CCNet 7/2001 - 15 January 2001

"The government is this week to announce its support for the
international Spaceguard asteroid detection initiative."
--The Sunday Times, 14 January 2001

"To the British Government, NEO spells danger; and has prompted it
to fund a £45 million ($100 million) observatory in the southern
hemisphere to monitor Near Earth Objects at risk of crashing onto the
planet's surface."
-- Australian News Network, 13 January 2001

"Don't count your chickens before they hatch!"
-- Pearl of wisdom

    Australian News Network, 13 January 2001

    Ron Baalke <>

    Michael Paine <>

    Andrew Yee <>

    BBC News Online, 15 January 2001

    The Jerusalem Post, 15 January 2001

    V. Garshnek et al.

    W. Smith & J. Dowell

    A. Ozerdem & S. Barakat

     A. Tobias et al.


From Australian News Network, 13 January 2001,4057,1604756%255E2,00.html

Government blind to need for observatory
By STEPHEN BROOK, Science writer

TO the British Government, NEO spells danger; and has prompted it to fund
[don't count your chickens ..., BJP] a £45 million ($100 million)
observatory [oh, yes; and free lunch for all ..., BJP] in the southern
hemisphere to monitor Near Earth Objects at risk of crashing onto the
planet's surface.

And in Australia, despite being world leaders in astronomy, despite being
pioneers of NEO research in the early 1990s, despite being able to observe
parts of space many other countries can't see, we are doing practically

If it wasn't for Rob McNaught, we would be doing nothing at all. He is
running the only telescope in the southern hemisphere dedicated to NEO
research: an outdated manual photographic telescope housed in a disused
observatory, both donated by the Australian National University.

The observatory dome - located at Siding Spring, near Coonabarabran in
central NSW - has now been painted and the leaks fixed, while the telescope
is being upgraded into a highly sensitive digital imaging device as part of
the worldwide Spaceguard program being paid for by NASA and the University
of Arizona.

Spaceguard [err, NASA; BJP] aims to catalogue 90 per cent of asteroids
larger than 1km by 2008.

Mr McNaught said NEOs were not in the realms of science fiction any longer.
"The attitude has changed dramatically over the last few years. Personally
anyone who thinks it's fanciful is denying the evidence," he said.

A British government task force report released last year recommended the
creation of an international task force against NEOs. The planned
observatory will probably be built in Chile [I hope not :-), if approved, it
will probably be *located* at an ESO site in Chile, BJP].

While Federal Education Minister David Kemp, whose department funds the
Siding Spring site, conceded the search was important while visiting the
site on a holiday with his wife and two young sons, the Howard Government
abandoned the then-controversial NEO research when it came to power in 1996.

"At the time the US was ramping up their program, at the time we were
beginning to convince the Europeans that this was a problem, Australian
pulled out," said Ken Russell, a resident astronomer at the Anglo-Australian
Observatory's UK Schmidt telescope, also at the Siding Spring site.

"I'm very cynical about Australia's efforts; I can't see them getting
involved again, I think they have lost out."

There is no such thing as a typical meteor impact, but the British report
said a 160m-wide asteroid would produce a crater 3km wide and a blast of up
to the equivalent of 1000 million tonnes of TNT. The average interval
between impacts is 4000 years.

The largest NEO yet discovered was found by a telescope at the Siding Spring
site, and has never been detected by a northern hemisphere telescope.

© News Limited


From Ron Baalke <>

Witnesses Wonder about Mysterious Light in the Night Sky
Story by Paola Farer (Denver, Colorado)
January 12, 2001

A lot of people are still wondering what the fireball was that lit up the
skies of eastern Colorado and western Nebraska Thursday night.

Witnesses say it was a blue flash of light that dropped below the horizon
around 9:30 p.m. The crew of a medical helicopter that was airborne when the
object streaked across the sky, said it was so bright, it lit up the inside
of the cockpit. They were flying to Scottsbluff after transporting a patient
to Denver.

The helicopter crew spotted the fireball while flying about 30 miles east of
Greeley, Colorado. The light came from the east, around the
Nebraska-Colorado border.

Drivers traveling along Interstate 80 between Kimball and Sidney, Nebraska
at first reported seeing a blue flash of light drop to the horizon. Similar
reports were made near Chadron and in the Denver area.

Meteorologist Mike Nelson says the light was probably a meteor that burned
up in the atmosphere.

A number of viewers called and e-mailed 9NEWS Thursday night curious about
the light. Viewers said the light was in the northeast part of the sky and
very low to the ground. The station received calls from viewers living as
far apart as Flagler and Glenwood Springs

Motorist J-L Schmidt says the ball of light appeared to have dropped near
the Sidney airport, but the Cheyenne County Sheriff's Department is
reporting no evidence of a meteorite or anything else in the area.

Copyright 2001,


From Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny,

Australian ABC Radio is currently airing a program by Paul Davies on the
origin of life.
I had the privilege to take part in the discussion in Part 2 (I have not yet
heard the edited version!)

Michael Paine
The Genesis Factor - 1 of 2
Saturday 13 January 2001 (12.05, repeated 13.05 Monday 15th)
Dr Paul Davies introduces part 1 of 'The Genesis Factor', a 2-part series
about the origins of life on Earth.

The Genesis Factor - 2 of 2
Saturday 20 January 2001 (12.05, repeated 13.05 Monday 15th)

NOTE: The transcripts of 'The Genesis Factor' will be published after
the broadcast of Part 2.


From Andrew Yee <>

Stanford University


Dawn Levy, News Service
(650) 725-1944; e-mail:

How worlds collide: Geophysicists revive the great plate debate
By Dawn Levy

Alfred Wegener sparked a scientific revolution in 1912 by theorizing that
great slabs of the Earth's rocky surface -- tectonic plates -- slide under,
over or past each other, setting continents adrift. Hotly debated as
recently as the late '60s, tectonic plate theory is now universally
accepted. But one major question remains: What drives the movement of the
great plates?

"The scientific community has developed in two different directions, with
half thinking that mantle convection drives the plates and the other half
thinking that gravitational forces such as subduction drive the plates and
that mantle convection doesn't have any role," said Götz Bokelmann, visiting
associate professor of geophysics at Stanford. "I'm really excited that I
and several other people as well have data that may help to resolve some of
that." Bokelmann and Eugene Humphreys of the University of Oregon led a
session on tectonics Dec. 17 at the annual meeting of the American
Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

That morning, more than 800 geophysicists convened at the Moscone Convention
Center to revive the "great plate debate," which had lain dormant for
decades. Inspired by new knowledge created by recent advances in seismology
and modeling, they hoped to find common ground concerning one of geology's
great unsolved mysteries: how tectonics happens.

If scientists can gain a better understanding of the planet's large-scale
dynamics, they will be able to better model small-scale dynamics responsible
for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions common where plates meet. "But there
is much that we don't know -- how stresses are transmitted, if plate
tectonics is steady or episodic," Bokelmann said. Plate motions may not be a
direct expression of mantle convection, the movement of molten rock as it
rises from the Earth's core, cools near the surface, then sinks because
cooler material is denser.

Like the latest American presidential election, the mechanism of tectonics
splits the scientific community into two evenly divided camps. One contends
that continental drift is driven from below: Mantle convection drags a plate
toward the side that subducts, or descends beneath an adjacent plate. The
other posits a side-driven mechanism, first proposed in the '60s by
scientists Egon Orowan and Walter Elsasser, that resembles a conveyor belt:
Upwellings of light material at oceanic ridges compress plates in the
direction of the heavier subducting side, and gravity continues to pull the
heavy plate edge downward into the mantle. Scientists including Stanford
geophysics Professor Norman Sleep study such recycling of continents.

So what's the true mechanism? Like the legendary blind men who gave
different descriptions of an elephant because one had felt the trunk,
another the ears, another the tail, geologists have to look at complex data
from many locations worldwide to get a true picture of how plates move.

One source of data is seismic waves -- vibrations produced by earthquakes or
explosions. They travel through the planet in different ways, as
compressional or shearing waves, and those differences reveal important
information. Compressional waves travel like sound: Squeezed pulses
alternate with expanded pulses. In contrast, shear waves wobble side-to-side
like shaken jelly. Compressional waves can travel through anything. But
shear waves do not propagate in liquids, which cannot store the energy
needed to generate side-to-side motions. Seismometers, motion sensors that
detect earthquake waves, can distinguish compressional waves from shearing

Seismic data are collected at thousands of instrument stations worldwide and
arrival time measurements are sent to repositories such as the International
Data Center in England and the National Earthquake Information Center in
Colorado. Arrival times are triangulated to pinpoint earthquake locations.

By characterizing seismic waves according to their origins and time delays,
scientists have been able to create a sort of X-ray image of the planet.
Earth has a solid inner core of iron with a little nickel surrounded by a
liquid outer core of mostly iron. That in turn is encircled by the mantle,
made mostly of rocky materials dominated by silicon and oxygen. And encasing
the mantle is the crust, which joins part of the underlying mantle to form
the strong lithosphere, like the tough skin of an onion. While some mantle
is fluid like lava, most is solid rock. Nonetheless, over the long term the
mantle deforms, flowing throughout centuries like glass in the bottom-heavy
panes of a medieval European church.

Tectonic plates are about 50 to 100 kilometers (31 to 62 miles) deep,
thinner under oceans and thicker under continents. Under the oldest part of
a continent, the plate often has a thick rocky root that extends 200 to 400
kilometers (124 to 248 miles) into the deeper mantle, Bokelmann said.

Using his hand as a prop, he demonstrated what scientists would expect to
see if the bottom-driven mechanism moved tectonic plates. Holding his palm
down, he dangled a finger below the plane of his hand so that it extended
forward slightly. "This is the plate," he said, pointing to his hand. "And
this is the root here, which sticks into the mantle," he said, wiggling the
finger. "Now, I'm moving the plate [the hand], but the root [finger] has to
move too -- they're connected." If the mantle moves faster than the plate
(as it would in the mechanism that's driven from below), then the root
precedes the continent (the finger points forward). Conversely, if forces
act from the side, the root would point away from the direction of plate
movement (the finger points backward).

To determine which way the root points, Bokelmann used a crystal compass of
sorts. Movement of a continent can cause deformation of its root. During
deformation, crystals of olivine, the most common mineral in the root,
reorient and align in the direction the root moves. Scientists can determine
this orientation seismologically because waves propagate faster in this
direction than in others.

Looking at the deep root of the stable portion of North America, called the
North American Craton, Bokelmann saw evidence to support a bottom-driven
mechanism by which the mantle drags continents: Seismic waves from the
southwest arrived earlier than expected. "It turns out that everywhere under
the craton the fast directions are dipping into the plate motion direction,
and that suggests that the root is leading the southwestern motion of the
plate and that North America is moving because the deeper mantle pulls it
along," he said.

Similarly, India, which broke off from Africa 150 million years ago, has
been racing northward at a rate of 5 centimeters (2.5 inches) per year,
colliding with Eurasia to form the Himalayas. Said Bokelmann: "It's not
clear what causes this motion -- why India wants to move to the north so
quickly. It's very hard to explain this with driving from the side. So
perhaps there is driving from below there."

But others geophysicists presented support for lateral forces. Mary Lou
Zoback of the U.S. Geological Survey and Mark Zoback of Stanford suggested
that stress patterns in the western United States are more consistent with
driving from the side.

"I'm not so sure that everywhere on Earth this [bottom-driven] mechanism is
the only one," Bokelmann said. "My technique shows what is happening under
the continental shields but is not the full answer, especially because we
have little data for the oceans yet."

Taken together, scientific evidence will guide geodynamicists, such as
UCLA's Paul Tackley, who attempt to model mantle convection and the motion
of surface plates. "Several groups attempt to model the dynamics of the
Earth, and there's a hope to make models more realistic now," Bokelmann
said. "So there is more need to understand what the Earth does."

Seismology is a broad and rapidly developing field. Though the discipline
has existed for at least a hundred years, recent dramatic improvement in
data coverage and data quality likely will lead to new insights into what is
happening inside the Earth, Bokelmann said.

"As geophysicists, most of us are driven by observations that tell us what
is happening," he said. "And in the past we didn't have many observations to
tell us what the dynamics in the Earth's interior are. We're just now
starting to get this."

Meanwhile, the controversy continues. "Everybody has a very strong opinion,"
Bokelmann said. "Everybody knows the answer. You ask somebody, and he says,
'Oh, sure, the plates are driven from the side -- no question.' Somebody
else says, 'Of course the plates are driven from below. Everybody knows
that.' So everybody's sure, but of different things, very different
concepts. And that makes it very interesting to me because obviously we live
on the same Earth -- but maybe really both mechanisms act with different
importance in different regions."

Can both mechanisms co-exist peaceably? "We probably have a mixture between
the two," Bokelmann concluded. "Truth is often a compromise."

From the BBC News Online, 15 January 2001

Aftershocks have spread further panic through El Salvador as rescuers spent
a second night frantically digging for survivors of Saturday's devastating
earthquake. Emergency workers, aided by foreign rescue teams and sniffer
dogs, are still struggling to reach hundreds of people feared trapped under
rubble, but hopes are fading as the hours pass. Now the ground is shaking
again under us.
Some 340 people are known to have died and hundreds more are missing - most
of them in Las Colinas, the worst-hit area of the capital, San Salvador,
after a mudslide buried 400 homes.



From The Jerusalem Post, 15 January 2001

JERUSALEM (January 15) - If you're not too worried about current problems -
the intifada, the water shortage, or the religious divide - then a
government statement that says we're likely to experience an apocalyptic
earthquake within 50 years probably won't shake you up. But a rough estimate
of up to 10,000 dead, 22,000 injured, and a $50 billion damage bill might
just put a damper on your day. The above figures were released yesterday by
Communications Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer after having been kept secret
by the Knesset earthquake procedures steering committee when its report was
published last year.



Garshnek V, Morrison D, Burkle FM: The mitigation, management, and
survivability of asteroid/comet impact with Earth
SPACE POLICY 16: (3) 213-222 AUG 2000

The chances that Earth will collide with a significant near earth object
(NEO) within the next century are very small, but such a collision is
possible, would be catastrophic, and could happen at any time. Much
discussion has been devoted to methods of diverting these objects away from
Earth through the use of space technology. However, if these efforts are
unsuccessful, we would need to implement effective strategies to survive the
event, no matter how cataclysmic. To date, disaster management for various
impact scenarios has not been addressed (except in novels and Hollywood
films). An impact disaster may be many orders of magnitude greater than any
disaster the human species has ever experienced. Initially, technology and
experience gained in other large-scale disasters will most likely form the
foundation of how these impact events will be managed and classified. Given
the size and energy of the projectile, the estimated area of damage, and
whether impact effects might be localized or global in nature, we can begin
to build basic disaster response scenarios, anticipate public health
concerns, and formulate questions in need of answers. Questions we must deal
with include: what will be required technologically, sociologically, and
medically to survive? What types of evacuation plans and warning systems
might be required? Capabilities in need of further investigation include:
technological protection strategies related to 'impact winter', expanded
chemical hazard control methodologies, food storage and production, roles of
national governments, and international cooperation. Whatever the magnitude
and severity of the event, we must reflect on what we know, what
capabilities we can apply, develop or adapt, and seriously investigate what
might be done to manage it and survive. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All
rights reserved.

Garshnek V, Global Human Futures Res Associates, 91-1201 Kamoawa St, Ewa
Beach, HI 96706 USA.
Global Human Futures Res Associates, Ewa Beach, HI 96706 USA.
NASA, Ames Res Ctr, Moffett Field, CA 94035 USA.
Univ Hawaii, John A Burns Sch Med, Dept Surg, Div Emergency Med, Honolulu,
HI 96822 USA.


Smith W, Dowell J: A case study of co-ordinative decision-making in disaster
ERGONOMICS 43: (8) 1153-1166 AUG 2000

A persistent problem in the management of response to disasters is the lack
of coordination between the various agencies involved. This paper reports a
case study of inter-agency co-ordination during the response to a railway
accident in the UK. The case study examined two potential sources of
difficulty for coordination: first, poorly shared mental models; and,
second, a possible conflict between the requirements of distributed
decision-making and the nature of individual decision-making. Interviews
were conducted with six individuals from three response agencies. Analysis
of reported events suggested that inter-agency co-ordination suffered
through a widespread difficulty in constructing a reflexive shared mental
model; that is, a shared mental representation of the distributed
decision-making process itself, and its participants. This difficulty may be
an inherent problem in the flexible development of temporary multi-agency
organizations. The analysis focused on a distributed decision over how to
transport casualties from an isolated location to hospital. This decision
invoked a technique identified here as the progression of multiple options,
which contrasts with both recognition-primed and analytical models of
individual decisionmaking. The progression of multiple opt ions appeared to
be an effective technique for dealing with uncertainty, but was a further
source of difficulty for inter-agency co-ordination.

Smith W, Edith Cowan Univ, Sch Management Informat Syst, Churchlands, WA
6018, Australia.
Edith Cowan Univ, Sch Management Informat Syst, Churchlands, WA 6018,
Univ Coll London, Dept Comp Sci, London WC1E 6BT, England.

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information


Ozerdem A, Barakat S: After the Marmara earthquake: lessons for avoiding
short cuts to disasters
THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY 21: (3) 425-439 JUN 2000

This paper aims to explore a number of lessons learned from the disaster
management experience in Turkey in response to the Marmara earthquake in
August 1999. It discusses the shortcomings of disaster mitigation and
preparedness measures in Turkey in the context of a disaster and development
relationship, including a number of issues such as legislation and training,
public awareness, insurance, urban planning and management, and disaster
response strategies. It explains why this earthquake produced such a large
impact and suggests why, unlike previous earthquakes, the public reaction to
the shortcomings in disaster mitigation and preparedness for the earthquake
may promote important changes within Turkish society. Through the
investigation of disaster management practice irt the light of lessons
learned from the Marmara earthquake experience, the paper outlines possible
responses to these shortcomings.

Ozerdem A, Univ York, Postwar Reconstruct & Dev Unit, Kings Manor, York YO1
2EP, N Yorkshire, England.
Univ York, Postwar Reconstruct & Dev Unit, York YO1 2EP, N Yorkshire,

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information


Tobias A, Leibrandt W, Fuchs J, Egurrola A: Small satellites: Enabling
operational disaster management systems
ACTA ASTRONAUTICA 46: (2-6) 101-109 JAN-MAR 2000

For satellite derived information to be useful in support of disaster
management it has to have the right contents and be available on time. This
often translates in high to very high spatial resolution and very short
access / revisit time to the areas of surveillance and crisis. This can be
achieved only by constellations of satellites in low Earth orbit. Small
satellites and small launchers are implied for their lower cost to make
these constellations affordable. In most cases the space capabilities
required to support disaster management will be deployed for other
applications. Disaster management will mainly drive the need for several of
those elements to provide the short access time required in the alarm and
crisis phase, (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Tobias A, European Space Agcy, Estec, Earth Observ Preparatory Programme,
NL-2200 AG Noordwijk, Netherlands.
European Space Agcy, Estec, Earth Observ Preparatory Programme, NL-2200 AG
Noordwijk, Netherlands.

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