Understanding Disaster

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit Iran April 9 2013. Sixteen aftershocks followed. Two villages were completely destroyed. Nearly 40 people died; 850 were injured, and 700 homes were destroyed. Fortunately, the Bushehr nuclear power plant was not damaged, but many homes in the mostly rural area are made of mud bricks, so they break apart easily in a country with many quakes.

Collocation: When earthquakes happen, we say that they hit or strike.

Iran sits on major fault lines. Several very destructive earthquakes have happened in recent years. In 2003 a 6.6 magnitude quake flattened the city of Bam and killed more than 25,000 people. Last August more than 300 people were killed when two quakes hit the northwest part of the country. How can people prepare themselves for such disasters?  Is preparation even possible?

Science knows areas where earthquakes are more likely, but the when and exactly where is a mystery. Seismologist Richard Musson wrote a book called The Million Death Quake which tries to answer questions and common misunderstandings about earthquakes. The Word was able to ask him some questions. Mr Musson said there is a lot of misunderstanding about earthquakes. For example, earthquakes are not holes opening in the ground. Parts of the Earth’s crust move along a fault line and this movement releases a lot of energy.

“Earthquakes do not open up huge crevasses that swallow whole towns. Earthquakes kill people because houses are usually not built to stand up to such shaking; they collapse and bury people in the ruins,” he explained.

Adjectives for countries: Usually when something is from either Haiti or Chile we use the adjectives Haitian and Chilean. However, these adjectives suggest the object or person came from these places. Because the earthquake happened in these countries but was not a product of their history or culture we use Haiti earthquake and Chile earthquake.

In his book, Mr Musson discusses many earthquakes that have happened over the years, some well-known, some not. One interesting example he gave was a comparison of the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Maule, Chile. Nearly everyone still remembers the Haiti earthquake – the capital Port-au-Prince was absolutely destroyed and 360,000 people died. Do you remember the Chile quake that happened about a month later? The country was struck by a quake hundreds of times stronger than the Haiti quake. The death toll was 521. The lower number of deaths is probably because Chile has many earthquakes and the buildings are designed to withstand them.

“The idea of prediction is to save lives by having buildings empty when an earthquake occurs,” he said. “The idea of preparation is to save lives by having buildings stay up in earthquakes then it doesn’t matter if they are empty or not when the quake strikes.”

In order for buildings to survive earthquakes, new buildings must be earthquake-proof and older buildings need to be strengthened. However, in poorer countries, a lack of money might mean not everything can be fixed, so cities will have to prioritize.

“Your hospitals must survive and stay functional, likewise your fire stations. One of the problems of the 2010 Haiti earthquake was that the government buildings collapsed; the country was politically decapitated,” Mr Musson said.

Seismologists have accepted that earthquakes don’t seem to follow a schedule and looking for signs doesn’t always work. Mr Musson gave an example of an earthquake in Parkfield, California in 2006.

“[That part of the San Andreas Fault] was heavily monitored for all sorts of possible precursors,” he said. “Nothing was detected before the earthquake occurred. So we can be sure that even if there is something that happens before some earthquakes, there is nothing that happens before all earthquakes.”

Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

Word List Bubble

Understanding Disaster Quiz: Medium

Start

Congratulations - you have completed Understanding Disaster Quiz: Medium.

You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%.

Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%


Your answers are highlighted below.
Return
Shaded items are complete.
12345
End
Return

On April 9 2013 an earthquake with a strength of 6.3 hit Iran. Two villages were completely destroyed. Nearly 40 people died, 850 were injured, and 700 homes were destroyed. Unfortunately, Iran has many earthquakes because it is on a fault line. Is it possible to predict earthquakes in countries like this one?

Collocation: When an earthquake happens, we say that they hit or strike.

Science knows areas where earthquakes are more likely, but the when and exactly where is a mystery. Seismologist Richard Musson wrote a book called The Million Death Quake which tries to answer questions and common misunderstandings about earthquakes. The Word was able to ask him some questions.

“(When an earthquake occurs) rocks suddenly slip past one another along a discontinuity in the earth’s crust – what we call a fault,” Mr Musson explained. “This releases energy that radiates out as waves, which we feel as shaking.” Earthquakes are not holes which suddenly open up in the ground.

Adjectives for countries: Usually when something is from either Haiti or Chile we use the adjectives Haitian and Chilean. However, these adjectives suggest the object or person came from these places. Because the earthquake happened in these countries but was not a product of their history or culture we use Haiti earthquake and Chile earthquake.

In his book, Mr Musson discusses many earthquakes that have happened over the years, some well-known, some not. He gives an interesting example of the Haiti and Chile earthquakes in 2010. Around 360,000 people died in Haiti. The Chile quake happened about a month later. Five hundred and twenty one people died. The lower number of deaths is probably because Chile has many earthquakes and the buildings are designed to withstand them.

Making earthquake-proof new buildings is very important. Cities also have to make older buildings stronger. However, if there is not enough money, cities will have to decide which buildings are more important.

“Your hospitals must survive and stay functional, likewise your fire stations. One of the problems of the 2010 Haiti earthquake was that the government buildings collapsed; the country was politically decapitated,” Mr Musson said.

Seismologists accept that earthquakes are very difficult to predict. Mr Musson gave an example of an earthquake in Parkfield, California in 2006.

“[That part of the San Andreas Fault] was heavily monitored for all sorts of possible precursors,” he said. “Nothing was detected before the earthquake occurred. So we can be sure that even if there is something that happens before some earthquakes, there is nothing that happens before all earthquakes.”

Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

Word List Bubble

Understanding Disaster Quiz: Mild

Start

Congratulations - you have completed Understanding Disaster Quiz: Mild.

You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%.

Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%


Your answers are highlighted below.
Return
Shaded items are complete.
12345
End
Return

Two villages decimated. Nearly 40 people dead, 850 injured and 700 homes destroyed. A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit Iran April 9 2013, bringing with it 16 aftershocks. The first fear was possible damage to the Bushehr nuclear power plant but the plant was unaffected. Rescue workers worked through the night searching for possible survivors. Many homes in the mostly rural province are made of mud bricks which crumble easily in quake prone Iran. Residents often chose to stay in the streets, traumatized by the continuing aftershocks.

Iran sits on major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 which flattened the city of Bam and killed more than 25,000 people. Last August more than 300 people were killed when two quakes struck in the northwest part of the country. How can people prepare themselves for such disasters?  Are such preparations even feasible? Meteorologists know when severe storms are coming, the weather can be monitored and people warned. But earthquakes happen underground. Science knows areas that are more likely to be hit, but the when and exact where is a mystery. Seismologist Richard Musson wrote a book called The Million Death Quake which seeks to answer questions and common misunderstandings about earthquakes. He answered some questions for The Word about predicting earthquakes, and preparing for them.

Interestingly, Mr Musson said it is amazing how much misunderstanding there is surrounding earthquakes.

“(When an earthquake occurs) rocks suddenly slip past one another along a discontinuity in the earth’s crust – what we call a fault. This releases energy that radiates out as waves, which we feel as shaking,” he said. “Earthquakes do not open up huge crevasses that swallow whole towns. Earthquakes kill people because houses are usually not built to stand up to such shaking; they collapse and bury people in the ruins.”

Adjectives for countries: Usually when something is from either Haiti or Chile we use the adjectives Haitian and Chilean. However, these adjectives suggest the object or person came from these places. Because the earthquake happened in these countries but was not a product of their history or culture we use Haiti earthquake and Chile earthquake.

In his book, Mr Musson discusses many earthquakes that have happened over the years, some newsworthy, some not. One interesting example he shared was a comparison of the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Maule, Chile. Nearly everyone still remembers the Haiti earthquake – the capital Port-au-Prince was devastated and 360,000 people died. Do you recall the Chile quake that happened about a month later? Chile, a country that is known to have an earthquake problem, was struck by a quake hundreds of times more powerful than the Haiti quake. Death toll here – 521. As Mr Musson points out – the size of a quake is not always a determiner of its potential destruction, but how well a city is prepared.

“The idea of prediction is to save lives by having buildings empty when an earthquake occurs,” he said. “The idea of preparation is to save lives by having buildings stay up in earthquakes then it doesn’t matter if they are empty or not when the quake strikes.”

He says in order for buildings to survive earthquakes, two things need to happen. New buildings need to be built to be earthquake-proof and measures must be taken to strengthen older buildings

“That can be difficult in large, old cities in developing countries, where there are not the resources to fix everything,” he said. “In which case, firstly, it’s important to establish priorities. Your hospitals must survive and stay functional, likewise your fire stations. One of the problems of the 2010 Haiti earthquake was that the government buildings collapsed; the country was politically decapitated.”

Funny: Funny is a funny word. It has more than one meaning. Funny can mean humorous or comic but it can also mean strange.

Seismologists know where the major fault lines around the world are located and these areas are constantly monitored. But earthquakes are funny things – they don’t always telephone ahead to let you know they are coming.

“Seismologists have for some years suspected that routine earthquake prediction is an impossible task, and it seems more and more likely that this is true, at least in the sense of a prediction method that works reliably,” he said. “To be socially useful, one needs some system that always gives a warning before an earthquake, and never gives a warning when there is no earthquake.”

Mr Musson shares a case in point.

“In 2006 an earthquake occurred at Parkfield, California on part of the San Andreas Fault that was heavily monitored for all sorts of possible precursors,” he said. “Nothing was detected before the earthquake occurred. So we can be sure that even if there is something that happens before some earthquakes, there is nothing that happens before all earthquakes.”

Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona

Word List Bubble

Understanding Disaster Quiz: Spicy

Start

Congratulations - you have completed Understanding Disaster Quiz: Spicy.

You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%.

Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%


Your answers are highlighted below.
Return
Shaded items are complete.
12345
End
Return

Leave a comment





three × 6 =