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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Did Humans cause the Sichuan Earthquake?

This might be slightly speculative, but here's an article from Science and Society that ponders if last year's earthquake in Sichuan was triggered by human causes. Have we become so powerful, moving mountains and seas. Some serious food for thought.

Here's a blurp.

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Earthquakes, whether you're a believer or an actuary, are "acts of God."  We humans do not have the power to predict, stop, or cause them. Or so we think.  We all jumped a bit at a headline in The Telegraph of London: "Chinese earthquake may have been man-made, say scientists."

"An earthquake that killed at least 80,000 people in Sichuan last year may have been triggered by an enormous dam just miles from the epicentre," says Malcolm Moore's article from Shanghai.

"The 511ft-high Zipingpu dam holds 315 million tonnes of water and lies just 550 yards from the fault line, and three miles from the epicentre, of the Sichuan earthquake.

"Now scientists in China and the United States believe the weight of water, and the effect of it penetrating into the rock, could have affected the pressure on the fault line underneath, possibly unleashing a chain of ruptures that led to the quake.

"Fan Xiao, the chief engineer of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau in Chengdu, said it was 'very likely' that the construction and filling of the reservoir in 2004 had led to the disaster."

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So. the question is - "Huh???"

Click here for the full article.

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