Earthquakes: Scientifically Fascinating Phenomena with Tragic Consequences for People

Posted by Alan Kafka on January 23, 2010

The tragic earthquake that occurred in Haiti on January 12, 2010, once again reminds me of the importance of being sensitive in our roles as seismologists regarding the human tragedy caused by powerful earthquakes. It is always a challenge for seismologists to find the correct balance among conveying scientific information about “interesting” earthquakes, communicating our amazement at the incredible power of natural forces in the Earth, and remembering to be sensitive about the human tragedy caused by large earthquakes. But the scientific study of earthquakes is not just fascinating, it’s also practical. Through scientific research on earthquakes we can take positive action that leads to making people safer from the devastating effects of earthquakes. We can mitigate some of the consequences of earthquakes through increasing our understanding of the causes of earthquakes, improving seismic hazard mapping, building more seismically resistant buildings, and developing better emergency management plans to help the victims when tragic earthquakes do strike.

It is important in our roles as seismologists and educators not to forget that the phenomenon we study, and find to be so fascinating, has such tragic consequences for people. But that fascination with the incredible power of earthquakes also inspires people to study them and to unravel their mysteries so that we can take positive action to minimize their tragic consequences.

One thought on “Earthquakes: Scientifically Fascinating Phenomena with Tragic Consequences for People

  1. Hello, Want to hear a conspiresy theory? I have done research on the lower Penobscot river basin near the Maine coast for a long time. With help from the Internet,I’ve compiled data from geologic,anthropological,and various other cross referances. It is my conclusion that an earhquake fault exists under the Penobscot river from Searsport to Hamden. I base part of this on the side fault that extends eastward from the river up past the Bucksport Jr. High school and up the dainage canal from School st. to Silver Lake dam. Anouther source is a Penoscot nation story of Alonquin hero “Glooscap”. My gut feeling as to why it’s not on maps is for National Security. Port Arthur,near Hamden,Maine is a nucear submarine supply depot and maintenance area. Submarines of all sizes can slip undetected because the river channel there is in excess of 430 ft deep so that they may travel submerged nearly all the way. I also believe that Verona Island,Maine was once part of mountian on opposite end of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and the river used to flow past the western side of this mountian(Mt. Tuck),and flow out a canyon near Sandy Point. Is this all ravings of a Kook? Look for yourselves.

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