Under the ground in the heavily populated coastal region from Washington D.C. to Boston, lies a layer of rock that could potentially act as a reflector for a geomagnetic storm, forcing it to pass through electronic systems twice, rather than only once.
Bloomberg reports that a forthcoming USGS study says the East Coast of the U.S. is at higher risk of this type of geomagnetic behavior.
Bloomberg‘s Brian K. Sullivan writes:
A solar storm is now viewed as enough of a risk in fact that grid operators across North America are working on plans to respond to just such a disturbance. And a draft of a soon-to-be-published U.S. Geological Survey report pinpoints the Eastern Seaboard as one of the areas most in danger.
That’s because this Paleozoic-era rock doesn’t let the energy from a major geomagnetic storm — a once-in-a-100-years kind of event — pass through it but instead acts as a backstop that sends the surge back up above the ground for a second shot at causing mayhem.
“It’s an active problem that a lot of people are trying to solve and understand,” said Christopher Balch, space scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.
Through a stroke of bad luck, the worst of these rocks basically traces the path of I-95 from Richmond, Virginia, to Portland, Maine, passing through Washington, New York and Boston along the way.
Read more here.