14 December 2005

Middle East cracking up?

Having an 8 wide, 60km long fissure open up near the Red Sea while “powerful” earthquakes hit East Africa (just down the rift from there), Afghanistan/Jammu/Kasimir (twice) (it’s a little to the east of the new fissure) and eastern Turkey (a little north of it) doesn’t seem to have rung any alarm bells, but they’re just a few of the recent large quakes.

I’m idly wondering what effect, if any, the many decades of enthusiastic oil extraction in the region has been having on its geological stability; so I google for “earthquake” in the news and discover that there have also been Richter magnitude 5 or greater earthquakes near Wellington, the Kermadec Islands (which are also NZ, hit four times in the last week including a Richter 6.4 strike), Fiji (twice), Lake Tanganyika (Congo/Tanzania), Romania, Southeastern Siberia, Komandorskiye Ostrova (Russia), Japan, the Phillipines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (twice: one near Lei, one near Rabaul), the Solomon Islands, the Andreanof Islands, the Timor Sea and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (twice) in the last week, which is about 30% high compared with the expected ≅800 a year. Not dramatic, probably still well within the bell curve, but I’ll keep watching.

Richter 7 quakes (such as the previous one to hit Pakistan) are expected to hit ≅18 times a year.

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