Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Big Bang?


We've had several market disruptions over the past decade:

  • housing
  • stock market
  • credit
Now we could be facing an eruption disruption....
Quakes shake loose fears about Yellowstone volcano


Associated Press Writer= CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP)

Run for your lives ... Yellowstone's going to explode!

Hundreds of small earthquakes at Yellowstone National Park in recent weeks have been an unsettling reminder for some people that underneath the park's famous geysers and majestic scenery lurks one of the world's biggest volcanoes.

In the ancient past, the volcano has erupted 1,000 times more powerfully than the 1980 blast at Mount St. Helens, hurling ash as far away as Louisiana. No eruption that big has occurred while humans have walked the earth, however, and geologists say even a minor lava flow is extremely unlikely any time soon.

Some observers are nonetheless warning of imminent catastrophe.

"To those of us who have been following these events, we know that something is brewing, especially considering that Yellowstone is over 40,000 years overdue for a major eruption," warned a posting on the online disaster forum

Another Web site contained a page entitled "Yellowstone Warning" that encouraged "everyone to leave Yellowstone National Park for 100 miles around the volcano caldera because of the danger in poisonous gasses that can escape from the hundreds of recent earthquakes."

That site, which carried the U.S. Geological Survey logo, has since been taken down.

"A casual observer would be led to believe that was an official source," Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said, pointing out that the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, which monitors the park for seismic activity, hasn't changed the volcano's alert level from "normal."

Working with the Geological Survey, Nash issued a news release Thursday, saying no evacuation had been ordered.

Jessica Robertson, a Geological Survey spokeswoman in Reston, Va., said the Web page violated the USGS trademark and that the agency's attorneys were investigating whether a federal offense was committed.

Phone and e-mail messages left with the contact named on the Web site weren't returned Thursday.

Earthquakes are hardly unusual in Yellowstone. Hundreds occur in the park every year. Earthquake "swarms" like the recent activity also aren't uncommon, although the 900 or so quakes that began Dec. 26 and significantly tapered off about a week later appear to have been the most energetic swarm in more than 20 years.

The most powerful temblor was magnitude 3.9, just short of being able to cause moderate damage. The vast majority of quakes were too weak to be felt by people.

Scientists knowledgeable about Yellowstone's geology aren't publicly speculating about what caused the swarm before they can analyze data. That will take months.

"I could come up with 100 different theories without any evidence for them and they would all be equally likely," said Jake Lowenstern, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based scientist in charge of Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. "Unless you have some reason to say that's what's going on, then you're not going to get a whole lot of people convinced by your speculation."

Park geologist Hank Heasler said the odds of a cataclysmic eruption at Yellowstone any time soon are astonishingly remote รข€” about the same as a large meteorite hitting the Earth. The last such eruption occurred 640,000 years ago. The last eruption of any kind at Yellowstone was a much smaller lava flow about 70,000 years ago.

"Statistically, it would be surprising to see an eruption the next hundred years," Lowenstern said.

Much more likely, he said, would be a hydrothermal explosion in which underground water encounters a hot spot and blasts through the surface. Small hydrothermal explosions producing craters a few feet wide occur in Yellowstone perhaps once or twice a year. Large hydrothermal explosions leaving craters the size of a football field occur every 200 years or so, according to a 2007 paper co-authored by Heasler, Lowenstern and others.

Lowenstern said new equipment installed deep within bore holes in the park over the past two summers eventually should provide a clear picture of what's causing the earthquake swarm. That data could help scientists make better predictions about Yellowstone's geology.

The upside is that global warming alarmists will quiet down for awhile as global temperatures rapidly drop from the dust cloud... and stay that way for quite awhile. Can you say "ice age?"

Also, the U.S. will dominate the market in volcanic ash. It makes great cement for construction. Obama's highway and bridge plan would be given a great boost by having local supplies of construction material everywhere.

I'm glad I still have my air-filled "bunny boots." Warm and cozy to 50 below.


Can"t Find It?

Use the SEARCH BLOG feature at the upper left. For example, try "Global Warming".

You can also use the "LABELS" below or at the end of each post to find related posts.

Blog Archive

Cost of Gasoline - Enter Your Zipcode or Click on Map

CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

My photo
Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)