Thursday, April 15, 2010
Musing Earth Energies Tell Us About Time!
During hundreds of millions of years.
I think that human prophecies often attach a little too much
importance and drama to a moment or seeming point of transition that we may grasp in our "native" time scale. Even when the planetary processes involved operate over a time scale grander by orders of magnitude.
Earthquakes happen. Many, many are small. Fewer are great.
My grandparents lived through the 1906 San Francisco Quake (7.8 Richter). I lived through the 1989 Loma Prieta Quake (6.9 Richter). Walking around San Francisco in the days right after that quake, I had the uncanny feeling of being back in 1906. The damage was just like those early photos. Some of the buildings that fell in 1989 survived '06.
But I also realized that, in terms of the tectonic processes involving the San Andreas fault, the subducting remnants of the Farallon plate, the Pacific Plate, and all, fewer that 100 years (when dozens and dozens of major quakes had occurred in California) told me very little in regard to a subduction process that had begun during the Jurassic (sometime between 200 million and 150 million years ago).
How could I have any notion of the sum and magnitude of great earthquakes that shook this part of the planet over hundreds of millions of years?
What does change on this scale mean in comparison to a few dozen major earthquakes during a century that includes my own lifetime?
About 65 million years ago, for instance, the K-T extinction event shook the planet with a 13 Richter magnitude quake. Much life then living on Earth was extinguished, and new life emerged over the subsequent millions of years.
That sort of thing is just a fraction of the time span for the Farallon Plate subduction.
Maybe these recent great quakes will lead up to some marked change in 2012. The change may even involve most of human existence. But in relation to planetary processes, it will be a little blip.
Let me add that human existence as we know it is vital to me, to us. But I have come to think that a brief period of human existence going through some great earthquakes is probably not the prophetic indicator we imagine it might be. Considering what planetary processes involve.