My Earthquake-Tsunami Explainer

No TV station for me now, but I do have a webcam and some editing software. Video production has been democratized!

When the earthquake struck Japan last week I missed being on-the-air where I could add a little context to what you were seeing. Meteorologists are usually treated as the station scientist. That was a role I embraced and enjoyed.

No TV station for me now, but I do have a webcam and some editing software. Video production has been democratized!

This little presentation isn’t as sophisticated as what I would have been able to do with the better equipment and more highly skilled folks I worked with for years. Hopefully it will give you a better understanding of what happened.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Click the test pattern to play the video.

Oops: I said Thursday March 11, but meant Friday March 11. Please excuse the error.

[jwplayer image=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/bars_000000.jpeg” mediaid=”9171″]

95 thoughts on “My Earthquake-Tsunami Explainer”

  1. Hello Fellow Night Owl – Thanks so much for this report, it was great! Very scary situations for Japan and its not over yet. I think since we’ve lost an hour, I’m heading to bed but it was wonderful to hear you “broadcast” again, even without a television station. 🙂

  2. Hi Geoff,
    Thank you so much for that information, So great to hear your voice again and see your face.

  3. Thanks Geoff. I’ve missed hearing your calm, sensible, easily understood way of explaining weather events.

  4. Thanks so much for explaining that Geof! Scary, scary stuff. There has been speculation that all of these ‘disasters’ are leading to some sort of catastrophic event in history. Other schools of thought suggest we have these disasters often and the number is not increasing. Where do you stand on that debate? Is the current position of the moon affecting earth? Are these disasters occuring more frequently?
    Would love to have your input! Miss seeing you on tv – hope someone smart snatches you up soon 🙂

    1. Cyndi –

      When I was a kid there was a tsunami (called a tidal wave) that hit Crescent City, CA. There was huge damage but no video or film. The difference today is we can see everything from everywhere instantly.

  5. Geoff, great explanation, illustrations and video. Clear concise and just perfect. Wonderful to see you and hear your voice. More than ever it makes us realize how very much we have missed you. Keep up the great work. Hoping for good news about your situation soon and that it is in Conn.By the way you look wonderful despite everything.

  6. Geoff, sooooo appreciate you remaining our meteorological teacher! You did a great job reporting the earthquake/tsunami to me! This could be your future…online meteorologist! I would love daily reports for Litchfield County please!!! 🙂

  7. Good morning Geoff!
    It was great to see you ‘on-air’ with your report on the tragedy in Japan. I have missed seeing you on News 8 and I’m having a difficult time embracing the many changes there. Don’t know exactly why ‘they’ are doing this but change is never easy for any of us. I have lived here (again-grew up in West Haven-left at 18-back at 36)since 1986 so you have been in my living room those many evenings. As I say, it hasn’t been easy getting used to the two Steves an WTNH, but I wish you well.
    Have a great Sunday.
    Christine from North Haven.

  8. Geoff….THANK YOU SO MUCH. One of the “things” I miss about you most was your detailed explanations….and how you make it easy for us lay people to understand!!! Nobody does it better!!!
    I have heard a LOT of WHO HA about the Space Shuttle causing these events…or the “Super Moon”…what is your take on all this malarkey??
    Looking forward to “seeing” more of you in the future!!

    1. Malarkey is right! It is nearly impossible for mere mortals to totally understand the massive power stored in the Pacific Plate/North American Plate subduction zone and released in the earthquake! It is much larger than any other earthly force I can think of.

  9. Your explanation was very, very helpful…what a great video. Thanks! It makes me realize how much I miss seeing you on air.

  10. dont watch channel 8 anymore because it is just not the same.
    you should have your own weather reporting on the web


  11. Thank You Geoff!!! I just love the way you explain this,its as tho i am in a classroom. My household misses you terribly! But You will be rewarded greatly!!! Bless You and Family!!! JoAnn from Groton!!!!

  12. Thanks, Geoff! I really needed a “Fox-fix”! Please post more…
    and best of luck finding a new PAYING gig! We’ll be watching…

  13. Hi Geoff……..a very concise yet complete and illuminating explanation for us “lay folks”. The graphics really help illustrate the tremendous power that the earth’s natural forces are able to generate and release. Thanks for turning on so many mental light bulbs!……..

  14. Thanks, Geoff! I needed that explanation… now, why couldn’t the other folks on TV explained it like that, rather than just how horrific & devastating it was? Granted it was BAD, but your explanation lets us know it was a natural occurance and not some end of the times sign… and good luck on the job-front.

  15. Geoff,
    Nice to see you again. Pretty good final product (edited video) if I do say so.
    Not something I think I could “chew” on my own!

    Keep them coming!

  16. Geoff,

    Great to see you again and it finally makes sense… Haven’t heard someone explain it that way– which is all us “lay people” needed!

    Thanks!!! Keep ’em coming and good luck with the job hunt!

  17. Geoff,

    Miss you terribly. As always, you did an awesome job explaining this disaster for us. Wonderful to see you and hear your voice again.

  18. Thanks Geoff — we miss seeing you on air! This was great and helped make sense of what was happening. I had read some articles where commenters were stating the wave couldn’t move that fast — now I know why.

    Keep up the mini-video’s — you could be onto a whole new thing. I could see some teachers using your video explanations in science and social studies classes this week.

  19. Loved the video – brought me right back to Geology class, slot of which I managed to remember for some reason.

    I think you should start doing some similar videos when you have time, kinda like the Inside Space ones you did. You’ve got a camera and the Internet, and there are enough people out there making money at it – you could give them a run for their money!

    My only complaint: Flash video. For various “religious” and technical reasons, I live mostly Flash free – there’s enough other options are are as good if not better – and easier to use, both on your end and the viewers end. But I think this may be a discussion better held in another forum.

    Glad to see you again!

  20. As a retired physics teacher, I want to compliment you on the great explanation. If I were still teaching, I would have used it in my class! It was great to see you again.

  21. Ahh, an explanation for us! Thanks, Geoff! I was pining away for your input when this happened since I honestly don’t know how this whole process works. You’ve really helped clear it up and it was great seeing you on air! Liked Alan’s comment–we all needed a “FOX FIX!” 😀

  22. Thank you for still being there for us even though not being paid for it. Miss you on the nightly news you always explained the weather to us not just TOLD us the weather. While the events in Japan are heart wrenching it sorta helps knowing why these things happen. I am concerned by the 2 second blurb about the shore line moved by 8 feet and the shift in the earth’s axis. There was no explaination on the effect on the world as a whole.
    What are the future effects of this worldwide?
    If I were truly a Witch, as my children think, I would surly cast a spell that would bring you back to the News 8 nightly news broadcasts. Best of luck for all your future endeavors.

    1. Gammie – Trillions of gallons of water were displaced along with a huge piece of the Earth’s crust. Eight feet of movement is a lot, but this was an immense quake.

  23. Hummm .. Hey goeff,

    Do you know that you can bring in some money while blogging ??? I just watched the presentation and it hit me. You can get ad money and start Video Blogging about CT weather, and other science. And Guess What ????? NO CLOCK , YEA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. David – It’s a business that’s extremely difficult to monetize. The return on web surfing eyeballs in really tiny at the moment.

      1. Dear Goeff,

        Aww man to bad, I had gradiose Idea’s about volunteering and we would usher in a goeff fox webcast profitable enough. And we would get the community to see you do it and you wouldn’t need to go anywhere and we would be able to see you everyday and there would be justice for you and us. But with your permission I would like to see if there is money out there for you for this if it is ok with you. -Dave

  24. Geoff: I have missed you sooooo much. It was great to get to see and hear you again. Thank for you explaining the earthquake and tsunami. Really, I can not express how much you are missed. I like David Ware’s idea, posted above mine. It would provide us with access to each other until your snapped up by some forward thinking group of employers.

  25. Its wonderful to see you and hear your voice! You are so missed as it is clearly stated over and over. I hope you will do more of this it was great! Still hoping to hear soon that we will be seeing you locally forcasting the weather…. right were you belong!!

  26. Thanks so much, very informative. Now what about the explosion of those Nuke plants? Is the food and water in that area affected? Also, will the U. S. feel any affects with the radiation? One more thing. My son and his wife are planning a vacation in Boro Bora in the So, Pacific the end of March. Do you think their plans should be canceled. Again, thanks so much for the info..Enjoy all your blogs etc. Keep up the good work. Bless you, Joan

    1. The US and Bora Bora will be mainly fine. Any effect over that distance would be minuscule.

      Pouring seawater into the reactor was a very bad sign. That’s a desperation move and it means the plant is finished!

      The area around Chernobyl had to be evacuated after that disaster and it’s still a no man’s land today. We could see a similar outcome in parts of Japan. I am not a nuclear engineer. This is based on my rudimentary understanding of atomic energy.

      1. Hi Geoff, Thanks so much for the info. I could read your blogs, and listen to you talk about what you enjoy doing. Whether it is the weather, traveling, or your photo’s. You certainly have made everything clearer. Maybe a book is in your future….also. Take care, bless you, Joan

      2. Chernobyl was a graphite reactor, never a good design, but cheap. The boiling water reactors in Japan are considered, by some, to be inherently safer than the pressurized type. It’s worth noting that the pressurized light water reactor was designed to power, and fit in, submarines. The design was built large for power plants; not necessarily the best idea.

  27. Thanks! Aren’t all these 5+ & 6+ “after shocks” more earthquakes? Do NZ quake relate to Honshu besides both being on “Ring of Fire”? “Talk” to us more, I miss hearing you!

    1. They absolutely are earthquakes. Each order of magnitude represents a 10 times diminution.

      Magnitude Earthquake Effects Estimated Number
      Each Year
      2.5 or less Usually not felt, but can be recorded by seismograph. 900,000
      2.5 to 5.4 Often felt, but only causes minor damage. 30,000
      5.5 to 6.0 Slight damage to buildings and other structures. 500
      6.1 to 6.9 May cause a lot of damage in very populated areas. 100
      7.0 to 7.9 Major earthquake. Serious damage. 20
      8.0 or greater Great earthquake. Can totally destroy communities near the epicenter. One every 5 to 10 years
  28. Thanks for the lesson. Tyler turns 16 today, can you believe how far he has come form 1 pound 6 ounces? Our little man, has finally broke 100 pounds also. If I remember correctly Helaines birthday is around the corner. Happy Birthday!!
    Love to the family. Hope to see you all soon.

  29. Thank you Geoff, we’ll still take your take on things anytime! If you’ve got the time to make things like this, we’ll watch. You can even give a 6pm weather forecast each day, we’ll watch.

  30. Thanks Geoff!! Great explanation! Clear and concise. Thanks for helping me understand this. A few years back you helped me with a question about the factors behind the changes in sunrise/sunset times. I thank you again!

  31. Geoff, Thank you for putting that together for us. I like getting information in a clear concise manner. Without the fear factor that alot of the news seems to be today. It’s great to see you again. Looking forward to more. Thanks again. Terry

  32. Miss you Geoff. Can’t watch channel 8 anymore. Not the same.
    You always made my family understand more about the weather and weather patterns than anyone else. Can’t believe what has happened with Channel 8. Put a bunch of amateurs in all good slots (women included) with the exception of Ann

  33. Thank you so much, Geoff!! It’s not as much of a mystery to me, anymore. You just have a clear way of explaining things.

  34. Geoff, it was so wonderful seeing you on “TV” again. You have a way of explaining everything so wonderfully and clearly so that even someone like me who isn’t great in the sciences can understand what happened in Japan.

    I loved the graphics also. One question: what makes it now a 9 quake instead of an 8.9 quake?

    The tsunami explanation was fantastic, does this mean that out in deep ocean there could be a tsunami underneath you and you wouldn’t feel or see a thing?

    Boy, Channel 8 was stupid in letting you go, YOU’RE THE BEST!

    1. Magnitude is always an estimation so it’s subject to revision. I am told by a friend that actual ‘official’ number can have an effect on insurance and reinsurance coverage. I didn’t know that, but he is an expert.

      In the deep ocean a tsunami is hardly noticed. Forget the Poseidon Adventure scenario!

  35. Geoff,
    You look great, what a sight for sore eyes. Everyone misses you so much.
    Of course, your explaination of the earthquake was better than anyone I heard in the past days on any station. You’re so collected when you speak.So understandable. If you had been a teacher in my school,I would have had better grades! thanks for the blogs!!

  36. I can’t wait on my iPad! Let me know when you ve worked around that if in fact you are able! I m a science freak!

  37. Thanks Geoff! It is great to have you explaining these events to us again so a layman can understand what happened and why. One of your best qualities has always been the fact that you teach your viewers. We miss you and hope you find a new broadcast home soon.

  38. Geoff: Absolutely concise , easy to understand, explanation of the Japan tsunami. Its amazing that 8 would let you go. I think you and Ann came to 8 the same time in the mid 80’s, am I correct. I don’t know why they let experienced well liked people leave a station. Just look at all the responses you are getting here!

  39. Geoff, have a question for you…
    Which is (are?) the nearest-to-us-in-CT plate that could behave like the ones close to Japan did, producing a tsunami like the one they got? Are we safe up here, or do we have any dormant threats like this?
    Thanks for your answer.

    1. Earth's tectonic plates

      As you can see we’re far away. More importantly the boundary in the middle of the Atlantic is a divergent boundary which is the opposite of what happens in a subduction zone.

      There have been earthquakes in New England, but they are extremely rare and don’t have the same impact.

  40. Geoff,

    This was the best explanation ever!! Thank you!! My husband and I miss you tremendously, will not watch Channel 8 anymore. Hopefully we will see you soon!! By the response from your loyal fans on FB everyone would follow you- so stay in CT please!!!

  41. Have not been able to even bring myself to watch any “live/animated” GF videos, because it makes me too mad…until now, when I desperately wanted and needed a clear understanding of the earthquake and tsunami. Thanks for never disappointing us.

  42. Geoff,

    Miss your on-air reports from snowstorms, floods to even GREAT quakes, but your knack of telling how/why has never changed and hope it never will. I have been a fan of yours for as long as I can remember and will stay one to. I have learned how to track hurricanes, nor-easters and thunderstorms coming Connecticut’s way from you. Thanks again!!

  43. Hi Geoff! I don’t want to repeat what all have been saying here, but this is one of the biggest reasons we miss you broadcasting on air. I had not heard ANY of this. :-/ THANK YOU!

    In an answer to Cindi above, you mentioned tidal wave. So, am I getting this right? A tsunami is really a tidal wave? And if so, when or why the name change?

    Thank you for the pictures re. the plates, too!

  44. BTW in the early 1980s I remember being in my parents’ kitchen (in Chester, CT) getting ready to take the garbage out when the glass in the windows started rattling and the pans in the oven started shaking. I thought a huge truck must be going by the house causing all this. Later that day my dad came home from a meeting nearby where he said the clock had fallen off the wall. We were surprised then to hear that a small earthquake had actually taken place here. Never before or since have I felt anything like that (with the exception of a few little shake-ups I was in in southern Cal.) Is there potential for a big earthquake to ever hit CT?

  45. Hello Geoff, I was so thrilled to see your video it helped to see the visual effects, and to hear your explanation there truly is no one like you it is your enthusiasm and true love of your “game” that comes through. I wish and hope you remain here in CT.

  46. Here’s the official rundown of Connecticut’s earthquake potential from the USGS.

    The lack of historical and instrumental reports of strong earthquakes in Connecticut suggests that State to be a region of very minor seismic activity, even when compared to other States in the northeast region.

    The cause of “rumblings” in the area near Moodus, a few miles north of East Haddam, had been a matter of scientific speculation for years. Native Indians called East Haddam Morehemoodus, or place of noises, and the town name “Moodus” derived from the Indian word. The earth noises, a peculiar type of earthquake rumbling, apparently have been occurring in that region for years, even prior to the advent of Europeans.

    The most severe earthquake in Connecticut’s history occurred at East Haddam on May 16, 1791.

    Describing that earthquake an observer said: “It began at 8 o’clock p.m., with two very heavy shocks in quick succession. The first was the most powerful; the earth appeared to undergo very violent convulsions. The stone walls were thrown down, chimneys were untopped, doors which were latched were thrown open, and a fissure in the ground of several rods in extent was afterwards discovered. Thirty lighter ones followed in a short time, and upwards of one hundred were counted in the course of the night.

    “The shock was felt at a great distance. It was so severe at Clinton, about 12 miles south, that a Capt. Benedict, walking the deck of his vessel, then lying in the harbor at that place, observed the fish to leap out of the water in every direction as far as his eyes could reach.”

    Still another report states: “the day after the earthquake in 1791, it is said that apertures and fissures were observed in the earth and rocks near Moodus River Falls, and that stones of several tons in weight were thrown from their places.”

    The record shows the next moderate tremor occurred at Hartford in April 1837. It jarred loose articles, set lamps swinging, and rang bells. Alarmed residents rushed from their homes into the streets.

    In August 1840, an earthquake of similar intensity centered a few miles southwest of the 1837 tremor. It shook Hartford quite strongly, and was felt at many points in Connecticut. No damage resulted, however. At Chester, not far from East Haddam, observers compared the tremor “to the rumble of thunder.” Its origin was apparently 10 to 20 miles north of New Haven.

    On June 30, 1858, New Haven was shaken by a moderate tremor at 10:45 in the evening. Residents reported rattling of glasses and a noise “like carriages crossing a bridge.” Derby residents were also shaken strongly by this earthquake.

    Seventeen years later, on July 28, an early morning tremor shook 2,000 square miles of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Rumbling noises were heard during this intensity V earthquake.

    The strongest tremor since that in 1791 hit near Hartford on November 14, 1925, at about 8 a.m. Plaster was knocked from walls, and many residents were frightened. At Windham, dishes were shaken from shelves, and at East Haddam, the familiar “Moodus” rumblings were noted.

    In March 1953, Stamford sustained a minor tremor that alarmed many. “Radiators beat a weird tattoo against the floor of the police station,” notes one report. Houses were jarred, and earth noises were heard. The tremor caused no damage.

    An intensity V earthquake in southern Connecticut occurred on November 3, 1968, at about 3:30 in the morning. Plaster cracked at Madison, furniture shifter at Chester, and small items fell and broke. Loud earth noises accompanied the tremor. The Moodus noises were noted once again at East Haddam.

    A few damaging shocks centering in neighboring States, and several Canadian tremors, have been noted by Connecticut citizens the past three hundred years.

    A devastating earthquake near Tros-Rivieres (Three Rivers), Quebec, on February 5, 1663, caused moderate effects in some areas of Connecticut. Sketchy accounts of this quake relate fantastic tales of mountains being thrown down and great forests sliding into the St. Lawrence River near its Quebec Center.

    Massachusetts shocks in November 1727 and November 1755 were felt strongly by some Connecticut citizenry. Both were intensity VIII at their epicenters, leaving behind collapsed walls, flattened chimneys, and other broken reminders common to most strong earthquakes.

    The Timiskaming, Ontario, earthquake in November 1935 was quite noticeable in Connecticut and other New England States. Several cracked windowpanes were noted at Cornwall, Connecticut. Because of the sparse population, damage at the epicenter of this tremor was insignificant. However, an indication of its severity was the large felt area – one million square miles of Canada and the United States.

    An earthquake near Massena, New York, in September 1944 was felt over a wide region. Mild effects were noticed by residents of Hartford, Marion, New Haven and Meriden, Connecticut. At its epicenter, the shock destroyed nearly all chimneys, crippled several buildings, and caused $2 million property damage in that region.

  47. Thank God you are back! I appreciate your explanation. However, while you were out, we had 2 back to back 12 inch snow storms this winter! What’s up with that? Should we expect the same next year (and invest in the roof rake racket)- or, was this just a fluke?

  48. Geoff,
    Great to see you and hear your voice too! Thank you for ALL of your much appreciated and knowledgable weather related explanations now and years past. I learn something new each and every time. I definitely miss you on air — and your humor too! I’ve switched to other weather forecast options! Hope to see you soon with a new Local TV station! There are few to none who can deliver the weather forecast as you do sharing indepth knowledge and some humor too. You have a very special talent! Wishing you the Best of all good things in life. Thank you!

  49. Geoff – The loss of you on Channel 8 has resulted in the loss of me as a viewer to the station. You were always such a bright spot and I always enjoyed listening to you. I have no idea what led to the change, but I only wish you well!

  50. Geoff, The other guy is pretty good as weather weather men go. I won’t take that away from him. We like what you did here and hope to see and here from you again maybe on a more regular basis. Maybe a nightly report via an “app” on the Iphone store. Hmmmm. A little advertiser support and your back in the game. Ha ha. Good luck.

  51. This is what we have missed. Thank God my kids had the benefit of growing up with Geof Fox and benefited by all you taught all of us…but now my grandchildren have been deprived of all of this…this morning before school my grandsons friend gave forth with and interrpretation of what happoened in Japan…I was shocked ..but i didnt know how to explain this to him…but i have saved this video…God Bless you GEOFFE AND NEVER DOUBT THAT YOU are the best…

  52. Yes – what Sharon said! I don’t remember the 1968 quake, but I do remember the big blackout in the northeast that was around 67 – 68 or so? Anyway, I guess we could get noticeable damage with a quake here in CT but are unlikely, per historical data, to ever get one that’s on par with CA or these overseas events?

  53. Hi Geoff

    I am saving this explanation for my husband to watch and also for my son. I read somewhere on the internet a question about could this have been predicted. There was never an answer, but I know you will give me one.

    Thanks so much for all you have done in the past to help us understand the weather, you are a kind, thoughtful person to put up this info.

    1. Prediction is VERY flaky. Too many false positives. Too much uncertainty. It would be distribute what’s known now.

  54. Geoff I miss the educational aspects of your weather reports. This video was amazing. Please keep it up! I hope to see you on the news again soon. I too have stopped watching news channel 8!

  55. Geoff, I moved from CT in November 2009 and have missed your weather reports. Nobody ever did the weather quite like you. I’ve been following what happened to you via facebook. It was nice to see your face! I hope that only good things will come to you.

  56. Thanks Geoff, so nice to see you. I have a question about the enormous whirlpool! How does something like this form and is it true that once it captures a boat/body there is no getting out? Do we have any idea of the velocity in something like this? How fast that water is moving? Thanks!

  57. I just came across this particular blog which reminds me of what I miss when I get the weather report. Do you have a daily list I could subscribe to with your thoughts on the upcoming weather? Perhaps you could do a daILY EMAIL and an occasional video like this one. Just Wondering!!

    I continue to wish you well in any future endeavors. I’m a firm believer in the idea that every difficulty [or curse] carries the seeds and potential for a blessing.
    Many Blessings

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