|The death count from earthquakes in Afghanistan in the past few months has nearly reach the number dead from bombing. Now a journalist with a background in geophysics presents compelling evidence that the series of severe quakes in Afghanistan has been caused by the U.S. bombing campaign.
The following article was first published by NewsInsider, a fantastic alternative news weblog
Introduction: CRASH COURSE IN GEOPHYSICS
Afghanistan lies in one of the most active seismic zones on the planet (1) . Here, tectonic plates - huge pieces of Earth's crust - are in the continuous process of colliding, ramming against each other with enough force to heave rock upward, like dirt before a bulldozer. Over geologic time, this upward thrust of material has formed the rugged mountains found in the region. This constant tectonic force also creates a network of faults, like cracks radiating across a plaster ceiling. Overall these processes are occurring on such slow timescales they aren't felt on Earth's surface - you don't see mountains grow or continents shift shape in a human lifetime. But, sometimes, these processes give rise to abrupt events that are felt on the surface. In a tectonic zone, the rocks on either side of a fault don't remain still - relentless push of the huge moving plates exert a steady push against these sections. The sections keep grinding against each other until one or the other gives way. Then a section slides forward suddenly before settling once more. This sudden slip is what causes most earthquakes (2). Earthquakes can be either shallow, with centers near the surface, or deep, with centers located hundreds of kilometers below the surface. Seismicity refers to the waves of energy radiating through the planet's solid mass. Seismic waves can either be confined to the upper layers of the crust or they can penetrate through the planet itself and thereby be detected many thousands of miles away.
AFGHANISTAN’S ACHILLE’S HEELS: Faults, Tunnels, and Rockbursts
Afghanistan is crisscrossed with faults - a perfect stage for earthquakes, which are naturally more frequent here than most places. However, this rugged land also has another unique feature: it is honeycombed in some places by caves and tunnels. As any mine engineer knows, a tunnel changes the physics of the surrounding mass of rock because it introduces empty space. In a stable zone, this is not necessarily dangerous, because most mining tunnels and tunnels for roads or train tracks are well-reinforced and are not subject to huge, unusual stresses. However, in many active mines where blasting is common, minor seismic events can be induced. These events can lead to a cataclysmic structural rupture called "rockburst”. According to the Mining Induced Seismicity Monitoring and Control Services, "Rockburst problems usually involve violent failures and ejection of large quantities of rock, ranging from a fraction of a cubic meter to thousands of cubic meters. The seismic energy associated with the rock ejection process can reach the equivalent of a magnitude five earthquake as designated on the Richter scale." (3)
Many scientific studies have been done in the last two decades by geophysicists and engineers on the forces that can induce earthquakes, including rockburst.. However, the US Geological Survey has maintained a fierce "There's no such thing as an induced earthquake” stance. Why? Because the things that have been linked to induced quakes are things which a few, but very powerful, factions in the US government have a vested interest in perpetuating: the damming of rivers (the huge weight of the new water body created causes geologic settling, which, in turn, can cause create earthquake-inducing stresses) bombing campaigns, underground nuclear blasts, oil extraction operations (the removal of huge reservoirs of subsurface oil can cause a geologic shift), and mining operations.
Many of Afghanistan's tunnels are ancient structures, most of them designed to carry streams of water from aquifers below mountains (4). During the 1980s, hundreds of miles of new tunnels were created, many of them with the aid of the CIA, and many of them very deep, designed to withstand heavy bombing. These tunnels, blasted through some of the most unstable terrain on Earth, have in fact been seismic disasters waiting to happen. Take a look at the list of 91 scientific articles on rock burst, mining, and induced seismicity from just one technical source: (4)
DAISY CUTTER QUAKES
The constant, systematic bombardment of tectonically unstable terrain by bombs (5, 6), especially 15,000-ton "daisy cutters," would, alone, be enough to trigger a quake in a zone where the stress on a fault had reached a critical, and thus fragile point. But add to this equation, the presence of a network of caves, and the attendant increased risk of rockburst, and you have the makings for a lethal seismic domino effect. First, the bombs collapse sections of tunnel, or sufficiently stress them vibrationally to induce multiple rockburst events. The rockbursts, in turn, send seismic waves of substantial magnitude radiating through the earthquake prone area. .Voila! - an earthquake is triggered. It would be far more incredible NOT to have increased earthquake activity occur in the face of such an assault under these conditions than to have NO increase.. Needless to say, the Bush “science teams” (well paid to spout the required “facts”) claim the bombing is totally unrelated to the earthquakes. But the facts are overwhelming against such an outrageously general and unfounded assumption.
According to this U.S. government disclaimer (6), shallow earthquakes (which, it admits here can be induced by human activity) aren't particularly serious. However, in Afghanistan, this is simply untrue. Because of the extreme instability of the area, shallow quakes can cause just as much - if not sometimes more - damage than deep quakes. For example, an earthquake in June, 1956 that had a focal depth of just 60 kilometers (very shallow for a large quake) had a magnitude of 7.6 and caused extensive damage and 400 deaths. Another quake in 1976 in northeastern Afghanistan, which registered 5.5 on the Richter and claimed 1,200 lives, had a depth of just 33 kilometers. In 1999, a quake not far from Kabul with a depth of 33 km killed 70 and left 14,000 homeless (7). The point is, instabilities near the surface of Afghanistan are major, and the shockwaves that persistent disturbances at this level can transmit might be expected to set off a chain reaction of instability at much greater depths.
In addition to the immediate loss of life caused by these earthquakes, the disturbance has shaken landmines back to the surface, which will inevitably kill hundreds over the coming months and years. It is rumored that more U.S. soldiers have already been injured by mines (two deaths in fact may be due to mines) than reported by the Pentagon. In addition to this type of danger, the water supply - in precious short supply even under optimal conditions - has been ruined by bombing and metallic contaminants in water in some areas.(8)
DIRECT EVIDENCE OF BOMBING INDUCED QUAKES
The Bush administration scientists claim that the Afghanistan earthquakes which have shaken the country since October, 2001 are just normal occurrences for the region. Yes, a high frequency of quakes IS normal for this region. But not the frequency of high-magnitude quakes which have rocked the war- and drought-torn country for the past six months. For the past 16 years, roughly one major quake has occurred in Afghanistan every 2 years, with one quake of a 7.0 magnitude hitting every 4 years. There have been just 23 quakes with a magnitude of over 7.0 since 1900. The frequency of high-magnitude quakes over the centuries does not appear to have exceeded this average significantly - even in the volatile Hindu Kush region. However, since October 2002 - in just 6 months - there have already been THREE quakes with a magnitude greater than 7.0! This means, statistically, that the rate of major events is roughly 24 TIMES higher now than it was before the bombing campaign began. This is what any researcher would describe as way beyond the realm of statistical coincidence.(9)
In addition, the number of strong and remarkably shallow quakes has increased. For example, a quake on April 12, 2002 that had a magnitude of 5.9 had a depth of just 10 km!
So, as the Bush administration continues to pound one of Earth’s most earthquake-vulnerable zones with bombs and deny the link to the series of devastating quakes, the death toll continues to rise. While bombing has so far killed an estimated 3,500 (minimum) Afghans, the death toll from earthquakes, both direct and secondary (tainted water, injury, etc.) has met this body count - and may soon surpass it.
FOOTNOTE LINKS at website page:
Murder Once Removed
US Bombing Responsible for Deadly Quakes
By Cheryl Seal
Posted on the Independent Newswire on 18 April 2002
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