Samuel Raphael Franco

posts by Samuel Raphael Franco

Geocurrentcast Episode #6- Iraq, January 2010

Geocurrents.info is proud to present the latest installation in our ongoing Geocurrentcast series of video geography lectures.

This lecture provides a thorough review of regional geopolitics in Iraq, the upcoming census, new developments in the US campaign, and a detailed history of Iraq through today. This is a must watch for anyone interested in the intricacies of the country’s delicate ethnic geography.

Click to watch or download Geocurrentcast Episode 6: Iraq in 2010.

Geocurrentcast Episode #6- Iraq, January 2010 Read More »

The Capital Off with Mo Rocca & Claire

Check out former daily show correspondent Mo Rocca going toe to toe in a battle of world capitals with Claire Calzonetti, a former student of Professor Lewis, and producer for the Joy Behar show.
My favorite part of this, aside from Turkmenistan, is watching Mo jump around like a bunny, giddy with the power that comes with recalling world capitals like as easily as letters in the alphabet.
Enjoy.

The Capital Off with Mo Rocca & Claire Read More »

Geocurrentcast Episode #5- Afghanistan

I am proud to present to all of you the fifth installment in our ongoing series of Geocurrentcasts Video Lectures, which focuses on the history and geography of Afghanistan and the ongoing US Campaign.

Please post questions, feedback, and other relevant discussion on the lecture in the comments section of this post.

Geocurrentcast Episode #5- Afghanistan Read More »

Haiti’s Quake History and Why the Dominican Republic Should Worry

Haiti sits between two massive seismic plates, the Gonave Plate, part of the larger North American Plate, and the Caribbean Plate to the south. The capital, Port Au Prince lies less than 20 km from the Enriquillio-Plaintain Garden Fault (EPGFZ), the a convergence point between the two plates.

This fault is a ‘strike slip fault,’ where there is a deep vertical fracture between the two paltes, and friction is accrued horizontally. The Haiti quake, was caused by the pressures from the eastward motion of the Caribbean plate, which moves as shown in the model below from Purdue University Seismologist Eric Calais.
This model, from Caltech’s Anthony Sladen’s source model, dramatically represents the what happened when these plates unstuck, by showing how the surface of the earth was displaced by the event.

The area has built up seismic tension, since the EPGFZ’s last series of quakes in the mid 18th century. There were three major seismic events in a twenty year span, as the seismic tensions was relieved through a series of quakes. Here is the recent seismic history of the region, via the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences.
Strangely enough, there quakes were predicted a year ago, yet there was little action taken. In 2008 Paper, presentation to the Caribbean Conference, Professor Calais predicted that Haiti was due for a magnitude 7 or earthquake, owing to the seismic pressure the Enriquillo Plantain Garden Fault had accrued a from ‘slip debt’ of over two meters. Take a look at this prediction from Professor Calais, who is earning a reputation as a seismological prophet:

We confirm that the oblique convergence between Caribbean and North America in Hispaniola is partitioned between plate boundary parallel motion on the Septentrional and Enriquillo faults in the overriding plate and plate- boundary normal motion at the plate interface on the Northern Hispaniola Fault. To the east, the Caribbean/North America plate motion is accommodated by oblique slip on the faults bounding the Puerto Rico block to the north (Puerto Rico subduction) and to the south (Muertos thrust), with no evidence for partitioning. The spatial correlation between interplate coupling, strain partitioning and the subduction of buoyant oceanic asperities suggests that the latter enhance the transfer of interplate shear stresses to the overriding plate, facilitating strike-slip faulting in the overriding plate. The model slip rate deficit, together with the dates of large historical earthquakes, indicates the potential for a large (Mw7.5 or greater) earthquake on the Septentrional fault in the Dominican Republic. Similarly, the Enriquillo fault in Haiti is currently capable of a Mw7.2 earthquake if the entire elastic strain accumulated since the last major earthquake was released in a single event today. (Source)


It is important that the world takes Calais’ warning about the Septentrional Fault, with a great deal of Urgency. The fault, which runs through the Northern Dominican Republic is due for a quake even larger than that which occurred in Haiti.
The Dominican Republic should learn all that it can from Haiti’s experience, as they are proverbially walking down a geological hallway with a large kick me sign affixed to their back.
Today’s 6.0 aftershocks, combined with the historical patterns of quakes appearing waves have raised suspicions that this only the beginning of a larger regional alleviation of seismic pressure. The aftershocks are shown below from the USGS’s nifty google earth quake tracker.

Haiti’s Quake History and Why the Dominican Republic Should Worry Read More »

Transnistria–Stranger than Paradise

Ukrainian Foriegn Minister Pyotor Poroshenko and Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat and Vice Prime Minister Iurie Leanca have agreed to an official border demarcation process, for the beginning of the 2010 calendar year.

To nobody’s surprise, the border negotiations were held without a representative from Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, the de-facto rogue state that holds the east bank of the Dniester River, and some parts of the Western bank. In essence, the majority of the Ukranian-Moldovan border, as pictured here:

The state of Transnistria is recognized by only Abhkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian troops been stationed have occupied Transnistria since the end of the Transnistrian war of 1992. Transnistria has been effectively blockaded by both of its neighbors since, but it still holds vital territorial control over the Dniester River, Moldova’s corridor to the Black Sea.

Ukranian President Victor Yushenko, however, had to cancel his trip to ‘peg driving ceremony,’ to official demark the border, as PMR made it clear that he and his entourage were not welcome to mark a border, agreed on without their consent. Yushenko’s visit was subsequently cancelled by the PMR, who then threatened to interfere with the ceremony.

There is no love lost between Yushenko and the PMR, who are backed by Russian troops. After all, Russophiles have already given Yushenko a treatment of Dioxin poisoning.

While the border confirmation talks have been pushed in their respective nations domestic press as a way to ensure for better protection for Ukranian Minorities in Moldova, and vice versa, the negotiations are trivial without any process on the Transnistiran issue. A breakthrough is unlikely, given the icy diplomatic relations between both Moldova and the Ukraine towards Russia.

The Transnistrian issue is complicated by a near even ethnic split between Moldovans, Ukranians, and Russians in the region, if you’re willing to believe the Transnistrian government.

The near 30-30-30 ethnic split on this chart, is decent evidence that we won’t see a clean resolution of this issue any time soon. Note that the elimination of Jews from the ethnic map, owes to the fact that Transnistria was a concentration camp during the holocaust.

Even with EU pressure to resolve this regional border dispute, it seems 2010 will be another year of political limbo for Transnistria. NATO resolutions in the past on the area, have not budged the conflict, and the Russian Military is unlikely to withdraw.

It’s hard believe that these recent discussions between the Moldovan and Ukranian parties could be anything more than a mutual acknowledgment of the political stalemate, or discussions on how to approach Russia, who “guarantees the protection of its citizens.” As shown here, this is a polarizing issue in the region.

But, if we take a step back, Transnistria has always been a source of geographical comic relief.Take a look at their government’s ten facts to boast about. If they only had more than ten.

Unfortunately for us, the West’s best window in to the Transnistrian calamity has recently closed. The Tiraspol Times, a Pravda styled, English language newspaper focused on Transnistria has ceased publishing. However, you can revisit the glory days of Soviet styled journalism, at through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

The now defunct press, and the coat of arms make Transnistria appear as if it is, in fact the last vestige of the Soviet Union.

Scenic, Tiraspol, where the statue of Lenin still proudly stands in front of the capital. Looks like this going to be there for a while. At the very least, we can hope that the peace holds in Transnistria for another year.

 

Transnistria–Stranger than Paradise Read More »