Monthly WARP – June

I made a New Year promise to include a regular slot in my blog for 2014, called my ‘monthly WARP’. This is based on an acronym where the ‘W’ stands for a web resource, the ‘A’ for an app, the ‘R’ for a reading resource, and the ‘P’ for a photograph or image.
My sixth WARP – for the month of June – consists of the following:


ScreenHunter_02 Jun. 22 15.54The ‘Information is Beautiful’ web site has been put together by author, writer and designer David McCandless. He has a passion for visualising information – facts, data, ideas, subjects, issues, statistics, questions – all with the minimum of words.
McCandless’ site supports geography teachers by providing resources (and ideas) that can be used to help students make sense of the world.
Infographics can be purchased online for download – at $5 some of them are really good value for large classroom posters – and there are always a few freebies highlighted that might be useful in the classroom. For example, this PDF titled ‘How Many Gigatons of CO2?’ is currently available.

ScreenHunter_03 Jun. 22 15.55This web site is a great tool to get the creative juices of students flowing. It allows you to build up a storyboard from a wide range of stick characters, backgrounds, text boxes etc. There is a free ‘lite’ version, and an educational version sells for under $10 per month. Finished strips can be saved as Powerpoint presentations, image collections etc. If you are looking for something with a little more sophistication than tools like Bitstrips, Comic Life, Pixton and the like – this may be worth a look.


Disaster Alert

ScreenHunter_01 Jun. 23 15.22Most of the apps that I have highlighted in recent blog WARPS have been generic apps that have a use across all subject areas. This month I have picked some with a specific use in the geography (or science?) classroom. ‘Disaster Alert’ provides users with near real-time access to data on active hazards globally—representing avalanches, cyclones, landslides, tsunami, volcanoes (and many others) on a Google map background. By clicking on a particular disaster, access is instantly provided to further information, large scale maps, and the ability to add different layers in a GIS format. Great for lesson starters and also for more detailed probing into particular disaster issues.


milliondeathquake_musson_000This month’s reading material is ‘Million Death Quake’ by Roger Musson. In this book, seismologist Roger Musson takes the reader on an informative journey through everything you need to know about earthquakes. He explores how the powerful geological forces that drive earthquakes and tsunamis were first discovered. He explains why places such as California and Japan are hot spots and why rogue earthquakes can potentially strike in unlikely places such as Charleston, South Carolina, and Hong Kong. The real danger of earthquakes isn’t the ones we are expecting – it’s the ones we aren’t. Surveying the future of earthquake prediction, Musson breaks down the science behind one of the world’s most terrifying natural disasters and shows how amazing feats of engineering are now making our cities earthquake-proof. Highlighting hot spots around the world from Mexico City to New York City, this is a compelling look at nature at its fiercest.

Some extracts:
“If I look at the global list of deaths from earthquakes in the last 400 years, a remarkable picture emerges; fully 85% are concentrated in a roughly east-west zone running from Portugal to Japan. This area accounts for a mere 12% of the Earth’s surface, but with a combination of strong earthquakes, high population and poor housing, it forms the world’s greatest confluence of hazard, exposure and vulnerability.” (pp 17-18)

“The northernmost coast of Sumatra, around the city of Bandeh Aceh, was swamped almost immediately after the earthquake. North of Sumatra, the fault runs almost north-south, and the wave launched eastward, straight at the tourist resorts of Thailand. But the wave was travelling westward as well, towards more tourist beaches on the coasts of Sri Lanka and southern India. The wave travelled straight across the Indian Ocean at high speed, arriving about two hours after the earthquake. The scenes of horror that had already unfolded in Thailand were repeated on the other side of the Bay of Bengal.
Except on one beach. There, as elsewhere, people noticed that the sea was starting to go out. It was like a low tide but more rapid, and the water went out a long way. This was puzzling to everyone except an English schoolgirl named Tilly Smith, who was enjoying a tropical Christmas with her parents. She remembered from her geography classes something called a tsunami, a destructive wave that sometimes accompanies earthquakes, and that sometimes before a tsunami strikes the sea recedes for no obvious reason.
Well, the sea was receding when it plainly had no cause to. When you learn about exotic things with Japanese names in geography class, you don’t ever expect to encounter them yourself, especially when your school is in England. But what other explanation could there be? So she told her parents that really, this was probably not just some inexplicable thing that was happening, but that they were actually in a lot of danger. Fortunately, her parents believed her and started yelling at people to clear the beach.
Sure enough, a little while later the tsunami rolled in – over a deserted beach.” (pp 123-124)

“The magnitude of the 1906 San Francisco quake was just below 8, but let us round it up to 8 for the sake of argument. At some point one can expect a recurrence – a similarly sized earthquake that will break more or less the same length of fault as ruptured in 1906. Current opinion amongst seismologists is that such a repeat earthquake may be due around 2030 – but don’t put this on your calendar, for the uncertainties are large.
One could argue along this line: In about 20 years’ time the strain that has built up since 1906 will be released in a magnitude 8 earthquake that will do a lot of damage. To stop that, we need to dissipate that strain energy in advance. Smaller earthquakes are less damaging than larger ones, so if we can release the energy in a series of controlled smaller earthquakes, we can prevent the larger earthquake from ever happening.
In theory this might be possible, although its hard to know exactly what would happen if engineers just started pumping water into bits of the San Andreas. But let us suppose that problem is solved. Let us suppose that a way could be found to know in advance that if you pumped X million litres exactly here, here and here, you could say precisely what magnitude earthquake would happen as a result – would that solve the problem?
The crunch is the way energy translates into magnitude, as I discussed earlier (in chapter 5). To use up all the energy that makes up a magnitude 8 earthquake, you would need the equivalent of 30 magnitude 7 earthquakes. Remember that the Haiti earthquake was a 7; that is how much shaking a 7 can cause. Do you really want to face 30 of those in Northern California during the next 20 years? So let’s opt for magnitude 6 instead. Now we need 900 of them to do the job, strung out across the 450 km or so from Shelter Cove to San Juan Bautista. That’s a lot of earthquakes – and even a magnitude 6 can cause damage. With a target of 900 quakes in 20 years, one would need roughly one a week to dissipate all that energy. Would people tolerate that?” (pp 150-151)


This month, I offer some rock formations from Tenerife:




About devongeography

Head of Geography and Assistant Vice Principal at South Molton Community College, North Devon. Exeter Chiefs supporter!
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