Safe Human Settlement Policy Initiative

Safe Human Settlement Policy Initiative

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What Difference Does A Week Make?

Last Sunday, there was a 7.3 earthquake reported in Iran, near the Iraqi border.  Just 8 hours later, Costa Rica experienced a 6.5 quake.  These were on the heels of 5 major earthquakes (>6.0) reported over the last week, plus dozens of moderate quakes (>4.0) that hit hotspots like the Pacific Rim.  News reports called the Iranian quake the deadliest of the year, adding that “at least 452 people were killed and thousands injured… and was felt as far away as Turkey and Pakistan.” 


Scientists are divided about an increase in the frequency of earthquakes and statistics show ebbs and spikes are cyclical over time.  Other natural events—particularly weather events—do seem to be increasing, if not in frequency, at least in strength.   

Interestingly, there those scientists who think the two may be related, at least on some level.  They’ve identified statistical (indirect) relationships between the two.  Others have demonstrated that a phenomenon known as “slow earthquakes” can be triggered by major atmospheric disturbances like hurricanes and typhoons.  (Wikipedia defines a slow earthquake as “a discontinuous, earthquake-like event that releases energy over a period of hours to months, rather than the seconds to minutes characteristic of a typical earthquake.") That sounds like an interesting topic for another time.

The message here is that, whether they are increasing or we’re simply experiencing an anecdotal spike in natural disasters, they will continue to come. Nobody is predicting a reduction in the future.  Thus building resilience into our cities and adapting our communities to survive these events should remain a top priority.

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