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Earthquakes pose greatest natural risk to Switzerland

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Geneva: The Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich indicated on Tuesday that though moderate earthquakes occur on a regular basis in the country, “a strong or even catastrophic earthquake could also occur at anytime, anywhere in Switzerland” .The fruit of 10 years of research, SED’s updated seismic hazard model, which replaces its outdated 2004 predecessor, will enhance the organisation’s predictor capabilities as well as its ability to assess hazard levels across the confederation, where some 500 earthquakes are recorded each year, Xinhua reported.

According to improved predictive models, new and more accurate data, and reviewed estimates based on historical sources, canton Valais remains the area with the highest hazard level in the country, followed by Basel, Graubunden, the St. Gallen Rhine Valley, and central Switzerland.

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SED explained that theoretically however, a strong earthquake could occur in any of Switzerland’s twenty-six cantons and at any given time. The most recent moderate earthquake to hit Switzerland dates back to three years ago, when a tremor with a magnitude of 4.2 on the Richter scale struck at 30 km below the earth’s surface in the vicinity of Zug.

(IANS)

 

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Researchers Suggest Studying Aquifer Water Levels in the Himalayas to Predict an Earthquake

Whenever earthquakes occur, widespread cracks and deformations on the earth's surface are common, resulting in changes in groundwater levels, believe researchers

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Can water levels in the foothills of Himalayas forewarn about earthquakes? The blinking red light on a seismograph shows the epicentre of an earthquake. (representational image) Wikimedia

Bengaluru, October 16, 2017 : Continuous monitoring of water levels in the foothills of the Himalayas can warn about an impending earthquake in the region, which is due for a major temblor.

This recommendation to the Ministry of Earth Sciences has come from Ramesh Singh, professor of environmental sciences at California’s Chapman University, who is also president of the Natural Hazards Group of the American Geological Union.

Singh says the utility of monitoring the water levels of underground aquifers for predicting earthquakes in quake-prone regions has been confirmed from analysis of water level data in a bore hole collected during the earthquake that rocked Nepal’s Gorkha district on April 25, 2015.

The findings of the study carried out by Singh and three seismologists from China have recently been published in the journal Techtonophysics.

The Gorkha quake, one of the deadliest in Nepal, killed about 5,000 people mainly in Nepal, a few in bordering India, two in Bangladesh and one in China, and injured about 9,200 people.

Whenever earthquakes occur, widespread cracks and deformations on the earth’s surface are common, resulting in changes in groundwater levels, Singh told this correspondent in an email.

In China, many parameters are being monitored in water wells, including water level, water temperature, and water radon concentrations to detect any signal prior to an impending earthquake.

According to the scientists, due to seismic wave propagation, the volume of an aquifer expands and contracts, forming fractures that change the water flow in a bore well sunk into the aquifer.

In the case of the Gorkha quake, the scientists considered the water level in a bore well — called “Jingle” well — atop an aquifer in China’s Shanxi province, 2,769 kilometres from the temblor’s epicenter. The data was analysed soon after the Nepal earthquake.

A “spectrum analysis” of the co-seismic response of the bore hole water level showed large amplitude oscillations with a maximum peak-to-peak value of about 1.75 metres associated with ground vibrations generated by the earthquake, says their report.

In addition, the analysis revealed the arrival of a possible precursor wave at the “Jingle” well about 6.5 hours prior to the actual occurrence.

ALSO READ Indian Seismologist Arun Bapat had Predicted China Earthquake on August 8

“The study of co-seismic changes in groundwater has emerged as an important research area which can provide an improved understanding of earthquake processes and corresponding changes in surface and subsurface parameters,” Singh said.

Water level data in close proximity to the epicenter may be of great importance in getting early warning signals of an impending earthquake, he said. China and the United States routinely monitor aquifer water levels at 15-minute intervals.

In the light of the finding, Singh said that “India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences may consider deploying water level sensors in the Himalayan foothills areas, which may provide valuable information about an impending earthquake in the Himalayan region, which is due for a major earthquake.”

Such data, he added, “is also useful in understanding the dynamic nature of the Indian plate”.

However Arun Bapat, former head of Earthquake Engineering Research at the Central Water and Power Research Station in Pune, says he has some reservations about the study’s conclusion that water level changes observed in the bore hole were the warning signal for the Gorkha earthquake.

“Various effects associated with a large earthquake (Magnitude 7.5 or more) such as electrical, magnetic, geological, tectonic, hydraulic, radioactivity, etc., have been observed within about 600 to 800 km from the epicenter (but not beyond),” Bapat told IANS.

Bapat said the magnitude of the Gorkha quake was about 6.5 to 6.75 which is considered as moderate. “The effect of this quake on water level changes at a distance of 2,769 kilometres from its epicenter is almost not possible.” (IANS)

 

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Over 200 Killed As 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Mexico City

The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985

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People evacuated from office buildings gather in Reforma Avenue after an earthquake in Mexico City, Sept. 19, 2017. VOA

Mexico, September 20, 2017 :  A powerful earthquake of 7.1 magnitude struck Mexico city, leaving more than 200 people dead and many trapped under the collapsed buildings. At about 2.15 p.m. (local time) on Tuesday, the earthquake shook central Mexico, its epicenter was 4.5 km east-northeast of San Juan Raboso and 55 km south-southwest of the city of Puebla, in Puebla state.

“We are facing a new national emergency,” said Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, in his first televised address following the earthquake.

The earthquake was felt far and wide. In Mexico City, there were power outages and more than 40 buildings collapsed crushing cars and trapping people inside.

Dozens of buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of nearby states also.

Thousands of soldiers, rescuers and civilians — including college students — in Mexico City clawed through the rubble with picks, shovels and their bare hands. Windows buckled and shattered, falling several stories to the ground while thousands of people streamed into the streets running away from buildings and potential gas leaks.

People struggled to get home when power poles that toppled in the quake blocked the streets and the public transportation system temporarily shut down operations. Nearly 5 million customers were still without power early Wednesday.

The earthquake came less than two weeks after a massive 8.1-magnitude quake hit the country on September 7 and killed nearly 100.

The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Just hours before the quake hit, many people took part in drills and commemorative events.

All public and private schools in Mexico City and some of the states affected by the earthquake will remain closed until further notice, Education Minister Aurelio Nuño tweeted.

Foreign leaders sent messages of support to Mexico. US President Donald Trump, who has courted controversy with his plans for a border wall with Mexico, tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted his support following the “devastating news”.

 

(IANS)

 

 

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Indian Seismologist Arun Bapat had Predicted China Earthquake on August 8

Bapat’s prediction based on surface temperatures also turned out to be correct in the case of an earthquake in Manipur early this year

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Indian Seismologist succesfully preditcs several earthquakes beforehand by studying data,.
Earthquake prediction enables emergency measures to reduce death and destruction. Pixabay
  • Indian seismologist correctly predicts China earthquake beforehand by studying changes in scientific data and temperatures
  • Scientific technology used for short-term earthquake forecasting and prediction witnessing continuous progression

Bengaluru, August 13, 2017 : Indian seismologist Arun Bapat had warned, a day before it struck, of the the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that rocked China on August 8, killing close to 40 people and forcing the evacuation of thousands more.

“I daily visit the website of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) for various geological, meteorological, ionospheric and seismic parameters,” Bapat, a former chief of earthquake research at the Central Water and Power Research Station in Pune, told IANS.

“On August 7, around midnight, I saw a satellite infra-red photo showing a thermal high in the China-Japan region that was not there five hours earlier.”

Bapat — a consulting seismologist at International Earthquake and Volcano Prediction Centre headquartered in Orlando, Florida — knew this was a sign of a moderate to a large magnitude earthquake. He immediately alerted seismologists in his group in an email warning that “an earthquake should occur within the next 18 to 24 hours”.

That forecast turned out to be correct. “Predicted China earthquake happened,” Hong-Chun Wu, a Chinese seismologist, responded in an email on August 8.

Indian seismologist correctly predicts chinese earthquake
The blinking red light on a seismograph shows the epicentre of the earthquake. (representational image) Wikimedia

“This only confirms that the science of short-term earthquake forecasting and prediction is really progressing,” said Bapat who had predicted the 7.2-magnitude Mexico earthquake of April 18, 2014, two months before the event.

Bapat’s confidence stems from the string of correct predictions he had made using satellite readings of seismological and geophysical parameters like ‘Total Electron Content’ and ‘Outgoing Long Wave Radiation’ in addition to infra-red images of the Earth.

For instance, on April 14, 2017, in an email to the Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir, Bapat wrote: “During my routine check of various earthquake-related parameters it has been found that the area near Bhaderwah could perhaps be heading for an earthquake of magnitude around 5.5 within next few days.” A 5 magnitude earthquake did occur four days later, some 80 km from Kargil, as predicted.

Bapat’s prediction based on surface temperatures also turned out to be correct in the case of an earthquake in Manipur early this year.

On February 23, he alerted the North-East Disaster Management Authority in an email: “The temperatures at three locations indicate the likely occurrence of an earthquake of magnitude around 5.0 within next few days. The epicenter could be within 70 km from any of the above locations. Most vulnerable dates could be 25/26 Feb.”

An earthquake of magnitude 5.2 did occur in Churachandpur district of Manipur on February 24. “The magnitude and location were fully correct,” Bapat said. “Only the date was missed by a few hours.”

Satellite-borne data, freely available on IMD website, could be effectively used for short-term earthquake forecasting and prediction on a 24×7 basis, he said. Besides satellite data, there are seismic precursors arising from “seismo-electromagnetic effect” that are worth watching, Bapat said.

“Before the occurrence of any moderate to large magnitude earthquake, the underground location where the rupture takes place gets heated. As the temperature rises, the geomagnetic field of the earth at that location goes on decreasing which adversely affects the propagation and reception of electromagnetic waves and communication.” The impact of this, Bapat said, can be observed by anyone with a telephone or television set.

About two days before an earthquake, landline telephone communication gets disturbed; radio reception fades away about 30 to 40 hours before the event and television reception gets disturbed about 10 hours before earthquake, Bapat said.

“If all mobile telephones in a radius of 15 km or more are affected, it could be a sign of earthquake within the next 100 minutes. This was noted for the first time prior to the 1993 Latur earthquake in Maharashtra, in Bhuj before the destructive quake of January 26, 2001, and prior to the 7.5 magnitude Kathmandu earthquake on April 25, 2015.”

“I would like to say with sufficient level of confidence that using electronics and satellite-borne data would definitely give good result-oriented earthquake predictions. All State Disaster Management Authorities (DMAs) and the NDMA are requested to consider this seriously,” Bapat said.

“In view of the predicted large magnitude earthquake in the Himalayan region, it is the right time to act now,” he added. (IANS)


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