Category Archives: Earthquake

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How fracking caused earthquakes in the UK

How fracking caused earthquakes in the UK – environment – 02 November 2011 – New Scientist.

In April and May this year, two small earthquakes struck the UK near the town of Blackpool. Suspicion immediately fell on hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking – a controversial process to extract natural gas by fracturing the surrounding rock. A report has now confirmed that fracking caused the earthquakes.

New Scientist looks at what happened, and whether fracking is likely to cause more earthquakes.

When and where did the earthquakes happen?
A magnitude-2.3 earthquake occurred on 1 April, followed by a magnitude-1.5 quake on 27 May. Both occurred close to the Preese Hall drilling site, where Cuadrilla Resources was using fracking to extract gas from a shale bed.

Initial studies by the British Geological Survey (BGS) suggested that the quakes were linked to Cuadrilla’s fracking activities. The epicentre of the second quake was within 500 metres of the drilling site, at a depth of 2 kilometres. Less information was available on the first quake, but it seems to have been similar.

The link with fracking has now been confirmed by an independent report commissioned by Cuadrilla, Geomechanical Study of Bowland Shale Seismicity, which states: “Most likely, the repeated seismicity was induced by direct injection of fluid into the fault zone.”

The two geologists who wrote the report ran detailed models to show that the fracking could – and most likely did – provoke the quakes.

How did the fracking cause the earthquakes?
Fracking works by injecting huge volumes of water into the rocks surrounding a natural gas deposit. The water fractures the rocks, creating dozens of cracks through which the gas can escape to the surface.

The UK quakes were not caused by the violent rupturing of the rocks, as you might expect, but by the presence of water. This lubricates the rocks and pushes them apart, allowing them to slip past each other. “It’s a bit like oiling the fault,” says Brian Baptie of the BGS.

Seismologists have not been able to find the fault that moved, probably because it is tiny. Baptie says the surface area of the fault is likely to be just 100 metres by 100 metres, and that the rocks moved by about 1 centimetre – the seismological equivalent of a needle in a haystack.

So should we expect lots more earthquakes from fracking?
It’s difficult to say. Fracking has been going on in the US for decades, and has become much more common in recent years, yet evidence that it causes earthquakes has so far been elusive. “This is one of the first times felt earthquakes have been associated with fracking,” Baptie says.

The Cuadrilla report says the earthquakes occurred because of a rare combination of circumstances: the fault was already under stress, was brittle enough to fracture and had space for large amounts of water that could lubricate it. The report says this is unlikely to happen again at the Preese Hall site.

Baptie is not so sure. He says small faults are probably common in deep rocks, but go undetected because of their size. “It seems quite possible, given the same injection scheme in the same well, that there could be further earthquakes,” he says.

Cuadrilla is proposing to monitor seismic activity around its fracking site. If earthquakes begin to occur, it could reduce the flow of water into the well, or even pump it back out, preventing the bigger quakes. Baptie says such monitoring is now necessary to avoid further quakes at fracking sites.

Are these earthquakes dangerous?
Not particularly. Magnitude-2.3 earthquakes can shake the ground enough for people to notice, especially if they occur close to the surface, but damage is normally limited to objects falling off shelves.

According to Baptie, the UK gets an average of 15 magnitude-2.3 earthquakes every year, so the quakes produced by the fracking are not out of the ordinary.

History of deadly earthquakes

BBC News – History of deadly earthquakes.

Does NOT include the 6.9 that just hit Peru…..

 

Christchurch earthquake scene Many of the homes damaged in New Zealand’s Christchurch quake cannot be rebuilt
How earthquakes happen

Earthquakes have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the last 100 years and improvements in technology have only slightly reduced the death toll.

23 October 2011

More than 200 people are killed and 1,000 are injured in a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake which hits south-eastern Turkey; many of the victims are in the town of Ercis, where dozens of buildings have fallen.

11 March 2011

A devastating magnitude 8.9 quake strikes Japan, leaving more than 20,000 people dead or missing. The tremor generates a massive tsunami along the Japanese coast and triggers the world’s biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

22 February 2011

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake shatters the New Zealand city of Christchurch, killing more than 160 people and damaging some 100,000 homes.

14 April 2010

At least 400 people die after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake strikes western China’s Qinghai province.

27 February 2010

A magnitude 8.8 earthquake hits central Chile north-east of the second city, Concepcion. Official figures put the total number of people at over 700.

12 January 2010

About 230,000 die in and around the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, as a 7.0 magnitude earthquake strikes the city.

30 September 2009

At least 1,000 people die and at least 1,000 remain missing after an earthquake strikes the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

6 April 2009

An earthquake hits the historic Italian city of L’Aquila, killing about 300 people.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

29 October 2008

Up to 300 people are killed in the Pakistani province of Balochistan after an earthquake of 6.4 magnitude struck 45 miles (70km) north of Quetta.

12 May 2008

Up to 87,000 people are killed or missing and as many as 370,000 injured by an earthquake in just one county in China’s south-western Sichuan province.

The tremor, measuring 7.8, struck 57 miles (92km) from the provincial capital Chengdu during the early afternoon.

15 August 2007

At least 519 people are killed in Peru’s coastal province of Ica, as a 7.90-magnitude undersea earthquake strikes about 90 miles (145km) south-east of the capital, Lima.

17 July 2006

A 7.7 magnitude undersea earthquake triggers a tsunami that strikes a 125 miles (200km) stretch of the southern coast of Java, killing more than 650 people on the Indonesian island.

27 May 2006

More than 5,700 people die when a magnitude 6.2 quake hits the Indonesian island of Java, devastating the city of Yogyakarta and surrounding areas.

1 April 2006

Seventy people are killed and some 1,200 injured when an earthquake measuring 6.0 strikes a remote region of western Iran.

8 October 2005

An earthquake measuring 7.6 strikes northern Pakistan and the disputed Kashmir region, killing more than 73,000 people and leaving millions homeless.

28 March 2005

About 1,300 people are killed in an 8.7 magnitude quake off the coast of the Indonesian island of Nias, west of Sumatra.

22 February 2005

Hundreds die in a 6.4 magnitude quake centred in a remote area near Zarand in Iran’s Kerman province.

26 December 2004

Hundreds of thousands are killed across Asia when an earthquake measuring 9.2 triggers sea surges that spread across the region.

24 February 2004

At least 500 people die in an earthquake which strikes towns on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast.

26 December 2003

More than 26,000 people are killed when an earthquake destroys the historic city of Bam in southern Iran.

21 May 2003

Algeria suffers its worst earthquake in more than two decades. More than 2,000 people die and more than 8,000 are injured in a quake felt across the sea in Spain.

1 May 2003

More than 160 people are killed, including 83 children in a collapsed dormitory, in south-eastern Turkey.

24 February 2003

More than 260 people die and almost 10,000 homes are destroyed in Xinjiang region, in western China.

31 October 2002

Italy is traumatised by the loss of an entire class of children, killed in the southern village of San Giuliano di Puglia when their school building collapses on them.

26 January 2001

An earthquake measuring magnitude 7.9 devastates much of Gujarat state in north-western India, killing nearly 20,000 people and making more than a million homeless. Bhuj and Ahmedabad are among the towns worst hit.

12 November 1999

Around 400 people die when an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale strikes Ducze, in north-west Turkey.

21 September 1999

Taiwan is hit by a quake measuring 7.6 that kills nearly 2,500 people and causes damage to every town on the island.

17 August 1999

An magnitude 7.4 earthquake rocks the Turkish cities of Izmit and Istanbul, leaving more than 17,000 dead and many more injured.

30 May 1998

Northern Afghanistan is hit by a major earthquake, killing 4,000 people.

May 1997

More than 1,600 killed in Birjand, eastern Iran, in an earthquake of magnitude 7.1.

27 May 1995

The far eastern island of Sakhalin is hit by a massive earthquake, measuring 7.5, which claims the lives of 1,989 Russians.

17 January 1995

The Hyogo quake hits the city of Kobe in Japan, killing 6,430 people.

30 September 1993

About 10,000 villagers are killed in western and southern India.

21 June 1990

About 40,000 people die in a tremor in the northern Iranian province of Gilan.

7 December 1988

An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale devastates north-west Armenia, killing 25,000 people.

19 September 1985

Mexico City is shaken by a huge earthquake which razes buildings and kills 10,000 people.

4 March 1977

Some 1,500 people are killed in an earthquake that hit close to the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

28 July 1976

The Chinese city of Tangshan is reduced to rubble in a quake that claims at least 250,000 lives.

23 December 1972

Up to 10,000 people are killed in the Nicaraguan capital Managua by an earthquake that measures 6.5 on the Richter scale. The devastation caused by the earthquake was blamed on badly built high-rise buildings that easily collapsed.

31 May 1970

An earthquake high in the Peruvian Andes triggers a landslide burying the town of Yungay and killing 66,000 people.

26 July 1963

An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale strikes the Macedonian capital of Skopje killing 1,000 and leaving 100,000 homeless.

22 May 1960

The world’s strongest recorded earthquake devastates Chile, with a reading of 9.5 on the Richter scale. A tsunami 30ft (10m) high eliminates entire villages in Chile and kills 61 hundreds of miles away in Hawaii.

1 September 1923

The Great Kanto earthquake, with its epicentre just outside Tokyo, claims the lives of 142,800 people in the Japanese capital.

18 April 1906

San Francisco is hit by a series of violent shocks which last up to a minute. Between 700 and 3,000 people die either from collapsing buildings or in the subsequent fire.

Death toll soars from Turkish quake

Death toll soars from Turkish quake – CNN.

The death toll from the massive earthquake that shook eastern Turkey over the weekend rose to 535 Thursday, up from 471 the day before, but crews have been able to rescue 185 people alive from the rubble, Turkish officials said.

In addition, about 2,300 people were injured by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Sunday, according to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Relief Agency.

Meanwhile, crews rescued 18-year-old Imdat Padak alive from the rubble of an apartment building in Ercis almost 100 hours after the earthquake, the semi-official Anatolian new agency reported.

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After teams from Azerbaijan retrieved him, Padak was taken to a hospital for initial treatment, and then was airlifted by helicopter to Van.

Padak appeared not to have any significant trauma, but was suffering dehydration. He is reported to be a student from the village of Kiziloren and was taking courses while preparing for university entrance exams.

Earlier in the week, crews pulled a 2-week-old baby, Azra Karaduman, alive from the debris.

The developments came as there were reports of a moderate earthquake in the country’s south.

A 5.2 earthquake hit about 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the center of Sunday’s quake, near the border with Iraq, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

There were no immediate reports of damage from the latest quake.

Padak was the latest of several people found alive in the rubble days after Sunday’s quake. On Wednesday rescuers pulled two people from collapsed buildings.

Britain has pledged emergency tents for more than 5,500 people whose homes were destroyed, Home Secretary Theresa May said during a visit to Turkey Thursday.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15457897

Turkey will accept offers of aid from foreign countries to cope with the aftermath of the Van earthquake, after initially declining offers of help.

Officials said that, with more than 2,000 buildings destroyed, there was an urgent need for accommodation.

The death toll from the disaster stood at 461 but the Red Crescent fears hundreds are still trapped under rubble, feared dead.

A teacher, 27, and a student, 18, were rescued on Wednesday in Ercis.

Gozde Bahar, an English-language teacher, was rescued as her mother watched in tears.

University student Eyup Erdem was found using tiny cameras mounted on sticks.

Rescuers broke into applause as he emerged from the debris.

Caravans needed

Turkey is seeking assistance for reconstruction and temporary accommodation for the thousands who have been left homeless, the semi-official news agency Anatolia reports.

Analysis

From the start, the Turkish government has insisted it can deal with the impact of the earthquake on its own. It is a relatively wealthy and modern country, with experienced disaster management teams in place.

Now it has reversed course, requesting aid even from Israel, with which it has had difficult relations in recent years.

The reason is that Turkey is short of some items, like prefabricated housing, vital for areas of eastern Turkey where tens of thousands have either lost their homes or cannot risk going back to damaged houses.

The weather is already cold, and will become much colder in a couple of months. Rescue workers are continuing to dig in the rubble of collapsed buildings, spurred on by finding a handful of survivors, among them a two-week-old baby.

The government is seeking tents, prefabricated houses and living containers, it says.

Israel will be among the first to send aid, according to AFP news agency.

Ties with Turkey have been strained since May 2010, when Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla trying to sail to Gaza in defiance of a blockade, killing nine Turks.

“Turkey has asked us for caravans for the homeless after the earthquake,” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.

He said they had accepted the request and would seek to supply them as quickly as possible.

Israel’s defence ministry said a first Boeing 747 would transport mobile homes to Turkey on Wednesday, and other planes would follow in the coming days.

The Japanese embassy in Ankara said its government would send around $400,000 (£250,000), Anatolia reports.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head, in Ercis, says that the government has recognised that it now needs specific help in technical areas where it lacks the resources to get things up fast enough.

Aid trucks looted

The Turkish government has pledged more aid to the thousands made homeless and aid agencies have set up field hospitals and kitchens and distributed thousands of tents and blankets.

But survivors, many now living in camps, have fought over shipments of aid and blocked aid shipments.

Health officials have urged them to drink bottled water after detecting an increase in diarrhoea cases, especially among children.

Nazmi Gur, a local politician in Van, told the BBC News website that “hundreds of thousands of people” needed help.

Two people were pulled from the rubble on Wednesday

“We can provide food but they desperately need shelter,” he added.

The Turkish Red Crescent said that 17 trucks carrying aid had been looted in Van and Ercis.

People in Ercis, which bore the full brunt of the quake, told AFP that unidentified individuals had stopped a truck carrying tents. They told AFP they suspected the goods would be sold on the black market.

Local officials in Van said that early on Wednesday, dozens of survivors, furious at not receiving aid supplies, had raided trucks carrying food and blankets in the city of Van.

Turkish officials have warned that the death toll is likely to rise but there has been no official estimate of the number of people missing.

Turkey is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it sits on major geological fault lines.

The latest disaster struck on Sunday at 13:41 (10:41 GMT) at a depth of 20km (12 miles), with its epicentre 16km north-east of the city of Van.

Turkey earthquake map

More on This Story

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http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/27/us-turkey-quake-idUSTRE79M10Z20111027

ERCIS, Turkey | Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:05pm EDT

(Reuters) – Rescue workers pulled a man from the rubble alive on Thursday, more than four days after a huge quake killed at least 534 in Turkey, while homeless survivors fearing death from cold begged for aid and some accused the government of a slow response.

“Praise be to Allah!” cried the uncle of 18-year-old Imdat, whose name means “help” in Turkish, as hundreds of onlookers gave shouts of joy in the town of Ercis, the place worst hit by Sunday’s 7.2 magnitude quake in eastern Turkey.

A military rescue team from Azerbaijan rescued Imdat after burrowing deep into the rubble for more than two days.

Freed at last after more than 100 hours buried alive, Imdat was lifted onto a stretcher by medical workers who carried him through cheering crowds crying “Allahu Akbar!” to a waiting ambulance, which whisked him away to hospital.

The dramatic scene was a brief moment of joy after an earthquake that has devastated towns and villages and left thousands sleeping in the open, as the government struggles to deliver tents, food and other aid to distraught families.

Some survivors — who had stood in long queues only to be told there were no tents left — accused officials in the mostly Kurdish region of handing aid to supporters of the ruling AK party. Others said profiteers were hoarding tents and reselling them.

“Everyone is getting sick and wet. We have been waiting in line for four days like this and still nothing. It gets to our turn and they say they have run out,” said Fetih Zengin, 38, an estate agent whose house was badly damaged in Ercis, a town of 100,000.

“We slept under a piece of plastic erected on some wood boards we found. We have 10 children in our family, they are getting sick. Everyone needs a tent, snow is coming. It’s a disaster.”

Ergun Ozmen, 37, was carrying loaves of bread after queuing for food. “People are taking 10 tents and selling them. It’s a disgrace. I slept in the municipal park all night in the rain. My shoes are filled with water. I only registered to get a tent this morning as I have been busy burying the dead,” he said.

The death toll rose to 534, with 2,300 injured in the biggest quake in more than a decade in Turkey. The Disaster and Emergency Administration said 185 people had been rescued alive from collapsed buildings since the quake.

Searches for survivors went on at some sites but at others rescuers stopped work. The bodies of a mother and her baby were pulled out from one building during the night, witnesses said.

Answering Turkey’s call for help in the form of tents, prefabricated housing and containers, foreign aid began pouring in with the first planeloads landing from France, Ukraine — and Israel, despite poor relations between the two countries.

British Home Secretary Theresa May, who is visiting Turkey, said London would send 1,144 protective winter tents. Saudi television reported Saudi Arabia would give Turkey $50 million for quake relief.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs(OCHA) was providing 400 winterized tents, each able to hold five people.

An OCHA spokeswoman said Erzurum, a city 260 km (160 miles) northwest of Ercis, would be a hub for international assistance sent by plane. Van had been asked to establish a center for assistance coming overland, she said.

“MORE DISCIPLINED”

After days of survivors lining up and sometimes arguing outside distribution centers, the government announced it would no longer hand out tents but would deliver them to those whose homes were deemed unsafe to make sure the neediest got them.

“We will no longer give a tent to whoever asks for one. We will identify the buildings that are unusable and we will deliver the tents ourselves,” Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar said, urging survivors to return to homes that were not structurally damaged.

“We will be distributing the tents in a more disciplined manner. We have 6,000 tents in hand and more are coming. Soon we will start the delivery of containers to villages.”

But Mehmet Yildiz, a 50-year-old shop owner who has a two-storey house in the city of Van, said he and his family of 10 were too afraid to go back to his house.

“My house is full of cracks. Whatever the government thinks I am not going inside the house. We are having our kids sleep in the car and the rest of us roam all night long in the streets. They say they won’t give me a tent because my house is not destroyed,” he told Reuters under an umbrella in the rain.

Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker said the government would distribute special tents to house cattle and sheep in mud-brick villages, which have suffered the worst damage and where 3,088 barns have been destroyed.

CLINGING TO HOPE

Exhausted relatives clung to the hope that loved ones would be found, keeping vigil at the site of their destroyed homes as the search for any sign of life went on.

Overnight, groups of shell-shocked people with no home to go to roamed aimlessly, huddling round fires as temperatures dropped to freezing. Others congregated in relief camps.

“After 15 days, half of the people here will die, freeze to death,” said Orhan Ogunc, a 37-year-old man in Guvencli, a village of some 200 homes deep in the hills between Ercis and the city of Van. His family had a Red Crescent tent, but were sharing it with five other families.

Few are ready to leave their land.

“They say we will get prefabricated houses in one-and-a-half months,” said Zeki Yatkin, 46, who lost his father in the quake. “We can’t tolerate the cold, but what else can we do?”

Bayraktar said 5,250 homes had been destroyed or badly damaged and 20,000 other households were “affected” in Van, Ercis and outlying villages.

A 5.4 magnitude quake hit the region on Thursday morning but there were no immediate reports of further damage.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in a Kurdish separatist insurgency in the region that has lasted three decades. Last week militants killed 24 troops in neighboring Hakkari province.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government wants to build bridges with minority Kurds, so any accusations of neglect or ineptitude are politically sensitive.

The governor of Van province, Munir Karaloglu, who is a central government appointee, has rejected criticism of the relief efforts. He said the number of tents distributed would reach 28,000 by Thursday, adding that was far more than needed.

Deputy mayor Cahit Bozbay, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, gave a bleaker assessment and criticised the governor’s office for not working with officials.

“We are short of tents. It’s a major problem,” Bozbay said. “We lack supplies, but honestly the aid delivery organization is also problematic.”

(Additional reporting Humeyra Pamuk and Evrim Ergin in Van; Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia, Simon Cameron-Moore and Daren Butler; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Fallout forensics hike radiation toll

Fallout forensics hike radiation toll : Nature News.

The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March released far more radiation than the Japanese government has claimed. So concludes a study1 that combines radioactivity data from across the globe to estimate the scale and fate of emissions from the shattered plant.

The study also suggests that, contrary to government claims, pools used to store spent nuclear fuel played a significant part in the release of the long-lived environmental contaminant caesium-137, which could have been prevented by prompt action. The analysis has been posted online for open peer review by the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

Andreas Stohl, an atmospheric scientist with the Norwegian Institute for Air Research in Kjeller, who led the research, believes that the analysis is the most comprehensive effort yet to understand how much radiation was released from Fukushima Daiichi. “It’s a very valuable contribution,” says Lars-Erik De Geer, an atmospheric modeller with the Swedish Defense Research Agency in Stockholm, who was not involved with the study.

The reconstruction relies on data from dozens of radiation monitoring stations in Japan and around the world. Many are part of a global network to watch for tests of nuclear weapons that is run by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna. The scientists added data from independent stations in Canada, Japan and Europe, and then combined those with large European and American caches of global meteorological data.

Stohl cautions that the resulting model is far from perfect. Measurements were scarce in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima accident, and some monitoring posts were too contaminated by radioactivity to provide reliable data. More importantly, exactly what happened inside the reactors — a crucial part of understanding what they emitted — remains a mystery that may never be solved. “If you look at the estimates for Chernobyl, you still have a large uncertainty 25 years later,” says Stohl.

Nevertheless, the study provides a sweeping view of the accident. “They really took a global view and used all the data available,” says De Geer.

Challenging numbers

Japanese investigators had already developed a detailed timeline of events following the 11 March earthquake that precipitated the disaster. Hours after the quake rocked the six reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, the tsunami arrived, knocking out crucial diesel back-up generators designed to cool the reactors in an emergency. Within days, the three reactors operating at the time of the accident overheated and released hydrogen gas, leading to massive explosions. Radioactive fuel recently removed from a fourth reactor was being held in a storage pool at the time of the quake, and on 14 March the pool overheated, possibly sparking fires in the building over the next few days.

Click for larger image

But accounting for the radiation that came from the plants has proved much harder than reconstructing this chain of events. The latest report from the Japanese government, published in June, says that the plant released 1.5?×?1016?bequerels of caesium-137, an isotope with a 30-year half-life that is responsible for most of the long-term contamination from the plant2. A far larger amount of xenon-133, 1.1?×?1019?Bq, was released, according to official government estimates.

The new study challenges those numbers. On the basis of its reconstructions, the team claims that the accident released around 1.7?×?1019?Bq of xenon-133, greater than the estimated total radioactive release of 1.4?×?1019? Bq from Chernobyl. The fact that three reactors exploded in the Fukushima accident accounts for the huge xenon tally, says De Geer.

Xenon-133 does not pose serious health risks because it is not absorbed by the body or the environment. Caesium-137 fallout, however, is a much greater concern because it will linger in the environment for decades. The new model shows that Fukushima released 3.5?×?1016? Bq caesium-137, roughly twice the official government figure, and half the release from Chernobyl. The higher number is obviously worrying, says De Geer, although ongoing ground surveys are the only way to truly establish the public-health risk.

Stohl believes that the discrepancy between the team’s results and those of the Japanese government can be partly explained by the larger data set used. Japanese estimates rely primarily on data from monitoring posts inside Japan3, which never recorded the large quantities of radioactivity that blew out over the Pacific Ocean, and eventually reached North America and Europe. “Taking account of the radiation that has drifted out to the Pacific is essential for getting a real picture of the size and character of the accident,” says Tomoya Yamauchi, a radiation physicist at Kobe University who has been measuring radioisotope contamination in soil around Fukushima.

Click for full image

Stohl adds that he is sympathetic to the Japanese teams responsible for the official estimate. “They wanted to get something out quickly,” he says. The differences between the two studies may seem large, notes Yukio Hayakawa, a volcanologist at Gunma University who has also modelled the accident, but uncertainties in the models mean that the estimates are actually quite similar.

The new analysis also claims that the spent fuel being stored in the unit 4 pool emitted copious quantities of caesium-137. Japanese officials have maintained that virtually no radioactivity leaked from the pool. Yet Stohl’s model clearly shows that dousing the pool with water caused the plant’s caesium-137 emissions to drop markedly (see ‘Radiation crisis’). The finding implies that much of the fallout could have been prevented by flooding the pool earlier.

The Japanese authorities continue to maintain that the spent fuel was not a significant source of contamination, because the pool itself did not seem to suffer major damage. “I think the release from unit 4 is not important,” says Masamichi Chino, a scientist with the Japanese Atomic Energy Authority in Ibaraki, who helped to develop the Japanese official estimate. But De Geer says the new analysis implicating the fuel pool “looks convincing”.

The latest analysis also presents evidence that xenon-133 began to vent from Fukushima Daiichi immediately after the quake, and before the tsunami swamped the area. This implies that even without the devastating flood, the earthquake alone was sufficient to cause damage at the plant.

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The Japanese government’s report has already acknowledged that the shaking at Fukushima Daiichi exceeded the plant’s design specifications. Anti-nuclear activists have long been concerned that the government has failed to adequately address geological hazards when licensing nuclear plants (see Nature 448, 392–393; 2007), and the whiff of xenon could prompt a major rethink of reactor safety assessments, says Yamauchi.

The model also shows that the accident could easily have had a much more devastating impact on the people of Tokyo. In the first days after the accident the wind was blowing out to sea, but on the afternoon of 14 March it turned back towards shore, bringing clouds of radioactive caesium-137 over a huge swathe of the country (see ‘Radioisotope reconstruction’). Where precipitation fell, along the country’s central mountain ranges and to the northwest of the plant, higher levels of radioactivity were later recorded in the soil; thankfully, the capital and other densely populated areas had dry weather. “There was a period when quite a high concentration went over Tokyo, but it didn’t rain,” says Stohl. “It could have been much worse.” 

Additional reporting by David Cyranoski and Rina Nozawa.

Peru Earthquake 2011: Earthquake Destroys 134 Homes

Peru Earthquake 2011: Earthquake Destroys 134 Homes, Damages 18th Century Cathedral, Christian News.

Officials report that 103 people have been treated at hospitals and some 134 homes destroyed as a result of Friday’s earthquake that shook southwestern Peru.

The 6.9-magnitude quake occurred just off the coast, not too far from the epicenter of a devastating 2007 quake that claimed 500 lives. After the original tremor Friday, at least nine aftershocks followed, reported The Associated Press. The most significant aftershock measured a magnitude 5.5 on the Richter scale.

Most of the collapsed homes were made of adobe, or natural building materials, civil defense chief Alfredo Murgueytio told The Associated Press.

Two churches were reported damaged and in danger of collapsing, including an 18th century cathedral in the city of Ica, the closest urban agglomeration to the epicenter of the earthquake.

Friday’s earthquake reportedly sent people running panicked into the streets when it struck at 6:54 p.m. local time.

The epicenter was located at 14.457 degrees south and 75.990 degrees west, 31 miles away from the city of Ica, and 178 miles away from Lima, the country’s capital.

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Peru has a history of earthquakes, ranging from minor ones to those causing major death and significant damage.

The previous earthquake struck the country on Aug. 24, 2011. The 7.0-magnitude quake hit the Amazon region, making buildings in the capital and in neighboring Brazil shake, according to Reuters. At the time, no injuries or major damage was reported, but mobile phone services were interrupted in Lima.

The August earthquake has been the most powerful one to hit Peru since a 7.9-magnitude tremor killed over 500 people and destroyed thousands of houses in 2007. At the time, bodies were reportedly scattered on the streets of the town of Pisco, located close to the epicenter. At least 200 people were also buried under the rubble of a church that collapsed during a service. On Aug. 16, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI offered prayers for the victims.

South America’s west coast is a segment of the circum-Pacific seismic belt, where more than two-thirds of the world’s large-magnitude earthquakes occur, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The deadliest earthquake in Peru’s history occurred on May 31, 1970. The 7.9-magnitude earthquake and aftershocks resulted in the greatest death toll resulting from landslides and flooding due to burst dams. An estimated 50,000 people perished at the time. The country also experienced unprecedented damage to property.

Before 1970, in an earthquake that struck Lima in Oct. of 1746, at least 5,000 persons were killed, many of them when a tsunami swept the coast.

On Nov. 10, 1946, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake, centered in the region of the May 1970 shock, generated landslides that swept away the town of Quiches (northeast of Chimbote).

279 reported dead in Turkey earthquake; 1,300 more hurt

279 reported dead in Turkey earthquake; 1,300 more hurt – CNN.

Using shovels, heavy machinery and their bare hands, rescue workers scrambled through piles of rubble to find survivors Monday after a deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake devastated parts of eastern Turkey.

The death toll has risen to 279, with another 1,300 injured, Turkey’s semi-official Anatolian news agency reported, citing the country’s disaster management authority. Some 970 buildings are demolished.

There have been conflicting reports about the number of dead, however. Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said Monday that as many as 264 people were dead, while Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay put the death toll at 239.

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It was difficult to tally the number of injured, Health Minister Recep Akdag said, because many were being treated and released.

The military was assisting with search-and-rescue efforts, Atalay said.

Numerous aftershocks — the largest a magnitude 6.0 — rattled eastern Turkey, one of the nation’s poorest areas.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 55 buildings collapsed in Ercis on the north shore of Lake Van. The Turkish Red Crescent said about 25 apartment buildings and a student dormitory collapsed in the town.

A health services building also collapsed, along with part of a hospital, CNN sister network CNN Turk reported. The injured were being treated in the hospital’s garden.

“People are really scared,” CNN Turk reporter Nevsin Mengu said from Van. “The survivors are now trying to survive the cold weather.”

Rescuers and survivors contended with near-freezing temperatures early Monday. Some people collected wood from collapsed buildings to burn for warmth, Mengu said.

She said many residents are not returning to their houses, opting instead to sleep on rooftops or in the streets. It was not clear whether their homes were uninhabitable or they were just too frightened. Electricity and natural gas were off in most of the city, but Atalay said officials hope to restore power in Van and Ercis by Monday night.

Trucks carrying medical aid and food were seen driving into Van. But rescue teams had not reached some of the smaller villages in the area, Mengu said.

One man, stuck in the fetal position under a large piece of debris, was visible only through a small hole in the rubble. The man appeared weak and exhausted after rescuers pulled him out, his clothes torn.

At one point, rescue workers halted operations to try to hear whether anyone was knocking for help.

The Red Crescent called for rescue workers, machinery and drinking water. A crisis center was set up by the country’s Health Ministry in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

By Monday, more than 2,300 emergency personnel were in the region, Atalay said. Tents and rescue teams have come from as far away as Iran and Azerbaijan.

The crisis center said Sunday that 29 surrounding towns had sent help and medical helicopters were taking the injured for treatment in other provinces. Thirty-seven patients were taken to Ankara, Atalay said Monday.

More than 230 dead in Turkey quake; 1,300 more hurt – CNN.com

More than 230 dead in Turkey quake; 1,300 more hurt – CNN.com.

Ercis, Turkey (CNN) — Using shovels, heavy machinery and their bare hands, rescue workers scrambled through piles of rubble to find survivors Monday after a deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake devastated parts of eastern Turkey.

There were conflicting reports about the number dead. As many as 264 people are dead and 1,300 are injured after Sunday’s quake, Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin told reporters Monday. However, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay put the death toll at 239 in a news conference.

It was difficult to tally the number of injured, Health Minister Recep Akdag said, because many were being treated and released.

Turkey’s semi-official Anatolian news agency quoted Sahin as saying a total of 970 buildings had collapsed.

The military was assisting with search and rescue efforts, Atalay said.

Numerous aftershocks — the largest a magnitude 6.0 — rattled eastern Turkey, one of the nation’s poorest areas.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 55 buildings collapsed in Ercis on the north shore of Lake Van. The Turkish Red Crescent said about 25 apartment buildings and a student dormitory collapsed in the town.

Turkish quake survivors confront cold

Woman pulled from rubble in Turkey

Erdogan views Turkey quake damage

Turkey earthquake damage ‘massive’

A health services building also collapsed, along with part of a hospital, CNN sister network CNN Turk reported. The injured were being treated in the hospital’s garden.

“People are really scared,” CNN Turk reporter Nevsin Mengu said from Van. “The survivors are now trying to survive the cold weather.”

Rescuers and survivors contended with near-freezing temperatures early Monday. Some people collected wood from collapsed buildings to burn for warmth, Mengu said.

She said many residents are not returning to their houses, opting instead to sleep on rooftops or in the streets. It was not clear whether their homes were uninhabitable, or whether they were just too frightened. Electricity and natural gas were off in most of the city, but Atalay said officials hope to restore power in Van and Ercis by Monday night.

Trucks carrying medical aid and food were seen driving into Van. But rescue teams had not yet reached some of the smaller villages in the area, Mengu said.

One man, stuck in the fetal position under a large piece of debris, was visible only through a small hole in the rubble. The man appeared weak and exhausted after rescuers pulled him out, his clothes torn.

At one point, rescue workers halted operations to try to hear if anyone was knocking for help.

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The Red Crescent called for rescue workers, machinery and drinking water. A crisis center was set up by the country’s Health Ministry in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

By Monday, more than 2,300 emergency personnel were on the ground, Atalay said. Tents and rescue teams have come from as far away as Iran and Azerbaijan.

The crisis center said Sunday 29 surrounding towns had sent help and medical helicopters were taking the injured for treatment in other provinces. Thirty-seven patients were taken to Ankara, Atalay said Monday.

Two tent hospitals were being set up in Ercis on Sunday, and two cargo planes were dispatched from the capital carrying medical teams and aid.

Prime Minister Erdogan and Akdag arrived in the area Sunday, according to the Ministry of Health’s crisis center.

Israel offered Turkey “any help it may require” after the earthquake, Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s office said. Israel and Turkey, once close allies, saw a deterioration in relations in a dispute over an Israeli naval commando raid on the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the country, while grateful for offers of aid, is prepared to handle the disaster on its own.

Turkey is “no stranger to having these seismic events,” but Sunday’s quake is considered major, CNN Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf said.

A magnitude 7.6 earthquake in Izmit, Turkey, killed more than 17,000 people in 1999, according to the United States Geological Survey. A magnitude 7.2 tremor in Duzce the same year killed 894 people, the USGS reported.

 

Sunday’s major quake struck at 1:41 p.m. local time, about 12 miles from Van, the USGS said.

 

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=earthquake-hits-turkey

 

 

* Quake was magnitude 7.2, Turkish observatory says

* Up to 1,000 may have been killed

* Prime Minister Erdogan to visit affected region

* Dozens of buildings collapse in Ercis district (Recasts with new magnitude figure, death toll estimate, details)

By Jonathon Burch

VAN, Turkey, Oct 23 (Reuters) – A powerful earthquake which shook southeast Turkey on Sunday may have killed up to 1,000 people as it triggered the collapse of dozens of buildings across the region, media reported the Kandilli Observatory as saying.

Emergency workers battled to rescue people trapped in buildings in the city of Van and surrounding districts on the banks of Lake Van, near Turkey’s border with Iran.

Some 10 buildings collapsed in Van city and about 25-30 buildings were brought to the ground in the nearby district of Ercis, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters.

“We estimate around 1,000 buildings are damaged and our estimate is for hundreds of lives lost. It could be 500 or 1,000,” Kandilli Observatory general manager Mustafa Erdik told a news conference.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was travelling to Van and the cabinet was expected to discuss the quake at a meeting called for Monday morning.

“A lot of buildings collapsed, many people were killed, but we don’t know the number. We are waiting for emergency help, it’s very urgent,” Zulfukar Arapoglu, the mayor of Ercis, told news broadcaster NTV.

Cihan news agency said 30 had been killed in Ercis district.

“We need tents urgently and rescue teams. We don’t have any ambulances, and we only have one hospital. We have many killed and injured,” he said.

Turkey’s Red Crescent said one of its local teams was helping to rescue people from a student residence in Ercis. It said it was sending tents, blankets and food to the region.

More than 20 aftershocks shook the area, further unsettling residents who ran out on the streets when the initial strong quake struck. Television pictures showed rooms shaking and furniture falling to the ground as people ran from one building.

Dozens of emergency workers and locals crawled over a multi-storey building in Van as they searched for any people trapped in side.

Elsewhere, vehicles lay crushed by falling masonry in the street while dazed-looking people wandered past.

Some 50 injured people had been taken to hospital in Van, state-run Anatolian news agency reported, but it did not give details on how serious their injuries were.

The Kandilli Observatory, which initially cited a magnitude of 6.6, said the earthquake struck at 1041 GMT and was 5 km (3 miles) deep. The U.S. Geological Survey earlier reported that the magnitude was 7.6.

Turkish media said phone lines and electricity had been cut off. The quake’s epicentre was at the village of Tabanli, 20 km north of Van city, Kandilli said.

In Hakkari, about 100 km (60 miles) south of Van, a building could be felt swaying for about 10 seconds during the quake but there was no immediate sign of casualties or damage in the town, about two and a half hours drive through the mountains from Van.

Major geological fault lines cross Turkey and small earthquakes are a near daily occurrence. Two large quakes in 1999 killed more than 20,000 people in northwest Turkey.

Two people were killed and 79 injured in May when an earthquake shook Simav in northwest Turkey. (Additional reporting by Sedan Sezer and Daren Butler; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Quake-prone Japanese Area Runs Disaster System on Force.com

Quake-prone Japanese Area Runs Disaster System on Force.com | PCWorld.

A coastal region of Japan due for a major earthquake and possible tsunamis has implemented a cloud-based disaster management system run by Salesforce.com.

Shizuoka Prefecture, on Japan’s eastern coast in the central region of the country, lies curled around an undersea trough formed by the junction of two tectonic plates. It has been rocked by repeated large temblors in past centuries, collectively called “Tokai earthquakes,” and the central government has warned that with underground stresses high another is imminent.

The local prefectural government began to build a new disaster management system last year, the initial version of which went live in July. It is based on Salesforce.com’s platform-as-a-service offering, Force.com, which hosts hundreds of thousands of applications.

“It would have cost a lot more to run our own servers and network, and if a disaster happened managing something like that would be very difficult, especially if the prefecture office was damaged,” said Keisuke Uchiyama, a Shizuoka official who works with the system.

Japanese prefectures are the rough equivalent of states.

The system is currently hosted on Salesforce.com’s servers in the U.S. and goes live when an official disaster warning is issued by the government. It links up information about key infrastructure such as roads, heliports and evacuation centers.

Salesforce.com says it combines GIS (geographic information system) data with XML sent from Japan’s Meteorological Agency. Users can also send email updates from the field using their mobile phones, with GPS coordinates and pictures attached.

Uchiyama said the original plan was to allow open access, but budget cuts forced that to be postponed and it is now available only to government workers and disaster-related groups. The system was implemented with a budget of about 200 million yen (US$2.6 million) over its first two years, down from an original allotment of about 500 million yen over three years.

He said it was used to keep track of the situation last week when a powerful typhoon swept through central Japan.

The obvious downside to a hosted system is that key infrastructure is often destroyed during natural disasters. After the powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan’s northeastern coast in March, some seaside towns were completely devastated and went weeks without basics like power or mobile phone service. Local communities turned to word-of-mouth and public bulletin boards to spread information and search for survivors.

“If the network gets cut, it’s over,” said Uchiyama.

Can we predict earthquakes?

BBC News – Can we predict when and where quakes will strike?.

l'Aquila earthquake Seismologists try to manage the risk of building damage and loss of life

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This week, six seismologists go on trial for the manslaughter of 309 people, who died as a result of the 2009 earthquake in l’Aquila, Italy.

The prosecution holds that the scientists should have advised the population of l’Aquila of the impending earthquake risk.

But is it possible to pinpoint the time and location of an earthquake with enough accuracy to guide an effective evacuation?

There are continuing calls for seismologists to predict where and when a large earthquake will occur, to allow complete evacuation of threatened areas.

What causes an earthquake?

An earthquake is caused when rocks in the Earth’s crust fracture suddenly, releasing energy in the form of shaking and rolling, radiating out from the epicentre.

The rocks are put under stress mostly by friction during the slow, 1-10 cm per year shuffling of tectonic plates.

The release of this friction can happen at any time, either through small frequent fractures, or rarer breaks that release a lot more energy, causing larger earthquakes.

It is these large earthquakes that have devastating consequences when they strike in heavily populated areas.

Attempts to limit the destruction of buildings and the loss of life mostly focus on preventative measures and well-communicated emergency plans.

Predicting an earthquake with this level of precision is extremely difficult, because of the variation in geology and other factors that are unique to each location.

Attempts have been made, however, to look for signals that indicate a large earthquake is about to happen, with variable success.

Historically, animals have been thought to be able to sense impending earthquakes.

Noticeably erratic behaviour of pets, and mass movement of wild animals like rats, snakes and toads have been observed prior to several large earthquakes in the past.

Following the l’Aquila quake, researchers published a study in the Journal of Zoology documenting the unusual movement of toads away from their breeding colony.

But scientists have been unable to use this anecdotal evidence to predict events.

The behaviour of animals is affected by too many factors, including hunger, territory and weather, and so their erratic movements can only be attributed to earthquakes in hindsight.

Precursor events

When a large amount of stress is built up in the Earth’s crust, it will mostly be released in a single large earthquake, but some smaller-scale cracking in the build-up to the break will result in precursor earthquakes.

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There is no scientific basis for making a prediction”

Richard Walker University of Oxford

These small quakes precede around half of all large earthquakes, and can continue for days to months before the big break.

Some scientists have even gone so far as to try to predict the location of the large earthquake by mapping the small tremors.

The “Mogi Doughnut Hypothesis” suggests that a circular pattern of small precursor quakes will precede a large earthquake emanating from the centre of that circle.

While half of the large earthquakes have precursor tremors, only around 5% of small earthquakes are associated with a large quake.

So even if small tremors are felt, this cannot be a reliable prediction that a large, devastating earthquake will follow.

“There is no scientific basis for making a prediction”, said Dr Richard Walker of the University of Oxford.

In several cases, increased levels of radon gas have been observed in association with rock cracking that causes earthquakes.

Leaning building Small ground movements sometimes precede a large quake

Radon is a natural and relatively harmless gas in the Earth’s crust that is released to dissolve into groundwater when the rock breaks.

Similarly, when rock cracks, it can create new spaces in the crust, into which groundwater can flow.

Measurements of groundwater levels around earthquake-prone areas see sudden changes in the level of the water table as a result of this invisible cracking.

Unfortunately for earthquake prediction, both the radon emissions and water level changes can occur before, during, or after an earthquake, or not at all, depending on the particular stresses a rock is put under.

Advance warning systems

The minute changes in the movement, tilt, and the water, gas and chemical content of the ground associated with earthquake activity can be monitored on a long term scale.

Measuring devices have been integrated into early warning systems that can trigger an alarm when a certain amount of activity is recorded.

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Prediction will only become possible with a detailed knowledge of the earthquake process. Even then, it may still be impossible”

Dr Dan Faulkner University of Liverpool

Such early warning systems have been installed in Japan, Mexico and Taiwan, where the population density and high earthquake risk pose a huge threat to people’s lives.

But because of the nature of all of these precursor reactions, the systems may only be able to provide up to 30 seconds’ advance warning.

“In the history of earthquake study, only one prediction has been successful”, explains Dr Walker.

The magnitude 7.3 earthquake in 1975 in Haicheng, North China was predicted one day before it struck, allowing authorities to order evacuation of the city, saving many lives.

But the pattern of seismic activity that this prediction was based on has not resulted in a large earthquake since, and just a year later in 1976 a completely unanticipated magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck nearby Tangshan causing the death of over a quarter of a million people.

The “prediction” of the Haicheng quake was therefore just a lucky unrepeatable coincidence.

A major problem in the prediction of earthquake events that will require evacuation is the threat of issuing false alarms.

Scientists could warn of a large earthquake every time a potential precursor event is observed, however this would result in huge numbers of false alarms which put a strain on public resources and might ultimately reduce the public’s trust in scientists.

“Earthquakes are complex natural processes with thousands of interacting factors, which makes accurate prediction of them virtually impossible,” said Dr Walker.

Seismologists agree that the best way to limit the damage and loss of life resulting from a large earthquake is to predict and manage the longer-term risks in an earthquake-prone area. These include the likelihood of building collapsing and implementing emergency plans.

“Detailed scientific research has told us that each earthquake displays almost unique characteristics, preceded by foreshocks or small tremors, whereas others occur without warning. There simply are no rules to utilise in order to predict earthquakes,” said Dr Dan Faulkner, senior lecturer in rock mechanics at the University of Liverpool.

“Earthquake prediction will only become possible with a detailed knowledge of the earthquake process. Even then, it may still be impossible.”

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