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
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
Spain was hit by two earthquakes in quick succession yesterday. Several people were reported to have died after a 5.1 magnitude quake hit the Murcia region just before 7.00pm local time, less than two hours after a 4.5 quake in the same area.
Another powerful earthquake has just hit the disaster region in north-eastern Japan. The magnitude 7.4 quake, probably an aftershock of the magnitude 9.0 quake on March 11, occurred at 13.1 kilometres depth 330 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, according to the US Geological Survey. A tsunami warning was issued, but has now been lifted.
As I came through airport security in Connecticut, upon presentation of my California driver’s license, the TSA officer asked me, “Aren’t you folks worried about how that big Japan quake is going to hit you next?” I was glad to be able to tell him that we’re not any more worried than we were before, and that a writer had just made that up. I didn’t ask him where he got that idea, but on my mind already was Simon Winchester’s column in Newsweek magazine on March 13. The article was wrong, and that fact has gotten a lot of traction in the blogosphere—and in real newspapers, if a distinction still exists.
As more radiation monitoring equipment arrives in Fukushima prefecture, we’re starting to get a sense of just how far the radioactive material from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is travelling. Surprisingly high doses have been seen outside the evacuation zone set up by the government.
Research facilities have been destroyed by the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, and fear over radiation has brought work to halt at afar greater number of laboratories throughout the Tokyo area. The setback for science will be great, and many in Japan are wondering whether they will ever get their careers back on track. For scientists who are forced to close their labs or who do chose to evacuate, there might be hope. Researchers living outside of Japan are trying to think of ways to help scientist-refugees.