09 April 2005

Historic Earthquakes

I've been reading Sharon Hudgin's The Other Side of Russia (more on this one when I'm finished) and came across a reference to a series of earthquake in 1862 that caused major damage around Lake Baykal. I have an morbid interest in natural disasters and historic ones are especially interesting to me. So, I set out to find more about earthquake activity around Lake Baykal.

During the Tsaganskoe earthquake 220 square kilometers of land sank 2 meters and were flooded to create Proval Bay where the Selenge Bay empties into Lake Baykal (Ulan-Ude where the Trans-Mongolian Railway breaks off the Trans-Siberian Railway is on the Selenge River). There were 5 Buryat villages in the area that were destroyed and flooded. There are conflicting estimates of the magnitude of the quake, but obviously, it was large.

It is interesting to compare earthquakes. Relatively small earthquakes (like in Bam in late 2003) can cause major damage while large ones go unnoticed (I bet you didn't hear much about the huge earthquake just a few days before the one in Indonesia).

Earthquakes can also have serious political implications. An earthquake in China in 1976 was probably seriously underreported, in part because the Chinese had only recently successfully predicted an earthquake and saved many lives.

Interesting stuff. I just wish there was more information (reliable information- it's too easy to find websites that promote wacky science). I'm going to check this book out to see if it's good. And this one about the New Madrid earthquakes. Sadly though, I've been disappointed by other books of this type (Krakatoa anyone?)

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