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Thursday, September 18, 2008

SIX HOURS TO SEATTLE (Part 7)

Hawaii is very similar to the Canaries. We annually get 7 million tourists, and they are up past 9 million. They are a little more than 1000 miles away from Madrid and Honolulu is separated from D.C. by almost 5000 miles. We both have seven inhabited islands of volcanic origin. They are part of Spain but have a so-called eighth satellite, called Venezuela, where many of their inhabitants emigrated to when faced with poverty in the earlier 1900s. Smart, because they now have a more secure link with crude oil. Hawaii’s eighth island is Las Vegas, which keeps winning in the balance of trade and population competition. Dumb, because our involuntary personal contributions just bankrolled the new Echelon on the Strip for the Boyd Gaming Corporation, which was postponed due to our current recessive state of financial affairs.

Let me pick August of 2012, as this seems to be my temporal focal point for unnatural mega disasters. Suppose the combination of a slow moving Category 5 hurricane stalls just south of the Big Island, bringing torrential rains to the east side, say, 48 inches over two days.

An earthquake of magnitude 9.0 triggers the eruption of Mauna Loa and Kilauea. This is a stretch, because the largest previously, the Great Kau Earthquake, only was an 8.0. But, say it happens, and, lava begins seeping into those crevices and faults along the line of the previously defined landslide boundaries, weakened by the horrific quake. The extra percolating rain fluid, which also percolates to depth, becomes steam, and, with more heat, continues to expand like superheated gas. The eruptions continue for several days, heating the interstitial fluids, increasing the edifice pore pressure and, through thermal alteration, expanding fault cracks, weakening critical material interfaces and lubricating slip planes. Decoupling along low friction and strength layers occurs at those flow boundaries of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Of course, those 48 inches of rain added an enormous extra weight to the already metastable underground condition.

At 10:04AM on September 6 (I become 72 that day...but I'll be on Oahu, for sure...if not away from Hawaii on a trip), 2012, the collective strains induced by all the above cause a catastrophic failure of the vertical and horizontal extension of dyke intrusions, and the whole monolithic block falls at 250 Km/hour (155 miles/hour) piling up 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the coastline at a depth of 3048 meters (10,000 feet), creating a 100 meter (328 feet—about as tall as the highest building in Honolulu, but only half as high as the Seattle Space Needle) tsunami headed toward Seattle. Stay tuned for what happened.
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The eye of Tropical Cyclone Sinlaku, at 64 MPH, is just east of Kyushu, and should skirt Honshu over the next couple of days. Rains will be torrential. All is otherwise quiet on the hurricane front.
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Crude oil prices inched up to $98.20/barrel, even when 93% of U.S. Gulf oil output was idled. There doesn't seem to be much correlation between hurricanes and oil prices, probably because the U.S. produces so little oil. This slight rise was blamed on a weakening U.S. dollar. The DJI soared 350 to 10,960 when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that an independent agency will be created to take bad loans off bank balance sheets. These wild sinusoidal gyrations could make tomorrow particularly terrific or terrible, for various quarterly options will be expiring. AIG will next week be replaced by Kraft Foods on the Dow Jones Industrials.
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