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Posts tagged ‘Earthquake’

China Rushes Relief After Quake Death Toll Rises to 186.

LUSHAN  — Luo Shiqiang sat near chunks of concrete, bricks and a ripped orange sofa and told how his grandfather was just returning from feeding chickens when their house collapsed and crushed him to death in this weekend’s powerful earthquake in southwestern China.

“We lost everything in such a short time,” the 20-year-old college student said Sunday. He said his cousin also was injured in the collapse, but that other members of his family were spared because they were out working in the fields of hard-hit Longmen village in Lushan county.

Saturday’s earthquake in Sichuan province killed at least 186 people, injured more than 11,000 and left nearly two dozen missing. Most of the dead were in the rural communities around Ya’an city, along the same fault line where a devastating quake to the north killed more than 90,000 people in Sichuan and neighboring areas five years ago in one of China’s worst natural disasters.

The Lushan and Baoxing counties hardest-hit on Saturday had escaped the worst of the damage in the 2008 quake, and residents there said they benefited little from the region’s rebuilding after the disaster, with no special reinforcements made or new evacuation procedures introduced in their remote communities.

Luo said he wished more had been done to make his community’s buildings quake-resistant. “Maybe the country’s leaders really wanted to help us, but when it comes to the lower levels the officials don’t carry it out,” he said.

Relief teams flew in helicopters and dynamited through landslides Sunday to reach some of the most isolated communities, where rescuers in orange overalls led search dogs through piles of brick, concrete and wood debris to search for survivors.

Many residents complained that although emergency teams were quick to carry away bodies and search for survivors, they had so far done little to distribute aid. “No water, no shelter,” read a hand-written sign held up by children on a roadside in Longmen.

“I was working in the field when I heard the explosions of the earthquake, and I turned around and saw my house simply flatten in front of me,” said Fu Qiuyue, a 70-year-old rapeseed farmer in Longmen.

Fu sat with her husband, Ren Dehua, in a makeshift shelter of logs and a plastic sheet on a patch of grass near where a helicopter had parked to reach their community of terraced grain and vegetable fields. She said the collapse of the house had crushed eight pigs to death.

“It was the scariest sound I have ever heard,” she said.

The quake — measured by China’s earthquake administration at magnitude 7.0 and by the U.S. Geological Survey at 6.6 — struck shortly after 8 a.m. on Saturday. Tens of thousands of people moved into tents or cars, unable to return home or too afraid to go back as aftershocks continued to jolt the region.

The quake killed at least 186 people, left 21 missing and injured 11,393, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted the provincial emergency command center as saying.

As in most natural disasters, the government mobilized thousands of soldiers and others, sending excavators and other heavy machinery as well as tents, blankets and other emergency supplies. Two soldiers died after their vehicle slid off a road and rolled down a cliff, state media reported.

The Chinese Red Cross said it had deployed relief teams with supplies of food, water, medicine and rescue equipment to the disaster areas.

Lushan, where the quake struck, lies where the fertile Sichuan plain meets foothills that eventually rise to the Tibetan plateau and sits atop the Longmenshan fault, where the 2008 quake struck.

The seat of Lushan county has been turned into a large refugee camp, with tents set up on open spaces, and volunteers doling out noodles and boxed meals to survivors from stalls and the backs of vans.

A large van with a convertible side served as a mobile bank with an ATM, military medical trucks provided X-rays for people with minor injuries, and military doctors administered basic first aid, applying iodine solution to cuts and examining bruises.

Patients with minor ailments were lying in tents in the yard of the local hospital, which was wrecked by the quake — with the most severely injured patients sent to the provincial capital. With a limited water supply and buildings inaccessible, sanitation is a problem for the survivors.

Every so often, an aftershock was felt Sunday, sending murmurs through the crowds and shaking windows of buildings.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Striking gold: Earthquakes deposit precious metal.

Solid gold can be deposited in Earth’s crust “almost instantaneously” during earthquakes, said a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday.

The gold is formed when a tremor splits open a fluid-filled cavity in the Earth’s crust, causing a sudden drop in pressure, according to a team of Australian researchers.

This, in turn, causes the fluid to expand rapidly and evaporate, and any gold particles that had been dissolved in it to “precipitate almost immediately”, said a Nature press release.

“Repeated earthquakes could therefore lead to the build up of economic-grade gold deposits.”

The researchers said much of the world’s known gold was derived from quarts veins that were formed during geological periods of mountain building as long as three billion years ago.

The veins formed during earthquakes, but the magnitude of pressure fluctuations or how they drove gold mineralisation were not known.

For this study, researchers used a numerical model to simulate the drop in pressure experienced in a fluid-filled fault cavity during an earthquake.

In so doing, they answered a long-standing question about the world’s gold resources — how the metal becomes so concentrated from a highly dissolved state to a solid, mineable one.

The study said single tremors would not generate economically viable gold deposits, which were built up one thin coating at a time.

To form a 100 tonne gold vein deposit would take less than 100,000 years, the team wrote.



Earthquake shakes wide area of S. California.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An earthquake rolled through a wide swath of Southern California late Monday morning but there were no immediate reports of damage.

The 9:55 a.m. quake had an estimated magnitude of 4.7, said Nick Scheckel, seismic analyst at theCalifornia Institute of Technology’s seismological laboratory. He said a number of aftershocks were occurring.

The epicenter was about a dozen miles from the desert town of Anza, about 100 miles southeast ofLos Angeles.

The temblor was felt sharply in the local area and caused a swaying or rolling motion in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Near the epicenter, Palms Springs police Sgt. Harvey Reed said his department received no reports of damage or injuries. There were no other immediate reports of damage in the region.

Susie Bride, a cashier at Cahuilla Mountain Market and Cafe in Anza, said the quake seemed to last awhile but didn’t do any damage to the business.

“It kind of shook and then I thought, ‘God, is that an earthquake?’ It kind of shook and then it rolled a little bit and then it shook again,” she said.


Associated Press

Italian Scientists Appeal Earthquake Manslaughter Verdict.

The six scientists and one government official convicted of manslaughter over statements they made before a 2009 earthquake that killed 309 in the town of L’Aquila, Italy, have filed appeals against the verdict.

All seven met the March 6 deadline for filing, according to a Nature News blog.

Judge Marco Billi sentenced the seismologists and official to six years in prison on Oct. 22, 2012, after a yearlong trial. Three judges are expected to oversee the appeals trials, and in the meantime the prison sentences will remain on hold, Nature News reports.

The prosecutors contended that at a March 31 meeting in L’Aquila the defendants had downplayed the risks of a large earthquake after a series of tremors shook the Italian city in early 2009. On April 6, 2009, a magnitude-6.3 quake hit, and 29 people who would have fled their homes stayed put, only to be killed when the buildings collapsed. [See Photos of L’Aquila Earthquake Destruction]

At the controversial meeting, one of the defendants, earth scientist Enzo Boschi noted the uncertainty, saying a large earthquake was “unlikely,” but saying that the possibility could not be excluded. However, a press conference that followed saw another telling citizens there was “no danger.”

The verdict drew ire and condemnation from seismologists and other earth scientists around the globe.

“The idea is ridiculous, to hold scientists responsible for public policy,” said Chris Goldfinger, a professor of geology and geophysics at Oregon State University, on the day of the verdict. “First, scientists have almost zero ability to predict earthquakes, and second, have no direct responsibility for public policy. Something has gone seriously wrong in the Italian legal system.”

The defendants’ attorneys, in their appeals, are asking for the verdict to be overturned and all charges dropped, Nature News reports. They are arguing that all of the statements made during the March 31 meeting were scientifically accurate, and that political authorities, not this panel, should have the responsibility of informing the public of the risk.

Knowing whether small quakes are foreshocks for a larger temblor is impossible, according to seismologists. A 1988 study of other quake-prone Italian regions found, for example, that about half of large quakes were preceded by weaker foreshocks. But only 2 percent of small quake swarms heralded a larger rupture.

By Live Science Staff |

Follow LiveScience @livescienceFacebookor Google+. Original article on

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tsunamis, Earthquakes Overdue in Lake Tahoe.



SAN FRANCISCO — A tsunami-producing fault in Lake Tahoe is overdue for another earthquake, scientists said here yesterday (Dec. 4) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The West Tahoe Fault is capable of producing a magnitude-7.3 earthquake and tsunamis up to 30 feet (10 meters) high in the clear blue lake, where million-dollar homes line the shore, researchers said.

Earthquakes strike every 3,000 to 4,000 years on the fault, and the most recent shaker was 4,500 years ago, indicating the fault is overdue for another earthquake, said Jillian Maloney, a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

The West Tahoe fault defines the west shore of the lake, coming on shore at Baldwin Beach, passing through the southern third of Fallen Leaf Lake, and then descending into Christmas Valley near Echo Summit.

Underwater tracking

To trace the fault’s history, Maloney and her colleagues examined data from a CHIRP seismic imaging system, which details underwater sediment layers at very high resolution. (CHIRP stands for compressed high intensity radar pulse.) The researchers correlated landslide deposits, which could be related to past earthquakes, throughout western Lake Tahoe and in small lakes immediately to the south with radiocarbon dates from the sediments.

The West Tahoe Fault has a complicated history, the analysis reveals. The fault appears to alternate between breaking all at once, in a 31-mile long (50 kilometer) fracture, and in smaller, shorter segments. The discovery has implications for the Tahoe’s seismic hazard, because the size of an earthquake relates to the length of a fault rupture, Maloney said. The biggest earthquakes come from the longest fault fractures.

The correlations, while still at an early stage, indicate the last time the fault’s entire length ruptured was 7,800 years ago, Maloney told OurAmazingPlanet. More recent quakes occurred on individual segments, she said.

Tsunami risk

Because the fault crosses the lake, scientists worry a future earthquake will cause a tsunami in Lake Tahoe. The monster waves could form in two ways: by the fault displacing ground under the lake, similar to Japan’s Tohoku tsunami, or by causing landslides that displace the water. A combination of both could also create an even bigger wave.

Layers of sediment preserved in and around Lake Tahoe record evidence of past tsunamis, said Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory in Reno.

However, having smaller earthquakes on the West Tahoe Fault would be better for the ski town. “If it breaks up into multiple segments, it might not be as great a tsunami risk,” Kent told OurAmazingPlanet.

The most recent earthquake in the Tahoe region was about 575 years ago, on the Incline Fault, which becomes active about every 10,000 to 15,000 years. Scientists estimate its earthquake size potential at magnitude 7.

At more than 1,645 feet (501 meters) deep, Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California and Nevada border in the seismically active Sierra Nevada region, is one of the world’s deepest freshwater lakes.


By Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer |

Reach Becky Oskin at Follow her on Twitter @beckyoskin. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We’re also on Facebook and Google+.

Copyright 2012 OurAmazingPlanet, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Holy Spirit Prompting Saves Family From Costa Rican Earthquake.

Costa Rica earthquake damage
(OM International)

In the town of Valverde Vega Sarchí, Costa Rica, the people continue their lives in silence. A number of the town’s families were affected by the earthquake disaster that took place on 5 September. Many of these people don’t know how they will recover. They have many questions about the future, but the government seems to have no answers and gives no relief.

Valverde Vega Sarchí is filled with loneliness and sadness, but even amidst the sadness are a few lingering smiles. Hope can be found in the hearts of Don Ricardo and his wife, among others, who survived the earthquake by God’s grace. Their household is now cultivating a seed of encouragement.

“I was setting up a ladder to climb to the roof. At that very moment my wife called me,” Ricardo recalled. With tears in his eyes, he showed team members of OM Costa Rica his house, destroyed by the 7.9 earthquake.

“Minutes later I walked into my house and it started to move around out of control, the only thing I thought about was my wife and my son,” he said. “I was trying to force the door, but I was completely pressed against the wall. Seconds later the ground began to open. A large hole opened and closed in my living room floor. God did not allow me to climb that ladder, because if I had I would’ve been dead today. Definitely, I have another chance, but I feel that this is not my home anymore.”

It was very moving for the OM Costa Rica team to hear these people open their hearts and share their memories of panic and helplessness.

“We firmly believe that God will bring the peace that this devastated town needs,” said a team member. “We trust that the necessary resources will reach each one of these people. Thank you to every person who has taken the time to pray for Costa Rica at this time of national grief. Please continue to pray that God would use this catastrophe for good by transforming lives in the town of Sarchi.”


Italy’s Top Scientists Resign Their Government Posts After Quake Conviction.


If your colleagues were sentenced to jail for failing to predict the future, you’d probably be upset too. On Tuesday, some of Italy’s top scientists resigned from the government’s disaster agency to protest the manslaughter conviction of seven seismologists for failing to predict the devastating earthquake in L’Aquila in 2009. As we noted yesterday, scientists across the world were appalled at the idea of holding scientists criminally responsible for failing to accurately predict the severity of future earthquakes, something that is notoriously difficult to do. Now the Italian government will have fewer scientists to call on to handle disasters.

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The biggest name to clock out is one of Italy’s top phyicists, Luciano Maiami.  A former head of the particle physics laboratory CERN in Geneva, Maiami is currently the head of Italy’s top disaster body, the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, which the seven convicted scientists were members. They received sentences of six years in prison for what prosecutors said were “incomplete, imprecise and contradictory” statements about the dangers of the quake. Maiami joined several other top scientists by declaring the verdict a “big mistake,” and said he resigned because “there aren’t the conditions to work serenely.”

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“These are professionals who spoke in good faith and were by no means motivated by personal interests, they had always said that it is not possible to predict an earthquake,” he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “It is impossible to produce serious, professional and disinterested advice under this mad judicial and media pressure. This sort of thing doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.” In no uncertain terms, he said, “This is the end of scientists giving consultations to the state.”

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Agence France Presse reports that Mauro Dolce, head of the Civil Protection‘s seismic risk office, also resigned, and the rest of the committee will soon do the same. One of those members, Roberto Vinci, said he resigned “to show support for those who, perhaps having reacted with a certain naivety and certainly under great pressure, have been accused of manslaughter.”

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If you need a good barometer for the level of international scientific outrage brimming over the conviction, CNN has a good expert roundup here. But Roger Musson, head of seismic hazard and archives at the British Geological Survey, pretty much summed up the angst in his tweet: “It’s chilling that people can be jailed for giving a scientific opinion in the line of their work.”


By John Hudson | The Atlantic Wire

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