World’s worst quakes ‘caused by humans’

Updated 22 January 2014
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World’s worst quakes ‘caused by humans’

LONDON: Some of the world’s largest and most deadly recent earthquakes were not natural disasters at all but were caused by human activities such as mining, reservoir construction and oil and gas extraction, scientists say.
A global study of hundreds of quakes by Christian Klose, a consultant geophysicist, identified 92 large earthquakes likely to have been caused by humans.
Klose said that the Earth’s crust is littered with geological faults under enormous tensions similar to those in a coiled spring.
When humans pile up vast masses of water or minerals on the surface, or extract them from beneath, the change in the weight of the overlying land can be enough to release that geological tension, causing an earthquake. “The data specifically shows that human-made mass changes can advance the clock of natural seismic cycles and induce or trigger new earthquakes,” said Klose.
According to the research, the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China, which had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed 80,000 people, was triggered by the construction of the Zipingu reservoir. In Britain, the 2007 Folkestone earthquake, which rocked southeast England and measured 4.3, was triggered by the millions of tons of shingle piled up to protect Folkestone harbor, ‘The Times’ reported.
The study said the 2011 earthquake in Lorca, southeast Spain was apparently triggered by water being extracted from underground reservoirs.
Another, with a magnitude of 5.6, hit Newcastle, Australia, in 1989; 13 people died and hundreds were injured.
Klose linked this with the amount of coal extracted from nearby mines.
The research is published in the Journal of Seismology.


EU leaders’ decision on Brexit delay unlikely this week: Juncker

Updated 16 min 37 sec ago
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EU leaders’ decision on Brexit delay unlikely this week: Juncker

  • The delay, nearly three years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, leaves the Brexit divorce uncertain

BERLIN: European Union leaders are unlikely to agree at a summit this week on a delay to Britain’s departure, and will probably have to meet again next week, the head of the bloc’s executive branch said Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to ask Brussels for a delay to Brexit, currently scheduled for March 29, ahead of the EU summit starting Thursday. Details remain unclear, but May’s troubles deepened when the speaker of the House of Commons ruled earlier this week that she can’t keep asking lawmakers to vote on the same divorce deal they have already rejected twice.

Britain’s political chaos is causing increasing exasperation among EU leaders. Asked by Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio what May would need to secure a delay this week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker replied that “she must bring approval of the negotiated deal and she must bring clear ideas on timing.”

“My impression is ... that this week at the European Council there will be no decision, but that we will probably have to meet again next week, because Mrs. May doesn’t have agreement to anything, either in her Cabinet or in Parliament,” Juncker added.

“As long as we don’t know what Britain could say yes to, we can’t reach a decision.”

A delay to Britain’s withdrawal would require the approval of all 27 remaining EU countries. Juncker said that “in all probability” Britain won’t leave on March 29, but underlined the EU’s insistence that it will not reopen the painstakingly negotiated withdrawal agreement that British lawmakers have snubbed.

“There will be no renegotiations, no new negotiations and no additional assurances on top of the additional assurances we have already given,” he said.

“We will keep talking to the British. We are not in a state of war with Britain, we are in a state of negotiations, but the negotiations are concluded.”