists say there may well be winners and losers as acidification doesn't affect all sea creatures in the same way.

Ocean Ph and CO2 still has some big unknowns. Its really changing rapidly in the arctic.

That is a very good example of consequences that are unforseen by most. Increasing acidity in the oceans has a detrimental affect on critters with calcareous shells which includes many corals, shellfish, and planktonic critters like diatoms.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
please remove that post 928


Seems like I have problems posting Youtube??? What's the effect on your Screen???
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
CCR is always good listening.




..esp if yas 'Born on da Bayou"..
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Unfortunately the only green things China strongly invests in are those slated for export.


Just look at how many coal power plants they bring live every week. Then look at their track record of telling the truth. Just sayin, folks boast of their green and they are not such.

Couldn't resist :)

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please remove that post 928
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54381
928. sunlinepr why have you quoted the entire blog page
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54381
You all may have never heard of this:



Night y'all.
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we come as many yet are only one
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"
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Sorry... Gone... I used my "made in China without Coal" wireless mouse
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:




Great tune, canes!

You have mail.


Thanks, and I sent a reply.
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.