China Earthquake
12 May 2008

Roger Musson from the British Geological Survey

At 06h 28m GMT today, the rocks either side of a major fault in south-west China suddenly and violently broke apart.

The shock waves spread out in all directions, like waves in a pond. In a mere seven minutes, the fastest waves reached the UK, where they were recorded on monitoring equipment up and down the country, operated by the British Geological Survey.

BGS, a component of the Natural Environment Research Council, is the UK’s national institute for all aspects of earth sciences.

While the seismic network is primarily directed to recording British earthquakes, the larger earthquakes from all over the world are also picked up.

Quickly alerted, BGS seismologists analysed the data and prepared an alert to inform government and relief organisations.

In the long term, data gathered about earthquakes such as this one can be used to build up a picture of the rate and severity of earthquakes in different parts of the world, used to assist engineers in designing safer buildings.

Ultimately, most earthquake deaths are caused by collapsing buildings. A safer urban environment is the key to reducing death tolls in the future.


Written by Eyewitness, 12 May 2008


This will provide no comfort for the current victims of the China earthquake, but replacement buildings must be of the 'quake resistant type. The technology is avaialble and following generations should not suffer such appalling loss of life.

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