“Where the next big earthquake hit?

Coral Reefs Can Predict the Site of Coming Earthquakes

Where will the next big earthquake hit?

Geologist Prof. Zvi Ben-Avraham and his doctoral student Gal Hartman of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Physics and Planetary Sciences in the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences are examining coral reefs and submarine canyons to detect earthquake fault zones.

 

Aboard a marine vessel that traversed the waters of Israel and Jordan and peering at depths as deep as 700 meters, the researchers analyzed the structure of the seabed. Seeing active submarine canyons, mass wasting, landslides, and sediment slumps related to tectonic plate movements and earthquake activity.

The most important indicator for earth quake activity is the location of the fault. Looking at and beneath the seafloor, the team of researchers from three countries saw how the known active faults are deforming the upper sediments of the Red Sea. They also saw other faults know just how many active faults are in the region. This should help predict where the next big earthquake will strike.

What made their study particularly unique is that they used the offset along linear structures, of fossil coral fringing-reefs to measure what they call “lateral slip across active faults.” With this knowledge, researchers were able to calculate total slip and slip-rates and how active the fault has become.

Working with an international team of Israelis, Americans and Jordanians, Prof. Ben-Avraham and his team are developing a new method to determine what areas in a fault zone region are most at risk. Using a marine vessel, he and his colleagues are surveying a unique geological phenomenon of the Red Sea, near the coastal cities of Eilat and Aqaba – but their research could be applied anywhere, including Japan and the west coast of the U.S.

“We can now identify high-risk locations with more certainty, and this is a boon to city planners. It’s just a matter of time before we’ll need to test how well cities will withstand the force of the next earthquake. It’s a matter of proper planning,” concludes Hartman.
In a recently published in the journal Geo-Marine Letters, the research details a “mass wasting” of large detached blocks and collapsed walls of submarine canyons along the gulf region of the Red Sea. They believe the geological changes were triggered by earthquake activity.

Now it is possible to identify high-risk locations with more certainty, and this is a boon to city planners and disaster/emergency teams. It’s just a matter of time before we’ll need to test how well cities will withstand the force of the next earthquake. It’s a matter of proper planning to help save lives.

Resources

Excerpts and Image courtesy of   http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Fault_Finding_Coral_Reefs_Can_Predict_the_Site_of_Coming_Earthquakes_999.html

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1 Comment

  1. rastus74 said,

    March 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    It’s good to come across some forward thinking research and planning being applied to this problem – a good article.


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