My top ten list of earthquake blogs

I am running this blog for more than five years now and it is time to acknowledge the other geo-blogs out there that have inspired me. In order to stay updated I follow the Geobulletin, which monitors the geoblogosphere activity. There are numerous amazing blogs out there that are either fun to read or interesting or both, but here I will focus on the ones dealing with earthquakes/tectonics/geomorphology/tsunamis. Here is my personal, subjective, but honest, list of earthquake blogs that I like and read: Continue reading “My top ten list of earthquake blogs”

A new Nuclear Power Plant near Karachi

Tsunami boulder deposits in Oman

Karachi is the most populated city in Pakistan with around 24,000,000 inhabitants – just as many as Australia. Since many years a nuclear power plant (NPP) is located just a few miles outside the city at the shore. Ongoing work on new reactors with Chinese help has recently sparked outrage and media coverage. Concerns are that any accidents at the NPP might have dramatic consequences and threaten millions of people. I searched the recent scientific literature on seismic and tsunami hazard for Karachi…

Continue reading “A new Nuclear Power Plant near Karachi”

Earthquake in Pakistan – lessons to learn

After the strong earthquake in Pakistan a good part of the media coverage was about the fascinating story of the new island that emerged off Gwadar. While this was really amazing I think now it’s time to think about the consequences of the quake itself. We have seen a shallow M7.7 event that produced severe shaking across a large area. Peak ground acceleration exceeded 1 g in the 0.3 s period and was still intense in longer periods. 515 people have reportedly been killed and more than 100,000 are homeless. Continue reading “Earthquake in Pakistan – lessons to learn”

A mud volcano as an Earthquake Environmental Effect?

On 24 September a shallow M7.7 earthquake rattled Pakistan. At least 300 people died and thousands of houses, most of them adobe, collapsed in Balochistan Province. The quake was felt as far away as Muscat (Oman) and New Delhi (India). Epicentral intensities reached up to IX. The earthquake appeared to be a strike slip event. Soon the media reported on an amazing effect of the quake – in roughly 400 km distance a new island appeared few hundred meters off Gwadar. Continue reading “A mud volcano as an Earthquake Environmental Effect?”

QGIS 2.0 released – watch out ESRI!

Working on spatial data is the key feature of being a geoscientist and a lot of this work is done using ArcGIS from ESRI. QGIS was always an alternative especially looking at the costs of a full ESRI license. But when it comes to “making maps” QGIS was always behind ArcGIS in map formatting and export. The map composer was more or less … ugly and not state of the art. Continue reading “QGIS 2.0 released – watch out ESRI!”

Shaky Ground: Check out the new seismology-fantasy-mystery-science-novel by Sharon Kae Reamer

Shaky Ground is the new novel in Sharon Kae Reamers Schattenreich series. You’ve probably read Primary Fault, so you’re familiar with seismologist Caitlin and her adventures in Cologne. In this case, you will probably head towards your local book store now or you might be happy to find this Amazon link. If not, check out the story about science, fantasy, and the Cologne “Klüngel” and tell us how you liked it in the comment section! You might know the author not only from her novel, but also from her science... Continue reading “Shaky Ground: Check out the new seismology-fantasy-mystery-science-novel by Sharon Kae Reamer”

Has Roger Bilham been deported from India because of his seismic hazard warnings?

A new story came up recently that sounds like the L’Aquila case, but the other way round. Dr. Roger Bilham from the University of Colorado, a well-known earthquake researcher, was denied entry to India earlier this year. He was on a flight to Bhutan and supposed to change planes in New Delhi when Indian officials sent him back to the plane he just arrived on. Officially, he was accused with having the wrong type of visa. Himself and many colleagues, however, are sure that he was deported because he stated that the seismic hazard in India is underestimated. Continue reading “Has Roger Bilham been deported from India because of his seismic hazard warnings?”

Things that cause earthquakes

So many things are said to cause earthquakes, things have become a little complex during the last years. For many people it might be hard to remember all of them and you will probably ask yourself “What can I do to avoid finding myself having caused a seismic event by accident?” Here’s help. I prepared a list with no claim to completeness of things that might cause earthquakes. Some are already well-known, some were suprising to me. Recently, chancellor Angela Merkel said she’s against equal taxation for gay and straight couples. I guess this can only be interpretetd as an attempt to minimize seismic hazard in Germany, everything else would be ridiculous…

What’s your favorite? What’s missing? Continue reading “Things that cause earthquakes”

Catch 22

In the wake of the verdict in the L’Aquila earthquake trial big words were not spared. Is this a “battle between science and politics”? Is the decision taken “more reminiscent of Dark Ages magical thinking than modern scientific understanding”? Is this trial “likened to persecution of Galileo”? In reaction to the verdict, a common tendency in the earth science and risk community seems to move towards a ‘withdrawal’ from our commitment to society. But is this the right thing to do?

This short-sighted verdict may indeed very well alienate society’s strongest ally when it comes to safeguarding society against potential dramatic consequences of earthquakes. But is society helped when scientists systematically overexaggerate the potential hazard to cover themselves against possible legal consequences? Such attitude would completely erode the credibility of science. And when a hazard becomes really serious, society will turn a deaf ear to the advice of the scientists. Society isn’t helped either when scientists withdraw in their academic ‘ivory towers’ and completely ignore their societal role. This would only give ‘charlatans’ carte blanche to preach doom.

Eventually, scientists do not have a choice! Scientists have to stick to their responsibility towards society. In risk communication they will have to be as clear and honest as possible, but without devaluing the nuance inherent to science. Scientists have to keep confronting authorities that run away from their responsibilities. And scientists will have to keep investing in an ‘informed citizenry’, to provide them all necessary tools to become aware and resilient with respect to the inevitable earthquake. But at the end, scientists should be able to say and write freely and unconditionally wherever their science leads them!