Magnitude 8.2 Earthquake off Coast of Southern Mexico
September 7, 2017 10:58 PM   Subscribe

The earthquake occurred near Chiapas and is expected to accompany 3m tsunami waves along the coast of Mexico, with smaller waves expected to hit Latin American countries and across the Pacific. Occurring at a depth of 33km, the earthquake was felt hundreds of miles away in Mexico City. Reports are still coming in.
posted by darkstar (38 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by limeonaire at 11:09 PM on September 7, 2017


CNN report:
It struck off the Pacific Coast 74 miles (120 kilometers) southwest of Tres Picos, Mexico, which is 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City.

"The shaking along the coast of Chiapas at this point is estimated to be very strong to severe," Pursely told CNN. "I would expect damage along the coast of Chiapas."
posted by darkstar at 11:10 PM on September 7, 2017


From Mexico City: That was scary as fuck, but it seems no one was hurt.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:10 PM on September 7, 2017 [20 favorites]


Here's live tv coverage from Mexico City.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:12 PM on September 7, 2017




Remember when we all thought 2016 was a bad year? Like a really, really horrible year?

So young. So naive.
posted by Ducks or monkeys at 11:15 PM on September 7, 2017 [28 favorites]


Video of the Angel of Independence rocking back and forth.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:20 PM on September 7, 2017 [11 favorites]


CNN live reports coming in: at least two fatalities; depth estimate increased to 43 miles; power out in some areas; Chiapas Governor cancels schools tomorrow.
posted by darkstar at 12:03 AM on September 8, 2017


concentrate on your breathing
posted by philip-random at 12:04 AM on September 8, 2017




Green "earthquake lightning" visible over Mexico City before & during the quake. Earthquake lightning explained.
posted by scalefree at 12:58 AM on September 8, 2017 [14 favorites]


Fatalities now at least five, expected to be significantly more.
posted by darkstar at 1:45 AM on September 8, 2017


That "earthquake lightning" is definitely power transformers blowing up from being shaken or overloaded until they short out.

I've seen those lights in three different quakes, and it's super eerie. I remember seeing them during the Northridge Quake. It doesn't take much for a transformer to get jostled enough to arc out and ignite the copper windings and oil bath in the can or box. Sometimes they don't even need direct shaking, just overloading and cascade failure.

During the Northridge quake I was helping tear down and pack up from live dance party DJ gig we were broadcasting on community radio. We didn't even feel the quake from where we were in south Orange County. We just saw the whole sky light up and strobe green over the whole SoCal basin from about Newport Beach to Palos Verdes to Hollywood Hills.

It was so bright and pervasive we weren't sure if war broke out or we were being invaded by aliens or nukes were going off or what for a good thirty seconds until I realized I had a portable radio in our remote broadcast kit and turned it on to an AM news station.

And, yes, they make bright cones and beams of light like that. We're talking about coils of copper wire turning into ultra-bright copper plasma and vapor, often with a bunch of transformer oil. The prolonged plasma arcs of the coils focus beams of light in various directions, and they can project beams of bright green light over long distances depending on the angle of the coils as they're failing. This light can further be focused or masked by the steel canisters and containers blocking parts of the plasma arc, or even augmented if the steel canister ignites with the internal coils.

I do agree that some kind of earthquake lights might be a thing from some kind of geological effect like large scale piezo effect discharges, and there's some evidence of this, but that video isn't it. That's all green copper vapor discharge light.

Also, What the fucking fuck, 2017? All we need now is a couple of volcanoes, an actual plague of locusts or frogs or something and maybe raining blood.
posted by loquacious at 1:58 AM on September 8, 2017 [24 favorites]


mika mckinnon differs...follow this thread
Earthquake lights have moved from myth to phenomena thanks to widespread video. Something about big quakes can ionize the atmosphere.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:09 AM on September 8, 2017 [3 favorites]




Hurricanes May Cause Earthquakes
I just heard a few minutes ago on a podcast that the weight of the flood waters from Harvey caused the earth's crust to flex downwards at least 2 cm.
posted by xyzzy at 3:27 AM on September 8, 2017 [7 favorites]


If someone were on, for instance, Easter Island for science reasons, they're too far away for the tsunami to be a thing, right?

Jesus god, this year. It's like the world is ending. Not like Chiapas doesn't have any other challenges, either.
posted by Frowner at 4:38 AM on September 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


> All we need now is a couple of volcanoes, an actual plague of locusts or frogs or something and maybe raining blood.
Locusts are go
posted by stonepharisee at 4:42 AM on September 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


If someone were on, for instance, Easter Island for science reasons, they're too far away for the tsunami to be a thing, right?

That really depends on the event....recall the 2004 tsunami killed people on the west coast of Africa. That said, I don't think this one is anywhere near that bad.
posted by thelonius at 4:47 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


Good god, @darkstar can't you post something uplifting? I'm getting some kind of post fatigue. Let's hope the ensuing waves don't interact badly with Irma or Jose. All of Latin America in my thoughts.
posted by cyclotronboy at 5:12 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


Mexico city is built on a lakebed, which is bad news (See "preface" in wiki of '85 earthquake)
posted by lalochezia at 5:15 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


The poor media. So many natural disasters, so little front-page space.
posted by Melismata at 5:58 AM on September 8, 2017


Good god, @darkstar can't you post something uplifting?

That's Johnny Wallflower's gig. Except for when Nega-Wallflower sneaks in a posts about wasps building nests inside babies or something, but mostly soothing, yeah?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:14 AM on September 8, 2017 [6 favorites]


Frowner, here is the current warning; I don't see Easter Island mentioned
posted by thelonius at 6:16 AM on September 8, 2017


If someone were on, for instance, Easter Island for science reasons, they're too far away for the tsunami to be a thing, right?

The current tsunami risk is for, essentially, all of the Pacific. But, the risk for most areas outside of coastal Mexico is minimal (less than 0.3m above tide for Hawaii, Australia, Russia, China, Chile; 0.3m-1m for American Samoa, Fiji, El Salvador, New Zealand). Waves of greater than 3m above tide level are possible along the coast of Mexico.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu says no risk of tsunami for Hawaii. Chile says no risk of tsunami for Chile coasts (doesn't specifically mention Easter Island though).
posted by melissasaurus at 6:24 AM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


So was there a Tsunami? Its been most of a day. I would have thought the Tsunami wouldn't take that long to travel 100kms to shore.
posted by mary8nne at 7:00 AM on September 8, 2017


Good god, @darkstar can't you post something uplifting?

I know. It's ironic, because I've been brooding for three days over an FPP on the FDA's first ever approved gene therapy to cure a type of cancer, and working up another one on how wild dogs sneeze to vote on pack behavior. I delayed the first because it seemed too wonky and narrow and the latter was just posted by someone else.

So all I got for my last few posts are a nuclear arms test, an earthquake, and Trump, Trump, Trump. :(
posted by darkstar at 7:12 AM on September 8, 2017 [12 favorites]


From what I'm reading, the tsunami waves are expected to be relatively small outside of Mexico because there wasn't much vertical movement in the earthquake, even though it was of large magnitude otherwise, so that's a good thing.
posted by darkstar at 7:14 AM on September 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


So was there a Tsunami? Its been most of a day. I would have thought the Tsunami wouldn't take that long to travel 100kms to shore.

The latest report, lists the recordings for the tsunami waves observed thus far; the ETA for the initial wave for farther out areas is from 14:22UTC in Kiribati [10:22am in NY] to 21:55UTC in Cape Adare, Antarctica [5:55pm in NY]. A tsunami wave of 0.18m was recorded on Maui about an hour ago. The highest recording so far was in Salina Cruz - 1.01m at 6:35am UTC.

Note that the initial wave may not be the largest wave and aftershocks can also trigger tsunamis (though usually they aren't strong enough).

A couple twitter accounts:
@SSNMexico - Servicio Sismológico Nacional
@pcivilchiapas - Secretaría de Protección Civil de Chiapas
@Luis_Manuel_GM - Luis Manuel Garcia, Secretario de Protección Civil en Chiapas
posted by melissasaurus at 8:32 AM on September 8, 2017


I'm gonna have to go lay down.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:08 AM on September 8, 2017


Here, have a paper bag.
posted by loquacious at 9:23 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


Has anyone seen a diagram of the fault movement?
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:13 AM on September 8, 2017


mika mckinnon differs...follow this thread

I've rewatched the video a couple of times, and most if not all of it still looks like green copper plasma arc flashes.

I do agree that earthquake lights are very likely a real thing that's not well understood or documented (like lightning sprites) but I don't think this video is scientific proof of them, or that there would be so many of them corresponding specifically with an urban, populated area when the epicenter for the quake itself was dozens/hundreds of miles away out to sea.

Show me a clear video of this phenomenon happening in a clear sky and far away from a city filled with thousands and thousands of transformers and powerline poles and we'll talk.

The problem with light from unrestrained plasma arcs (or even controlled ones like a welding arc) is that you get some very strange lighting and lensing effects that can throw very intense and bright beams of light for miles. You can see cones of light in the clouds that would correspond to the tilt, angle and failure mode of a given transformer coil. That source of light could be several horizontal miles away from the cloud it's lighting up, it's not necessarily directly beneath the cloud.

And if it was light from ionization as proposed, it would be much less bright than this, like lightning sprites. It would also probably be less energetic and less violent. There could very well be some earthquake lights in the video, but they're going to be completely overwhelmed and washed out by the light from the failing transformers.

And you would have a hell of a hard time capturing what is by all eyewitness accounts of dim, subtle earthquake lights with a handheld low light cell phone video even without a bunch of plasma arc flashes going off.
posted by loquacious at 10:16 AM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


The earthquake felt...massive, and it went on for ages. It was oscillatory, so not as dangerous, but it really is amazing how Mexico City has evolved: 8.2 and nothing happened. Also, it was quite fitting we had the pyjamas thread yesterday, because there was a pyjama-fest on the streets of the city.
posted by Cobalt at 11:08 AM on September 8, 2017 [12 favorites]


We felt the whole house shaking here in Xalapa, Veracruz ; had to run out and the tremor went on and on. IT was a very weird sensation feeling the earth heave. Luckily no damage, and now we're back dealing with the scheduled hurricane.
posted by dhruva at 12:27 PM on September 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


I do agree that some kind of earthquake lights might be a thing from some kind of geological effect like large scale piezo effect discharges, and there's some evidence of this, but that video isn't it. That's all green copper vapor discharge light.


I don't think it's at all unlikely that earthquake lights would be green.

Bright green light from ionized oxygen is very common in auroras for example, and there are documented cases of vivid green lightning bolts associated with volcanic eruptions:
Few thinks that the bright green bolts seen at the Chaiten volcano are simply "positive streamers," or a current-transferring electrical surge from a positively to a negatively charged region on the outside of the cloud.

If only we could see inside thunderclouds, he suggests, we would see green lightning more often.

Green Color Explained

But why green? The green hue is given off by electrically excited oxygen atoms, says Few. He thinks the same process paints the sky green during the vivid light shows of the aurora borealis that can dominate northern skies in winter.
posted by jamjam at 4:09 PM on September 8, 2017


I don't think it's at all unlikely that earthquake lights would be green.

I'm not saying that they aren't. Again, if they're ionized air like auroras or sprites they wouldn't be anywhere near as bright as they are on the cell phone video. (Ionized pure oxygen also emits red, btw.)

They also wouldn't be so dynamic and violent - IE strobing and flashing like a plasma arc. Like auroras it would be a slower, more subtle light effect.

Using auroras as an example can barely see auroras with the naked eyes in a moonless night, away from light pollution with dark adapted eyes. You are not going to be capturing cell phone video of this kind of light effect, especially not with the sensor being blown out by city lights and light pollution like the video.

I've done aurora photography and even with my ISO cranked up and my lens apeture wide open you're talking like 5+ second exposures on a locked down tripod with a really good, low noise sensor to get any of the colors and details to come out with any clarity.

To the naked eye it looks like a faintly colored, very dim silver-grey fog that shifts and moves around in decidedly non-foglike ways. It does not look like a brightly colored anything.

And I've been through multiple earthquakes and I've seen these lights with my own eyes at least three different times, including actually seeing a power pole can transformer blowing up and the arcs of electricity it threw as the transformer coil shorted out and burned.

In person it looks exactly like the linked video.

The lights in the video are transformer explosions. The video is not proof of earthquake lights. If you could record earthquake lights with a shaky cell phone video, we'd have a lot more proof of them already.

And my apologies for the tangential derail and hammering on this issue. This is important to me because I love science and atmospheric lighting effects, and the linked video in question isn't proof of earthquake lights.

I do think earthquake lights are real, but I also think it's important to not let this misinformation be spread or accepted as fact, because it's not a fact. I actually feel kind of sheepishly bad for the geologist who thinks it isn't transformers blowing up.
posted by loquacious at 10:55 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


she's on twitter, dude. go talk to her. nobody here is arguing either way.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:17 AM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


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