Western Himalayan region faces big quake risk

Western Himalayan region faces big quake risk

The Kashmir region in northwestern India could experience a magnitude 9 earthquake — several times larger than previously assumed. The revised risk estimate is worrying, says Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who presented the results on 7 December at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. “There are many cities and megacities in the region. And there are a couple of nuclear power plants there too,” he says. “You have two nuclear powers facing each other, armed to the teeth, facing a huge amount of damage”. Bilham speculates that perhaps 300,000 people might die in such an earthquake, not counting subsequent problems from political turmoil between India and Kashmir, or flooding.  Read more

Fracking caused British quakes

Fracking caused British quakes

A UK energy company has admitted that their hydraulic fracturing project (commonly known as ‘fracking’) probably caused a few surprisingly large earthquakes in Lancashire this spring. But, their report into the events concludes, it should be safe to continue operations in the area. Protesters disagree.  Read more

Canadian budget aims to please; fails

Canadian budget aims to please; fails

The tabling of the Canadian budget today looks set to trigger a federal election in the coming weeks, as the leaders of all three opposition parties in the country’s minority government said they would vote against it. The reaction has surprised many observers, who initially thought the budget, released Tuesday, was seemingly designed to have a little something to please everyone. “Too little too late,” said Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff on national radio.  Read more

An elementary energy problem

An elementary energy problem

The United States needs to “take control of its energy future” and prevent future resource crunches of ‘energy critical elements’. So says a new report from the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society, which echoes many of the same concerns and solutions as the US Department of Energy’s December 2010 report on the same topic (see Nature News blog post). Action seems to be happening off the back of these reports, the report’s authors told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in DC today: US senator Mark Udall (Colorado) has introduced a bill on the same subject – the critical minerals and materials promotion act of 2011.  Read more

Promote and perish?

Promote and perish?

A panel at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco met today to discuss the media circus surrounding the recent announcement about so-called ‘arsenic-based life’ (see Nature’s news coverage here and here, our editorial, a good timeline of events by Dan Vergano, and the listing of AGU press briefings).  Read more