Archivos Mensuales: febrero 2013

Admitting our ignorance: unexpected earthquakes under the magnifying glass – Reportaje

In addictions the first and toughest step is admitting our fault. The same applies in science: assuming our ignorance pushes us beyond the starting line, ready to delve into the unknown. So when in May 12th, 2008 a devastating earthquake struck the Sichuan province in Southwest China -labeled as ‘moderately quiet’ in terms of seismicity-, it caught scientists by surprise and they had to admit their lack of understanding of seismic hazard in continental interiors.

But when an earthquake kills more than 80 000 people and inflicts economic loss exceeding 100 billion dollars (an amount larger than the GDP of two out of three countries in the world), assuming responsibility does not suffice.

Different snapshots of the damage caused by the great Sichuan earthquake, May 12th, 2008 (7).

Different snapshots of the damage caused by the great Sichuan earthquake, May 12th, 20087.

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