The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Google Crisis Map — Moore, Oklahoma tornado

Google has a crisis map showing the extent and severity of the damage from the May 20, 2013 tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma. This demonstrates the tremendous power not only of the tornado, but also of geospatial technologies.



Grace and Peace

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Geographic Information Systems, Maps, Natural Disasters | , , , , | Leave a comment

Around the web 1/26/2013

GENESIS 1:1 IN KLINGON — has Genesis 1:1 in Klingon.


I guess that might come in handy if a Klingon shows up at the next Answers in Genesis conference.

For those of us who don’t know the Klingon alphabet, there is an English transliteration.

Oh my, there are links to the Klingon Bible — here and here. “yeSuS ‘IHrIStoS, [Qun’a’ puqloD] Delbogh De’ QaQ’e’ taghlu’.”

I actually don’t look at this as a useless exercise. If I were a Trekie who was into learning Klingon, I would want to be able to communicate the gospel in a way that my fellow Trekies could relate to.

YEC EXPEDITION FAILS TO FIND LIVING DINOSAURS IN CONGO — From (formerly In Search of Mokele-mbembes.

WAYS IN WHICH MILLIONS OF US COULD DIE — Planetary disasters: It could happen one night. Mega-tsunamis, super-volcanoes, gamma-ray blasts, fungal attacks, asteroid impacts, solar flares…

The Sun occasionally launches outsize solar flares, which fry electricity grids by generating intense currents in wires. The most recent solar megastorm, in 1859, sparked fires in telegraph offices; today, a similarly sized storm would knock out satellites and shut down power grids for months or longer. That could cause trillions of dollars in economic damage. A solar flare some 20 times larger than that may have hit Earth in 774…


BIBLE TOWNSThe ten most Bible-minded cities in America. And the least Bible minded cities.

A WILD RIDE — This doesn’t have much to do with Christianity, science, the Bible, etc., but this documentary on Al Jazeera was fascinating: Risking it all: Pakistani truckers’ perilous journey.

Grace and Peace

January 26, 2013 Posted by | Around the Web, Natural Disasters, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Complex megadisasters

There are disasters. There are megadisasters. And now there are complex megadisasters.

From The Christian Science Monitor: Mega-quakes and mega-disasters: Will US heed wake-up call in Japan?

The crisis in Japan could be considered the first “complex megadisaster” the world has ever seen — a potent combination of natural and technological calamities that might become more common in the future.

A megadisaster is a catastrophe that threatens very quickly to overwhelm an area’s capacity to get people to safety, treat casualties, protect vital infrastructure and control panic or chaos, said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

“A complex megadisaster, which is what I’ve been calling the crisis in Japan, is a natural catastrophe overlaid by a technological situation,” Redlener told LiveScience. “You have four catastrophes in Japan: the earthquake, the tsunami, the continuing concerns about the instability of the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, and the humanitarian crisis of having hundreds of thousands of people displaced.”

God have mercy.

Grace and Peace

HT: Geology News

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Environment, Geology, Natural Disasters | , , | 3 Comments

Japan tsunami propagation video and graphic

From the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research — Honshu Tsunami Propagation Animation showing the spread of the March 11 tsunami:

Note how the waves reflect and refract, just like you learned about in high school physics.

Also from NOAA, a plot of the maximum amplitude of the tsunami:

Note the faint gray contours; they represent travel times. It takes over 21 hours for a tsunami to travel from Japan to Chile. The colors represent the maximum amplitudes of the tsunami, showing that the intensity of a tsunami can concentrate in narrow bands, and can vary over fairly short distances.

What can we do?

  • Pray — Ask God to show mercy to the people of Japan, that rescuers would have success in locating those in need, that supplies would quickly reach those who need them most, and that the church in Japan and around the world would know how to respond best to the short- and long-term needs of those who are suffering.
  • Give — Governments can and will do much to help, but non-government organizations also can play a key role in crises like this. Many Christian organizations are prepared to respond quickly, such as TouchGlobal (a ministry of the Evangelical Free Church of America) and World Vision.

Grace and Peace

March 11, 2011 Posted by | Christianity, Geology, Natural Disasters | , , | 2 Comments

Billings house demolished by rock slide

People like to build in pretty places. In Billings, Montana (where I spent the first eighteen years of my life), there are plenty of big houses along the Rimrocks, a cliff that forms the northern border of much of the city.

Part of the landscaping for these expensive homes is the sandstone boulders, many of which are the size of a bus. One of the hazards, of course, is that those rocks didn’t get to their present locations gently.

From the Billings Gazette: Billings home demolished by falling rocks.

There was a man in the house when the rock hit it, but thankfully no one was hurt.

The house was on Granite Avenue, but the rock was most certainly a piece of Late Cretaceous Eagle Sandstone.

Grace and Peace, and don’t build your house too close to the cliff.

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Billings Geology, Geology, Montana, Montana Geology, Natural Disasters | 1 Comment

Billings tornado!

On Saturday, June 20, a rare Eastern Montana tornado destroyed the 10,000-seat Rimrock Auto Arena (formerly Metra) in Billings. No one was seriously injured or killed by this F2 tornado which went through a portion of Montana’s largest city.

Growing up in Billings, my memories of Metra include high school graduations (including mine), hockey games, high school basketball tournaments, concerts, rodeos, and various other events.

Youtube has a number of videos:

The large, rectangular building in the background is the Rimrock Auto Arena.

Grace and Peace

June 22, 2010 Posted by | Meteorology, Montana, Natural Disasters | 1 Comment

Earthquake theology

With today’s massive earthquake in Chile, and last month’s deadly tremor in Haiti, I have a few questions for your theological pondering:

  1. Are earthquakes part of God’s good creation, or did they commence with the human fall into sin?
  2. Are earthquakes good or evil? (or neutral?)
  3. Is God glorified in any way by earthquakes?
  4. Are earthquakes part of God’s judgment on sin?
  5. Will the new Earth have earthquakes?

I have my thoughts on these, but I’d be interested in some comments first.

Father, I pray for those in Chile who are suffering in many ways as a result of today’s earthquake. I pray that those who have lost loved ones would be comforted. I pray that those who are injured would get the necessary medical attention. I pray for rescuers to find those who need rescuing. I pray for a quick restoration of essential services, such as water and electricity. I pray for good leadership from the government at all levels. I pray for rich generosity from many people around the world. And I pray that there would be people who would turn from the uncertain things of this world to the savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Grace and Peace

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Creation in the Bible, Geology, Natural Disasters | , | 6 Comments

Sarychev Peak eruption

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Sarychev Peak Eruption, Kuril Islands, Russia.

Credit: NASA/International Space Station astronauts

Credit: NASA/International Space Station Expedition 20 crew

From the Earth Observatory description:

A fortuitous orbit of the International Space Station allowed the astronauts this striking view of Sarychev Volcano (Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan) in an early stage of eruption on June 12, 2009. […] Ash from the multi-day eruption has been detected 2,407 kilometers east-southeast and 926 kilometers west-northwest of the volcano, and commercial airline flights are being diverted away from the region to minimize the danger of engine failures from ash intake.

This detailed astronaut photograph is exciting to volcanologists because it captures several phenomena that occur during the earliest stages of an explosive volcanic eruption. The main column is one of a series of plumes that rose above Matua Island on June 12. The plume appears to be a combination of brown ash and white steam. The vigorously rising plume gives the steam a bubble-like appearance; the surrounding atmosphere has been shoved up by the shock wave of the eruption. The smooth white cloud on top may be water condensation that resulted from rapid rising and cooling of the air mass above the ash column. This cloud is probably a transient feature: the eruption plume is starting to punch through. The structure also indicates that little to no shearing wind was present at the time to disrupt the plume. […]

By contrast, a cloud of denser, gray ash—probably a pyroclastic flow—appears to be hugging the ground, descending from the volcano summit. The rising eruption plume casts a shadow to the northwest of the island (image top). Brown ash at a lower altitude of the atmosphere spreads out above the ground at image lower left. Low-level stratus clouds approach Matua Island from the east, wrapping around the lower slopes of the volcano. Only about 1.5 kilometers of the coastline of Matua Island (image lower center) are visible beneath the clouds and ash.

I’ve got this one set as my desktop background this week.

Grace and Peace

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Geology, Imagery, Natural Disasters | , | 1 Comment

Santa Barbara fires

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Jesusita Fire, California, near Santa Barbara, California, 5/8/2009.

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA (Terra - MODIS)

The red outline areas indicate hotspots, and represent the areas of active wildfires.

Grace and Peace

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Environment, Geography, Imagery, Natural Disasters | | Leave a comment

Eruption of underwater volcano, Tonga

Here’s a video of an eruption of an underwater volcano near the South Pacific island of Tonga on March 19, 2009:

News articles:

London Times: Underwater volcano sends huge columns of ash into Pacific sky

Honolulu Advertiser: 7.9 quake off Tonga could intensify volcano’s eruption

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Submarine Eruption in the Tonga Islands:

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Grace and Peace

March 20, 2009 Posted by | Geology, Imagery, Natural Disasters | , | Leave a comment

Australia flooding images

While the southern parts of Australia have been burning over the past two months, the northern parts have experienced cool weather and heavy rainfall. The following images are of Normanton, Queensland, which has been cut off by flooding for several weeks.

Credit: NASA, EO-1

Credit: NASA, EO-1

Credit: NASA, EO-1

Credit: NASA, EO-1

The first image is in natural color; the second is enhanced with infrared, which gives a clearer indication of ground that is covered by water.

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Floods in Australia.

Grace and Peace

March 13, 2009 Posted by | Imagery, Maps, Meteorology, Natural Disasters | , | 1 Comment

Chaiten Volcano, Chile

After 9000 years of dormancy, Chaiten Volcano, in a remote part of southern Chile, has been in an eruptive phase since May 2008. NASA’s Earth Observatory posted these images of the 1/19/09 dome collapse yesterday:


Credit: NASA (Terra satellite)

NASA (Terra satellite)

Credit: NASA (Terra satellite)

These images above don’t do justice to the high resolution versions available at Earth Observatory:

NASA (Terra satellite)

Credit: NASA (Terra satellite). The river formerly went south of the town of Chaiten (meandering gray channel), but as the stream bed clogged with debris, it changed course and now goes right through the middle of the town.

In these false color images, the red areas are vegetation, and the gray areas are volcanic ash and mud.

A dome collapse is what it sounds like. Chaiten Volcano is similar to Mt. St. Helens in Washington, in that it produces viscous lava that piles up in a dome, as opposed to the fluid lava that is produced by basaltic volcanoes such as those in Hawaii. As the dome grows, it can become unstable and collapse, which is sort of like removing a cork from a bottle of champagne. The result is an eruption of ash, such as what you see in these images. (For a picture of the Chaiten dome before its collapse, click here).

This volcano is in an area with a low population density. The town of Chaiten has been evacuated since the volcano rumbled into activity eight months ago.

The Volcanism Blog gives regular updates on Chaiten Volcano.

Grace and Peace

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Geology, Natural Disasters | , | 1 Comment

Mapping the harvest

From NASA’s Earth Observatory this week: Poor harvest in Kenya


Credit: NASA

From NASA’s description:

Ten million people could face hunger in Kenya after a poor harvest, Kenya’s government warned on January 9, 2009. According to the Associated Press, the government declared a state of emergency to free up funds for food aid.

This image, which shows vegetation conditions between January 1 and January 10, 2009, shows part of the reason for the failed crops. Developing drought settled over eastern Kenya, slowing plant growth. Areas in which plants were growing less vigorously than average are brown, while areas in which plants were growing well are green.

Satellite data like this, if properly used, could help relieve the suffering of millions.

Grace and Peace

January 21, 2009 Posted by | Geography, Maps, Natural Disasters, Why Earth science matters | , | Leave a comment

Ike damage

NASA Earth Observatory has some pictures of damage done by Hurricane Ike:

The writeup explains the value of images taken from an airplane, as compared to the value of satellite shots:

The photos were taken to help communities respond to the disaster. Aerial photography is valuable because it provides a highly detailed view of damage in a small area. Satellites, on the other hand, can provide a wide-scale view, useful in mapping out the extent of a disaster. For example, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite observed flooding over hundreds of kilometers of the Gulf Coast on September 17, but could not image damage down to the street level as these photographs do. Also, unlike a satellite, an airplane is capable of flying beneath clouds.

This also illustrates, once again, the dangers of building on low-lying barrier islands.

Grace and Peace

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Natural Disasters, Why Earth science matters | Leave a comment

Ike flooding from space

Satellite imagery can often be used for a fast and accurate assessment of conditions on the surface of Earth, as can be seen in these images of the Texas and Louisiana Gulf coast before and after Hurricane Ike. The extent of flooding is clearly evident.

The images are the NASA Earth Observatory site.

Grace and Peace

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Natural Disasters | Leave a comment

Video — How a Surge Swamps Galveston

Click here for an animation of a 20-foot storm surge covering Galveston, Texas. This could happen in reality tonight. This is why the National Hurricane Center warns that those who stay put on Galveston Island face “certain death.”

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Natural Disasters | Leave a comment

Barrier islands and hurricanes has a timely article: Ike Underscores Foolishness of Building on Barrier Islands.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, many (including me) questioned the wisdom of having a city in a sinking swamp along a river that would rather run in a different channel. I’m not saying I’m in favor of abandoning New Orleans now that its there, though that option should at least be on the table. Knowing what we know now, we would not choose the land between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain for a major city.

The same goes for building cities on barrier islands: long, linear islands that run parallel to much of the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Look at a map of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, or Long Island of New York, and you will see these stringy islands along the coastlines. These sandy islands seldom have high points more than one or two meters above sea level, and naturally change a bit with each major storm. Many of our beach resorts are found on these low-lying islands: South Padre Island, Galveston, Gulf Shores, Daytona Beach, Hilton Head Island, Atlantic City; and others are magnets for beach lovers, such as Padre Island and Cape Hattaras.

These barrier islands are rather dangerous places to build resorts, hotels, and beach houses for a number of reasons:

  • They are made almost entirely of sand, with no bedrock.
  • They have low elevations, making them vulnerable to being washed completely over in storms.
  • Being made of sand, they naturally change their shape over time, especially when hit by major storms.

Questions: If destroyed, should Galveston be rebuilt? Who should pay for it? If it is rebuilt, should it be with the understanding that the government and insurance won’t pay for its reconstruction again?

Continue to pray for the areas affected by Hurricane Ike, and for those helping them.

Image: Galveston Island (the “A” is on the city of Galveston) from

Grace and Peace

[Update 9/12/08: The Houston Chronicle science blog writer says:

Sensing the danger, the weather service was left to writing messages such as, “Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes will face certain death. Many residences of average construction directly on the coast will be destroyed. Widespread and devastating personal property damage is likely elsewhere.”

Unfortunately this may now come to pass on an island where more than 20,000 people remain to ride out a monster hurricane.

It is sad to see so many staying despite the warning of “certain death.”]

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Natural Disasters, Why Earth science matters | Leave a comment

Hurricane Ike — headed for Galveston & Houston

The deadliest natural disaster in US history was the Galveston hurricane of 1900 (they didn’t name hurricanes back then). The storm surge from this category 4 hurricane washed over much of Galveston Island, killing 6,000 to 12,000 people.

Galveston is now protected by a seawall, and much of the city has been raised to a higher elevation using earthen fill, but evacuation orders have been issued, and people in some areas are being told they face certain death if they stay put.

Hurricane Ike is expected to hit the Galveston and Houston areas Friday night or early Saturday morning, perhaps as a category 3 hurricane.

Map: 5-day cone from National Hurricane Center

Remember to pray for those in distress, and for those helping them.

Grace and Peace

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Meteorology, Natural Disasters | Leave a comment

Hurricane Ike — here we go again?

The five-day forecast for the path of Hurricane Ike (presently a category 4 hurricane), from the National Hurricane Center:

Pray for the people in the path of this storm, in the Bahamas, Cuba, and the US Gulf of Mexico coast.

Grace and Peace

September 6, 2008 Posted by | Meteorology, Natural Disasters | Leave a comment

Hurricane Gustav

Speaking of New Orleans, here is the NOAA prediction for the most likely path for Hurricane Gustav (actually, it is Tropical Storm Gustav right now, but it should strengthen and become a hurricane again soon).

It is unlikely that Gustav will be a category 4 or 5 hurricane like Katrina, but it could still do a lot of damage wherever it hits. This map is called a 5-day cone, with the stippled area from south Texas to the Florida panhandle indicating the possible landfall area, and the black dashed line being the most probable path.

MSNBC article: New Orleans asks: Will levees hold (HT: Geology News)

Grace and Peace

August 28, 2008 Posted by | Meteorology, Natural Disasters | Leave a comment