Monday, May 19, 2008

Earthquake Is Not A Joke

(Republished herewith is my previously writen article in view of the earthquake and deadly tsunami that hit Japan recently.)
With the proliferation of cell phone not only in urban places but in the countryside and remote areas; news, updates, gossips, and all forms of communications can now easily disseminated. A message of good events are very well appreciated, but when this gadget is used to spread anomalous and false occurrence, one cannot imagine the miseries it will cause to the alarmed public.
Just recently, text messages circulated throughout the Philippines predicting that an earthquake of great magnitude will jolt the country and citing a foreign source. The populace, without an understanding of how earthquake manifests, reacted with too much fear. Being aware of what happened before, the experience of devastated Sichuan province of China, the calamities that sent havocs to Myanmar, and the December 2004 earthquake-caused tsunami off Sumatra Island crashing the shores of many nations causing 230,000 fatalities; such situations were more than enough to sow nightmares and nervousness to frightened community.
Earthquake, unlike other forms of upheavals, is unpredictable. Hurricane, tornado, or cyclones can be seen and its course can be plotted. Experts can predict its direction and anything on its path can be forewarned. Earthquake, on the other hand, strikes suddenly and in just a short period of time. Its effect is least in a flat ground. But in the crowded areas, as in the cities where high rise structures are prominent, its results are so terrifying and horrendous. Traces of its routes are nowhere to be found by layman’s knowhow. Observatory and satellite stations are useless detection posts for hunting earthquakes.
Earthquake is a result of sudden movement of earth plates brought about by the release of energy from the earth’s crust due to slippage of two tectonic plates in the subduction zone and along the large fault plane. As in a cranking gears, imagine a two enormous plate; one plate as big as the continent of America and the other is as big as the continent of Africa. If these two plates come in contact on a certain curve or asperity points, each boundaries will form a stick-slip behaviour. The sticking and sliding with its other will create frictional heating and the cracking of the rocks on the fault line will send a seismic wave causing an earthquake. And considering the vastness of these two continent plates- be it a strike-slip, normal, or thrust fault type- the resulting quake magnitude will be extremely large and unimaginable. The awesome heat energy that will be generated in a form of molten rocks or magma will flow and escape through the soft spot as a volcanic eruption.
And this is what happened in the Philippines. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, which was felt all over world, was preceded by a magnitude of 7.8 earthquake that devastated Central Luzon in 1990. The Luzon Earthquake is comparable to the San Francisco earthquake of l906 and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Its epicentre was in Cabanatuan City, some 100 kilometers northeast of Mount Pinatubo. This eruption brought out to the surface billions of tons of magma, sulphur, and other mineral deposits. With this relationship, volcanic eruption in the vicinity of China may now be in the offing as a result of the 7.9 magnitude of earthquake in Sichuan Province.
The Philippines, being in the area of the Pacific Ring of Fire, is susceptible to earthquake and volcanic eruptions. And having had experienced the catastrophic effect of these calamities, the false alarm generated by cell phone messages hoax is of great annoying and pestering joke.

No comments: