So, California had an earthquake Sunday.
Earthquakes aren’t really “news” for the Golden State. They're just a natural event that happens because these huge slabs (called tectonic plates) of rock below our feet are constantly playing a game like Jenga, where sometimes the edges slip and crack. That sends off these waves we occasionally end up feeling. California just happens to sit on top of one of those places (called fault lines) where that sort of activity is more likely. Although the results of quakes can be pretty devastating, other times we feel nothing at all. In fact, everyday, across the planet, little ones transpire and we're blissfully unaware of them when they do.
As for this weekend’s events, everything turned out pretty well.
It was a casualty free episode, nobody was hurt, and the power even remained on in the 100 year old house of resident Rachel Maytorena, who lives a mile off the coast, near Eureka.
"It just kept going and going, very slowly and softly. It was not violent. It almost felt like you were in a boat that was rocking,” Maytorena described.
“The animals, they felt it," she said, adding that they “were ready to get out of the house."
Indeed, animals are pretty sensitive to earthquakes – not just while they’re happening but beforehand. While our best seismology technology is constantly advancing, it still falls short of effectively determining when and if a quake will happen. But you know what can? The common toad can!
Yep, Bufo bufo (which sounds far more majestic than "common toad" doesn't it?) is reportedly able to predict imminent quakes by picking up seismic activity as much as five days in advance of a quake, from over 40 miles away. Researchers believe that once they sense charged particles and noxious gases, they get the hell out of Dodge (or Eureka). That’s just a fun and useless fact for you to take into your day.
— Manly Blog (@MnlyBeach) January 26, 2011
You know why? Because we can’t help if earthquakes happen. So it’s better you leave your internet-news perusal with a few nuggets of pointless knowledge and inspiration versus worry. We can’t control a quake, but some stuff we can do includes:
1. Moving somewhere they’re less likely to happen.
2. Taking up residence with a colony of toads so you can reserve your fight or flight response for when the leader gives the signal to abandon ship.
3. Using your skills (that's the "inspiration" part - did it work?) to help battle the nasty aftermath when a really powerful one hits.
It's helpful to know when things like this happen so we can make sure the people we love are alright, but Sunday’s quake resulted in no major damage, despite it's magnitude, so the fear mongering is unnecessary.
However, its proximity to today’s 3 year anniversary of still-recovering Japan’s quake and tsunami reminds us that far larger disasters do happen.
What’s more, we can help following these events beyond merely sharing emotional footage. When we see a giant wave wreak havoc and carry off homes and cars like bathtoys, we can let that stirring in our tummies spur us into action. From hardcore volunteering like Erika Jenson does - to donating books to children whose families lost everything or just a small monetary offering, we all possess something that can help.
And after any natural happening over which we have no power, the power we do have - to alleviate someone's suffering - is pretty much awesome.
Healing thoughts go out to Japan and its people as they recover.
Image via Youtube