Arun Bapat –
A moderate 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Uttarakhand on the night of February 6. As usual, there was the news rush — breaking news, specialists’ comments and the like. But the earthquake news was somewhat eclipsed by the current charged election environment.
An earthquake’s effects are all-pervasive and every sector needs to account for it. Earthquake mitigation efforts during the post-seismic period require large amounts of financial aid.
Most of the mitigation efforts are for the post-seismic (or post-disaster) period. The principal aim has been focused on engineering retrofitting and strengthening of weak structures. This involves some action that may be difficult to implement due to administrative and financial reasons.
There is, however, a silver lining. The seismo-electromagnetic effect (SME Effect) definitely provides a viable solution. It changes the post-seismic mitigation approach to pre-seismic mitigation. With the help of the SME it is possible to predict the occurrence of a destructive earthquake up to 10 hours in advance.
How does this work? Before an earthquake occurs the temperature at the hypocentre (the underground point below the epicentre) rises. This reduces the earth’s magnetic field and adversely affects electromagnetic communication. About 10 hours before an earthquake, the reception on television sets witness audio, visual and spectral disturbances. The frequency of disturbances goes on increasing till the earthquake strikes.
This was observed and noted for the first time by several people in Maharashtra prior to the 1993 Latur earthquake. It was observed in Bhuj before the destructive quake of January 26, 2001.
This “minus ten hours before” precursor is followed by another extremely reliable one. It appears about 100 minutes before a quake. All mobile telephones in the entire epicentral area get disrupted. Landlines continue to function but the audibility is affected and is accompanied by noise.
Thus, if it is found that the functioning of mobile telephones is affected in an extensive area of 30 to 70 km radius or more, it could be assumed that an earthquake would occur within the next 100 minutes or so.
It is extremely essential to create seismic awareness among the common people of seismically-active states. In addition to preparedness, mitigation and prevention, it is also essential to educate the people about reliable short-term seismic precursors. The palliative solutions, monetary compensation and piecemeal solutions may be reduced as these have limited value and at times could be wasteful. — IANS
Arun Bapat –