Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Insight on the Nation’s Earthquake Hazards

To help make the best decisions to protect communities from earthquakes, new USGS maps display how intense ground shaking could be across the nation.

The USGS recently updated their U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps, which reflect the best and most current understanding of where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur, and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result.
42 States at Risk; 16 States at High Risk
While all states have some potential for earthquakes, 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake in 50 years (the typical lifetime of a building). Scientists also conclude that 16 states have a relatively high likelihood of experiencing damaging ground shaking. These states have historically experienced earthquakes with a magnitude 6 or greater.
The hazard is especially high along the west coast, intermountain west, and in several active regions of the central and eastern U.S., such as near New Madrid, MO, and near Charleston, SC. The 16 states at highest risk are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
While these overarching conclusions of the national-level hazard are similar to those of the previous maps released in 2008, details and estimates differ for many cities and states. Several areas have been identified as being capable of having the potential for larger and more powerful earthquakes than previously thought due to more data and updated earthquake models. The most prominent changes are discussed below.
Informed Decisions Based on the Maps
With an understanding of potential ground shaking levels, various risk analyses can be calculated by considering factors like population levels, building exposure, and building construction practices. This is used for establishing building codes, and in the analysis of seismic risk for key structures. This can also help in determining insurance rates, emergency preparedness plans, and private property decisions such as re-evaluating one’s home and making it more resilient.
These maps are part of USGS contributions to the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), which is a congressionally-established partnership of four federal agencies with the purpose of reducing risks to life and property in the U.S. that result from earthquakes. The contributing agencies are the USGS, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Institute of Standards and Technology, and National Science Foundation (NSF). As an example of the collaboration, the hazards identified in the USGS maps underlie FEMA-sponsored seismic design provisions that are incorporated into building codes adopted by states and localities. The maps also reflect investments in research by academic and other scientists supported by grants from the USGS and the NSF.
“The standards for seismic safety in building codes are directly based upon USGS assessments of potential ground shaking from earthquakes, and have been for years,” said Jim Harris, a member and former chair of the Provisions Update Committee of the Building Seismic Safety Council. “The committees preparing those standards welcome this updated USGS information as a basis for making decisions and continuing to ensure the most stable and secure construction.”
Key Updates
East Coast
The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments. As one example, scientists learned a lot following the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck Virginia in 2011. It was among the largest earthquakes to occur along the east coast in the last century, and helped determine that even larger events are possible. Estimates of earthquake hazards near Charleston, SC, have also gone up due to the assessment of earthquakes in the state.
In New York City, the maps indicate a slightly lower hazard for tall buildings than previously thought (but still a hazard nonetheless). Scientists estimated a lower likelihood for slow shaking from an earthquake near the city. Slow shaking is likely to cause more damage to tall structures in contrast, compared to fast shaking which is more likely to impact shorter structures.
Central U.S.
The New Madrid Seismic Zone has been identified to have a larger range of potential earthquake magnitudes and locations than previously identified. This is a result of a range of new research, part of which was recently compiled by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
West Coast
In California, earthquake hazard extends over a wider area than previously thought. Most notably, faults were recently discovered, raising earthquake hazard estimates for San Jose, Vallejo and San Diego. On the other hand, new insights on faults and rupture processes reduced earthquake hazard estimates for Irvine, Santa Barbara and Oakland. Hazard increased in some parts of the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles region and decreased in other parts. These updates were from the new Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast Model, which incorporates many more potential fault ruptures than did previous assessments. Recent earthquakes in Alaska, Mexico and New Zealand taught scientists more about complex ruptures and how faults can link together. This insight was applied to California for which approximately 250,000 potential complex ruptures were modeled.
New research on the Cascadia Subduction Zone resulted in increased estimates of earthquake magnitude up to magnitude 9.3. Deep-sea cores were collected that show evidence within the sea-floor sediments of large earthquake-generated mudflows. Earthquake shaking estimates were also increased following abundant data gathered from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Tohoku, Japan in 2011 and the magnitude 8.2 earthquake offshore of Chile in 2014, as those events ruptured along subduction zones similar to the Pacific Northwest zone. 
In Washington, scientists incorporated new knowledge of the Tacoma Fault into the maps and identified changes to the geometry of the Whidbey Island fault in the northern Puget Sound. Earthquake hazard also increased for Las Vegas because of new science. In Utah, scientists dug trenches to study prehistoric earthquakes along the Wasatch Fault. While the overall seismic hazard didn’t change significantly, detailed changes were made to the fault models in this region and robust data were acquired to hone the assessments. This is valuable since approximately 75% of Utah’s population, including the residents of Salt Lake City, lives near this fault.
The magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Wenchuan, China in 2008 provided many new records of shaking that are very similar to anticipated future earthquakes in the western U.S., as the fault structures are similar. Previously, scientists did not have nearly as many shaking records from earthquakes of this size.
Induced Earthquakes … Research Underway
Some states have experienced increased seismicity in the past few years that may be associated with human activities such as the disposal of wastewater in deep wells.
One specific focus for the future is including an additional layer to these earthquake hazard maps to account for recent potentially triggered earthquakes that occur near some wastewater disposal wells. Injection-induced earthquakes are challenging to incorporate into hazard models because they may not behave like natural earthquakes and their rates change based on man-made activities.
You Can’t Plan If …
“USGS earthquake science is vital because you can’t plan for earthquakes if you don’t know what you are planning for,” said Mark Petersen, Chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. “Our nation’s population and exposure to large earthquakes has grown tremendously in recent years. The cost of inaction in planning for future earthquakes and other natural disasters can be very high, as demonstrated by several recent damaging events across the globe. It is important to understand the threat you face from earthquakes at home and the hazards for the places you might visit. The USGS is dedicated to applying the best available science in developing reliable products useful for reducing the earthquake risk across the U.S.”
Start with USGS Science
The USGS is the only federal agency with responsibility for recording and reporting earthquake activity nationwide and providing a seismic hazard assessment. The USGS regularly updates the national seismic hazard models and maps, typically every 6 years, in sync with the building code updates. The 2014 update focuses on the conterminous U.S. Maps are also available for Alaska (last updated in 2007); Hawaii (1998); Puerto Rico (2003); Guam and Marianna Islands (2012); andAmerican Samoa (2012).
View the maps online at:

Friday, June 12, 2015

What’s happening in drugs

Marijuana concentrates are causing overdoses and endangering the lives of users  

No longer satisfied with the effects of marijuana, users are looking for ways to get better and greater highs. The legalization of marijuana has opened up new avenues of experimentation and drug development that is making marijuana use dangerous and life threatening.

The next big drug craze is marijuana derivatives brought about by the legalization of marijuana, said Jermaine Galloway, drug enforcement officer of the Boise Police Department, who spoke recently at the Utah Governor’s Public Safety Summit. He trains, teaches, and consults with other police forces, emergency medical services, and fire departments to bring them up on the current trends in drug use.

According to Galloway, you can’t “just generalize” about drug use anymore. His warnings about marijuana use apply as much to parents as to police officers. 

While marijuana weed has 15% THC, the derivatives may be as high as 90 percent THC, he said.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. Cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in areas of the brain that control thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. “THC attaches to these receptors and activates them and affects a person's memory, pleasure, movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, and sensory and time perception,” writes Alina Bradford of LiveScience.

At 15% THC a person may seem drowsy; at 90% a person becomes high and appears to be on an LSD trip that can cause overdose and even death.

With the legalization of marijuana in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, high concentrate THC is coming more available and is being exported to other states, as far away as the east coast.  Just look at the license plates of customers lining up outside of cannabis shops in Denver, said Galloway. They are not locals.

The percentage of out of state license plates is 40 to 60 percent. They come from Vermont, Texas, and Missouri to Colorado to buy legal drugs to take back to sell. At one store Galloway observed the sales person selling a couple of boxes to out-of-state customers costing thousands of dollars.

Marijuana concentrate (90% THC)
Extracts are made by taking the green leafy marijuana, then grinding it up, and “blasting” it in an extraction tube using butane. The process extracts and purifies the THC (trichomes). The danger of explosion is great and many people have been injured, and some have been killed during the extraction phase. The runoff drips into a pan or a bowl. In the process the THC is refined from 15% potency to a lethal 90%.  Any one wanting to learn how to extract THCs can find out about the process in a 10-minute video tape on the Internet.  It takes a lot of dry marijuana to make THC concentrate.

This product can be purchased across the counter at cannabis stores in states where it is legal. It is made into a number of products including marijuana butter.

In addition to extracts, the Internet contains explicit instructions on how to use and make other marijuana products.  The Stoner’s Cookbook gives recipes for cooking with marijuana butter.

Cooking with Marijuana

Cannbutter or Bud butter
According to The Stoner's Cookbook, weed-related recipes call for the making of a certain quantity of "Cannbutter" or "Bud Butter", which is then used as a replacement for standard butter. 

“Eating marijuana is a little different from smoking it," says the recipe. "The effects last much longer, and the experience can be a lot more intense. The effects can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to start.... When the effects do kick in you will start to feel very relaxed. If you are sitting in a comfy spot, you may not want to move! Many people refer to the effects as ‘Body Stoned’ because your body will feel very relaxed and heavy.”

"Eating too much weed-infused food can be quite intense for some people," the recipe continues. "You may feel sick, confused, unable to move or talk, and your coordination may be heavily affected."

Laws have not caught up with the latest in cannabis and marijuana use, said Galloway. A driver on 15% THC can overdose and cause an accident; at 90% he is dangerous and even lethal. Also, the long term effects of using concentrates are unknown. 

Today's evolving drug culture

The message is all about drugs and getting high
Parents can go into most retail stores in any city and in any state that sell to the 16 to 35 year old set, and find drug clothing or drug paraphernalia. Young people who think they are “chick” by wearing this clothing are in fact sending a message to friends and dealers alike that they are a part of this culture. These “subtle messages” from our children may suggest they are “part of the drug culture” or at least “toying with it.” Their clothing invites other users and dealers to approach them to share or buy drugs.

“Legalization is changing attitudes toward drug use,” according to Galloway.  A Washington state teacher is surpised by a shirt worn by a good student.  “I didn't know you knew about this clothing,” she said. Kids are taking marijuana to school, and, when confiscated drug-user parents are calling schools to get their pot back.

Drug culture clothing is sold in states and cities where marijuana is not legal. Some of the ensignia and words say "Kush purple," "Just dabbin," "Dabs," "Keep calm and dab" and 4:20. Galloway saw a Kush t-shirt at a school in Alabama, Kush hats in a mall in Utah, and Kush mouse pads in an Iowa shopping mall. "They are all over if you are observant," he said. (Kush is a sweet potent form of pot.) Parents can go to Google Image and search for any of the above and see the varieties of clothing and other items.

Paraphernalia like bongs, beakers, e-cigarettes, vapor devices, colorful pipes, vaporizers, and even Hi-liters are used for altering or smoking marijuana products. Parents can see these items on the Internet by searching for marijuana paraphernalia.

Many shops online sell clothing and paraphernalia as well.

How is that related to drug world

Most people who smell marijuana concentrates didn't realize they were drugs. E-devices are advertised as being discreet and are smoked in public in front of the police, said Galloway.  E-devices are designed for smoking nicotine, but can be easily modified for marijuana concentrates.
While only four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, other states are considering changing their laws. California and Nevada are not charging marijuana users while Montana, Arizona, and New Mexico have medical marijuana laws.

Most objections to legalization claim marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Libertarians claim since adults are free to buy and drink alcohol, they should also be able to buy marijuana, which they claim is not nearly as harmful. Both ignore the real effects and dangers of marijuana concentrates and derivatives. Approximately 45 percent of sales are legal in Colorado. The volume of marijuana sold in legalized states is huge and it is going across the nation.

Colorado and legalization

While Colorado has legalized marijuana, it still has cartels that own and control the drug growers and distribution.  While many legitimate buyers go in the front end of a store, the backdoor has a line that goes around the building. To enter a “recreational center” a customer has to be 21 years old. ($100 will buy fake IDs in 10 days from China that work in police scanners.)

Free publications everywhere in the state talk about drugs. Stores sell marijuana joints, but also make and sell concentrates. They have growing rooms as well as dispensaries. The “budtender,” not a bartender, show customers the different strains and various products. Good daytime strains are used for medical purposes but variations with more energy can create hallucinations

Products and various paraphernalia

Different marijuana pot strains give different effects. Some of the names are Flo, Sour diesel, Super lemon haze, Sugar daddy, Super skunk, Range, Trinity, Laffie, and Golden goat.  Customers can buy wax oils and concentrates, balms, lotions, vape pens, e-cigs, and edible topicals and food, like marijuana infused gummy candy, a marijuana product that looks like a candy bar, popcorn, nuts or peanuts, even gluten free. Jolley rancher candies melted down and frozen.  They are rolled in powder sugar so they don't melt together. Caviar dry marijuana is dipped in wax and California raisins are coated to become honey buds.

While better strains of marijuana may be sold from dispensaries, it changes at the street level and at schools where it is still illegal. At one middle school, nineteen students had sampled the candy and didn’t even know it was marijuana.  

Drug culture T-shirt
The first-ever marijuana-infused sexual enhancement product designed specifically for women has come to market, called Foria. Morning beer sometimes includes marijuana as an added relaxant. Smoking wax lacks smoke and has little smell. Hash oil (also known as hashish oil, butane honey oil, BHO, wax, shatter, crumble) is sold in legalized stores. A person dabs the nail with hash oil, which is consequently vaporized and inhaled. Oil is used in public or for cooking. Earl is another name for oil.

E-devices and vape pens are mobile and discreet because as an outsider it is impossible to know what you are looking at. Shatter, shard or dab wax are burned in the vape pen or bong and are made from waxing concentrates of 90 percent THC.  These are the preferred way of smoking among teens because an observer can't tell if the device has tobacco or marijuana. The contents of e-devices are much more concentrated and navigable than a pipe. The results are much more immediate.

A black titanium small-nail shaped device can be bought in stores or online. While it requires additional equipment, it is designed for vaporizing concentrates, having a suitable surface to retain and conduct heat for vaporization. Cannabis liquid extract, drug based esticks, budder or wax are produced that can cause hallucinations and passing out. The producers of Caviar Gold, which is considered high quality marijuana, are using hip hop and rappers to promote their product.


To be able to understand the drug culture, a person has to understand drug messenging. April 20, according to the Huffington Post, is international weed day. 4:20 is also the universal time of day to get high. “A group of five San Rafael High School friends known as the Waldos -- by virtue of their chosen hangout spot, a wall outside the school -- coined the term in 1971.” In the drug culture are all sorts of references to April 20: 4:20, 4/20, forty to five, Mile 419.99. 420 is the Austin, Texas telephone area code and half of that is 210, the area code for San Antonio. 

Cool drug terms come from the marijuana world but they don't stay there, said Galloway.
4:20 - the time to get high

The dangerous side of marijuana use

The media are full of examples where marijuana use has gone bad. The use of Butane in producing marijuana derivatives leads to the highest THC concentrate and can lead to both explosions and overdoses.

Here are some examples from the press:

College students overdose on hash oil. “6 college students sent to hospital after hash oil overdose, St. George police say,” Fox 13 Salt Lake City (December 15, 2014).

Young people overdose on candy bars and pass out at the wheel.  “Marijuana 'edibles' pack a wallop,” USA Today (May 8, 2014).

The Washington Post indicates homeowners and landlords have a new concern. Explosions from drug use can cause death or body injuries. “Marijuana is the bomb.” The Washington Post (February 20, 2015).

When a marijuana user couldn’t get his generator to work, he threw it in the back seat of his car and then lit a cigarette. “Man lit a cigarette in a car full of butane vapors, triggering explosion.” KXLY 4 News Spokane, WA (August 5, 2013.)

An 18-year-old collapsed in tears and told a police officer "I just killed my grandma" after accidentally starting a fire while making drugs. KARE 11 Minneapolis St Paul (March 25, 2015).

Designer drugs add another layer to drug abuse

Ecstasy, Molly or SKY
Ecstasy (MDMA) is a designer drug that causes increased senses and sensation, dilated pupils and teeth grinding.  MDMA  stimulants may have caffeine added. A lot contain meth.

It’s commonly referred to as Molly or Sky, but other terms are Adam, Thizz, Beans, and Tablets. Users speak in terms of “Molly is my home girl,” “Where's Molly?”  “I'm on one,” “Rollin, rolling, rolls,” or “Rolling over at the movie theater.”  It can be disguised as finger lights, streamers, and tracers, glow bracelets, pacifiers, necklaces, and flow sticks and often available at large events in event centers.

Another drug is Kratom, which comes from Southeast Asia. Prosecutors compare it to heroin, but it’s perfectly legal to buy and available on store shelves. It comes in the form of a tea leaf, powder, smoke or snort and is highly addictive. In low doses it acts like stimulant; in higher doses it acts as a pain killer or opiate.  It can be bought at many gas stations. Cough medicines are another stimulant.

Clothing lines identify this drug culture also.  One symbol is “blood shot red eyes.” A mushroom necklace is a popular identifier. Clothing identifiers are “DGK ALL DAY,” “Dirty Ghetto Kids,” “Legalize DGK,” and “Chiefin getting high.” “Don’t TRIP” refers to LSD.  “100 percent” is talking about ecstasy. “Money does grow” says another clothing label. 

Some canvas shoes have a stash compartment to hide drugs.
Canvas shoes with stash compartments

What can be done

Galloway suggests police officers (and parents) take a trip to the local mall to see what is being sold. Watch things that promote the drug culture that kids (and adults) are purchasing. Teach family and friends about drug abuse and share information with others in email groups. Above all, "don’t think you are exempt," he said. "Watch what your kids are bringing home and check their rooms and things regularly for drugs, paraphenalia, or drug culture clothing." Galloway can be friended on Facebook by liking “Tall Cop Says Stop” and followed on Twitter @tallcopsaysstop.

In the following video Boise Police Department Officer Jermaine Galloway talks about some things parents should look for in their kid's bedroom concerning drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Cooking with weed. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2015, from

Bradford, A. (2015, April 7). What is THC? Retrieved June 12, 2015, from

Grim, R. (2009, April 20). 4/20: How 'Weed Day' Got Its Name. Retrieved June 12, 2015, from