At just past five o'clock in the morning on 7 December 2016, a damaging earthquake struck Aceh, Indonesia. Damage was most severe in Pidie Jaya and neighbouring Pidie and Biruen Regencies, located east of the provincial capital of Banda Aceh. Extensive building damage tragically led to the loss of more than 100 lives. More than 80,000 people are displaced, unable to return because of destroyed or damaged buildings.
The previous post focused mainly on the 1991 Pinatubo eruption and how it affected humans and history (scientific in this case). Today’s post will cover a historic eruption that changed the course of history on one Indonesian island, and around the world.
Humans are fabulous agents of geologic change. What do I mean by this? We reduce the height of mountains via mountaintop mining to obtain energy resources. We blast through a mountain to make a road cut, or tunnel. We make new lakes by building dams for hydroelectric power. Indeed, we humans are capable of changing the landscape or environment (or climate for that matter) at rates much faster than normal geologic processes.
Several people who felt the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit New Zealand earlier this month also witnessed a strange phenomenon — lights flashing across the sky in a range of colours.
In the night of 21 November 2016 (local time), Japan was struck by a magnitude-6.9 earthquake. This was soon followed by a M 5.6 quake in New Zealand’s North Island, which sparked speculation that the event in Japan had triggered the one in New Zealand.
The recent powerful quakes that devastated the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island on 14 Nov 2016 may be part of a pattern emerging for large strike-slip fault earthquakes all around the world.
The New Zealand quakes are significant, because they did not occur on the country’s largest plate-boundary fault line, the Alpine Fault. They instead occurred on smaller nearby faults, and this is something that is happening to other such faults, most notably California’s San Andreas Fault.
As an academic who lectures regularly to a hall of about 300 students, he never thought that he would feel nervous in front of only eight people. And so he was surprised when he became increasingly aware of the loud pounding of his heart and the beads of sweat that began appearing on his forehead.
Welcome to the final part of our double-story feature for the 2016 Earth Science Week. Today, Dr Dawn Ruth, a Research Fellow in Assistant Professor Fidel Costa’s Volcano Group at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, shares her most memorable encounters from working in the field.
Our scientists travel widely for their research, and one of the most important aspects of it is conducting fieldwork. During their trips, they travel to landscapes almost entirely different from that of Singapore. They also meet all kinds of interesting people — enthusiastic groups of children curious about their scientific equipment, locals who regale them with folktales, and even earthquake survivors with amazing stories to tell.