Ibero-American News Digest
Demeter Data Identified Possible Precursors to Chile's 2010 Earthquake
April 4 (EIRNS)Data recorded by the French Demeter satellite in February of 2010 demonstrated ionospheric perturbations which seismologists concluded could be considered precursors to that year's devastating Feb. 27 earthquake in south-central Chile, which measured 8.8 on the Richter scale.
French astrophysicist Michel Parrot of the European Space Agency (ESA), who also worked as a guest-researcher on the Demeter team, provided a report to the South American science blog, http://clubdeastronomia.wordpress.com, which documented these variations, beginning about 10 to 20 days before the Feb. 27 quake. They showed a significant increase in plasma density, observed both vertically over what became the rupture zone, and also at locations where the future epicenter was geomagnetically related to the height of the wave.
Between Feb. 10 and 18, 2010, Demeter passed over the same region of Chile each day, close to a specific point. It recorded significant variations in the ion charge, and in the density of electrons near what became the Feb. 27 quake epicenter. On Feb. 10, 2010 at 0025UT [UT=universal time, a timescale based on the rotation of the Earth], the Langmuir Probe Instrument (ISL) detected a sudden increase in the density of the plasma, vertically over the future epicenter. A similar pattern occurred on Feb. 18, nine days before the quake. Throughout this entire time interval, the density increased globally, but presented two important high points, the first at 0233 UT, and the second at 0234 and 0235 UT. During the first of these points of maximum density, the satellite was located in the orbit closest to the future epicenter, at an altitude of 660 km.
Note that during the three-year period 2007-10, Demeter monitored density variations in the area close to what became the 2010 quake epicenter, always at the same local time (nocturnal orbit), and always during the period that spanned the beginning of January to the end of March. According to the data, a big increase in plasma density is generally highly unusual in this particular region and within the indicated timeframe. It was therefore concluded that the increases observed during the days prior to the Feb. 27 quake "could be considered as possible precursors of that powerful quake."
Chilean Authorities Ignored Warnings of 2010 Earthquake
April 4 (EIRNS)Prior to the Feb. 27, 2010 earthquake in Chile, both Chilean and foreign seismologists tried to warn government authorities that a big quake was likely sometime soon in south-central Chile. According to several reports, the authorities weren't interested in these warnings.
Daniel Melnick, a geologist at the University of Potsdam, Germany, told the BBC in August 2010 that seismologists warned Chilean authorities earlier that year of a possible disaster, but the authorities failed to act. Their rationale was that if an earthquake threat were made public, people would panic and this would affect "property values." Real estate speculators and developers who build high-rise hotels or luxury apartment buildings along the Chilean coast were more concerned with their profits.
Several months prior to the February quake, scientists met with authorities in the city of Talcahuano, and warned that an earthquake and tsunami were likely; again, the warnings weren't taken seriously. Leading Chilean seismologist Armando Cisternas even reported in a 2010 interview with the weekly El Siglo that some scientists have been threatened with arrest and lawsuits, for "scaring" people about possible earthquakes.
Seismologist Hernando Tavera, of the Peruvian Geophysical Institute, warned authorities in that country to prepare for a major earthquake, prior to the one that hit the Peruvian coast near the city of Ica on Aug. 16, 2007. Like his Chilean counterparts, Tavera also expects that the next big earthquake to hit Chile will be in the region known as the "Great North"specifically the region between Arica and Antofagastathat will also seriously affect southern Peru.
Mexico Has Model Earthquake Alert System
April 10 (EIRNS)In 1986, Mexico's Instrumentation and Seismic Registry Center (CIRES) created an earthquake alert system, whose effectiveness is widely admired internationally today. CIRES created the system a year after the September 1985 quake which measured 8.1 on the Richter scale, killed more than 10,000 people, and wrought tremendous destruction in the capital of Mexico City.
The United States, which has no such warning system, would do well to examine what Mexico has accomplished in this area.
The CIRES warning system consists of several seismic stations set up on the Pacific coast of Guerrero state near the Coyuca de Benítez fault, which Mexico's Geophysical Union has identified as the most likely source of a future large earthquake. When the stations' sensors detect an earthquake, they emit a signal via radio wave that is instantaneously picked up in Mexico City, which then issues a public alert, giving people 60 seconds to abandon buildings, houses and other structures.
In Japan's March 11 earthquake, the public received only an 8-second warning, which nonetheless saved lives.
CIRES has developed a radio receiver that can pick up a seismic alert via three antennae installed in the Mexico City metropolitan area, which operate 24 hours a day. The Mexico City government is also sponsoring production of 50,000 battery-powered radios that will be installed in city schools by June of this year, that will be activated automatically in the event of an earthquake.
CIRES director Juan Manuel Espinoza warns, however, that it is essential that schools and other institutions regularly carry out simulated earthquake response drills, so the public will be fully prepared in the event of a real earthquake. Unfortunately, he states, there is not enough awareness today of the necessity of such drills.
In Haiti's Unending Crisis, Cholera Cases Increase
April 9 (EIRNS)Contrary to those experts who proclaimed Haiti's cholera epidemic to be declining, cholera cases are now increasing, following increased rainfall in late March. And, during the rainy season of April and May, they are expected to spike even further.
Yet Haiti's government has no means to deal with a ratcheting-up of cases. Thanks to Barack Obama's refusal to listen to Lyndon LaRouche, after the January 2010 earthquake, and deploy the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Haiti on an emergency basis, none of the sanitation infrastructure the country so desperately needs has been built. A million people still remain in squalid and unsafe camps in the capital, which are breeding grounds for cholera. Insanely, many of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which provided medical care following the October 2010 cholera outbreak, have now left the country, claiming that a decline in cases showed they "weren't needed."
New cases have been reported all over the country, with the western region being particularly vulnerable, due to lack of health centers or transportation infrastructure. Death rates are as high as 8% in this region, as they are also in the Southeast department.
At an April 6 meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted that "the cholera appeal is 45% funded, and the overall Haiti Appeal received only 10% of the requested funds. Additional financial support is urgently needed." Moreover, he warned, Haiti's economy is still "on its knees," and "public institutions are barely able to deliver essential services.... Millions of Haitians remain dependent on the assistance of non-governmental organizations to meet their most basic needs."
At the same UNSC meeting, outgoing Haitian President Réne Preval identified the real issue that must be addressed. Demanding that the United Nations completely rethink its approach to Haiti, Preval argued that over the past decade, "tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers should have given way to bulldozers, engineers, more police instructors, experts in support [of] justice and to the penitentiary system." Instability in Haiti, he stated, is "basically due to underdevelopment ... in other words, unsatisfied elementary socioeconomic rights." Only if Haiti develops economically, he said, will it have a chance to survive.