Earthquake in Haiti

January 14, 2010

As many of you may have heard, a fairly large earthquake devastated Haiti earlier this week.

The variables just didn’t work out for this, hitting an impoverished country such as Haiti, but the worst being that the epicenter of this earthquake was a measly 15km from Port-au-Prince, making the 7.0 magnitude quake all the more devastating.

USGS map showing epicenter of quake.

As mentioned, the main reason for such a disaster is the proximity to the epicenter, and taking a look at the tectonic plates around the globe, the Dominican Republic lies directly south of the plate boundary between the Caribbean and North America plates.  That is, the North American plate (correct me if I’m wrong) is subducting beneath the Caribbean plate, however the Caribbean plate is so small in relation because it itself is being subducted beneath the South American plate.  So basically it’s getting squeezed out and in millions and millions of years, will be completely subducted.

Simple map of the tectonic plates around the globe.

When people think of subduction zones, they’re pretty much thinking of a cut-and-dry scenario, where one plate goes under another, and that’s that.  However, depending on it’s orientation, there are several places along a plate boundary where they don’t meet head on, and you get what’s called ‘strike-slip’ faulting, where instead of one plate going underneath the other, they slide past.  Combine that with subduction, and you have an area like that in the Caribbean.  Eventually, the area that’s undergoing strike-slip will eventually subduct, but at the moment (geologically speaking), this small area slides past.  Now, even my explanation is pretty simple in relation to what’s really going on, but I’ll leave it at that.  Hopefully countries worldwide will come to the aid of the tiny nation of Haiti!

Below is a better picture of Haiti in relation to the plate boundary from Google Earth.

Google Earth image of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The red star is the epicenter of the quake, and the line to the north is the Caribbean-North American plate boundary. Click for hi-res photo.


Dubai: You’re just so crazy…!

January 11, 2010

I’ve been meaning to write about Dubai for probably the better part of a year now, but now so much has happened since then, that I can’t fit it all into one post!  So there’s going to have to be…. MORE THAN ONE!!

The Burj Dubai..... best Wi-Fi hotspot in town.

If you haven’t been following the news at all, the Burj Dubai finally opened it’s doors last week, officially becoming the tallest building in the world.  Now, I honestly don’t know how I feel about Dubai.  Here you have a city that, over the past decade, has built itself up into one of the greatest, and definitely expensive and posh, cities in the world, completely built on oil.  And while I’m not a big fan of such luxuries being created due to this, I can’t ignore the other side of the coin.  That is, that this bizarrely successful city presents a number of opportunities for the creative types to put their creations on the map.  The Burj Dubai being one of them.

The Burj Al Arab... your retirement wouldn't last 2 days.

The first being the Burj Al Arab, the famous ‘sail’ hotel off the coast of Dubai, becoming the first 7-star hotel in the world.  And it’s a hotel alright… I think I heard just to have lunch there (without booking a room) is somewhere in the range of $2500, which is freaking ridiculous, but so is Dubai itself.

To get an idea of just how huge the Burj Dubai tower is, the video below is a fly-by of the now famous building, which still blows my mind.

That’s about all for now, but maybe I’ll actually write about something interesting next time, who knows!