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It all started on Boxing Day

For a long time JP has wondered out loud that the Boxing Day quake had shaken up the earth so much it was causing all the other quakes around the region.

Tonight, the ABC’s 7.30 program interviewed Professor Kerry Sieh, a seismologist with the California Institute of Technology. Here is part of the transcript, which can also be seen (there’s a video link too), here:

“That sort of flurry of giant earthquakes has only occurred a couple of times in the historical records. We know there was a flurry of very large earthquakes in the 1830s, one of which Charles Darwin felt while he was in Chile during the voyage of the Beagle, and then again in the 1950s and early 1960s.

So the 2004 earthquake began a sequence that is now continuing through the Chilean earthquake of last year to the earthquake recently in Japan. We don’t know yet whether that’s going to be the end of it or whether in fact this extraordinarily robust sequence of great earthquakes will continue…

We can predict. We can’t predict the details of when a particular 8.4 or 8.7 or 9.2 or in the case of Christchurch a 6.3 will occur.

But we can say that there there be aftershocks to both the earthquakes that occurred last year in Chile, earthquakes that occurred in Christchurch and earthquake that occurred here in Japan.

For example, after the earthquake in 2004, we’ve had 50 earthquakes between magnitude 6 and 6.7 in Sumatra, we’ve had seven between, greater than 7.5. So we can say something about the numbers of aftershocks that will occur in that region of Japan.

We also have some long range forecasts of great earthquakes. For example, there’s an 8.8 that we forecast off the West coast of central Sumatra yet to happen. There are concerns about northern Chile, about southern Peru, which haven’t had great earthquakes for a long, long time. Similarly, between Taiwan and southern Japan and even parts of Japan still have the possibility of magnitude 8 or so in the next few decades.” – Professor Kerry Sieh

The terrible situation in Japan is a long way from being over. Even I, who lived through something similar, find it hard to comprehend what’s ahead for those communities. Until further notice, sales of my book (all of the income from the sales) will go towards disaster relief in Japan.

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