In 1975, Haicheng is a teeming city of in China with more than 1 million people. On February 4 the city was hit by an strong earthquake of seismic magnitude 7.5. Thousands of buildings collapsed and within minutes, the city was in ruins. However Haicheng earthquake is not remembered for its devastation but for being the most successful predictions that saved lakhs of lives, thanks to the animals who predicted it.
What are the effects of earthquake?
If the earthquake had taken its normal toll, the death toll would have been a devastating 150,000 lives. However only 2,000 people lost their lives. The credit goes to the Chinese authorities who had noticed the strange behaviours of animals and natural surroundings. Dogs, cats, hens, mouse showed unusual activity. They froze or acted nervously for no reason. Hens would not lay eggs, geese flew away. Fish in aquariums became agitated. The authorities matched these signs with changes in water level and decided to evacuate the city. A high alert was placed and although it was a tough call to make such a decision based on animal behaviour, their wisdom paid off. A huge quake hit the city leaving it in ruins. The few people who had refused to leave sadly faced the disaster, leaving them dead or injured.
Although it sounds unbelievable, various studies and practical experiences have shown that animals predict earthquakes. In ancient Greece, records are found which describe how snakes, rats and other animals leave the city before a destructive tremor. Japan is one of those places most affected by seismic activity. It is no secret that Japanese usually keep an aquarium, not only for entertainment but also as a way to notice an upcoming quake. Fish also sense it beforehand.
Earthquake is not just a tremor. It literally comes deep from the earth carrying with it a lot of force. Scientists yet know more about the effects of earthquake than what causes it. An earthquake is measured by a seismograph in Richter scale and its impact depends upon the depth, location and cause and other factors. According to researchers, earthquakes occur under our feet most of the time but are so low in magnitude that those are not felt by us. It is felt by humans more and more as it reaches 5 to 6 in magnitude. A 7 to 8 in Richter scale is definitely a destructive earthquake.
Before an earthquake there is a movement of the tectonic plates inside the earth and before it hits us, many changes happen in the environment. Before the tremor comes to the surface, vibrations of the quake are felt by animals who are more closely connected to Mother Nature. There are subtle changes in the atmosphere.
When the quake hits us, the ground on which we stand starts to quaver. Buildings and bridges collapse due to unsteady grounding and soil liquefaction. Landslides happen in mountainous regions, sea shores get tsunamis and rough waves. The quake leaves skyscrapers in dust and thousands dead. Even after the quake there can be aftershocks. An earthquake not only affects people physically but also shocks them psychologically leaving them confused and afraid.
The infamous tsunami of 2004 hit the shores claiming 227,898 lives. It was borne out of a huge earthquake of magnitude 9.1 – 9.3. A few days before the tsunami hit the shores, beach goers faced erratic behaviour of jellyfish and other aquatic creatures. It seemed that millions of these creatures were mass moving or coming towards the beaches without any apparent reason.
Many tribes notice these sudden changes in animals and act accordingly. Although scientists cannot yet prove how or why, but animals do warn us before any natural disaster. Thousands of pet owners will vouch for it. Cat and dog owners around the world have reported unusual activity of their pets before a quake struck the place.
Perhaps we should start paying more attention to the ways of animals and Mother Nature.
What Are The Earthquake Lights?
An EQL or earthquake light is a yet to be explained phenomenon. These strange lights can be seen in the sky before or during earthquake. EQLs have also been seen near volcanic eruptions.
Earthquake lights can look similar to the aurora borealis but act differently. Its colour can range from white to blue as well as any other colour, making it an odd occurrence. Recently many videos have been recorded of this strange lights during or before an earthquake. Usually the EQLs appear when the earthquakes appear above 5 Richter Scale. Scientists are studying this so that it could used as a warning sign and people can be warned.
It is difficult to study EQLs as these appear briefly. These lights can take various forms. They can look like beams, auroras to balls and can also have motion. Sometimes, spectators have mistaken these EQLs as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) due to lack of explanation.
Also pre-seismic earthquake lights can appear anytime. It can be just a few minutes before the earthquake. Sometimes these lights appear even weeks above the epicenter. Scientists say that possibly the EQLs are a result of the change in the ionosphere due to changes in earth’s magnetic field around the time of the tremor. It seems that birds and other animals are able to read these signs that predict earthquakes while we are still struggling with it.
Earthquake Tracking Websites
With the change in climate and erratic changes due to global warming, new ways have come up to keep track of the earthquakes that happen around the world every day. This information is not only for the scientists but is also available for everyone. There are many websites and apps today that keeps us updated with earthquake occurrences. Here are some of these-
USGS – The official website for U.S. Geological Survey is one of the best places to keep pace with earth facts in real time. According to USGS, they keep us informed about the “natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change. Our scientists develop new methods and tools to supply timely, relevant, and useful information about the Earth and its processes.”
QuakeFeed – Quakefeed is one of the best apps that keep us updated with quakes real time. It can set by region and help you to help and locate earthquake affected people.
Global Incident Map – Global Incident Map is one of the most resourceful tools out there. This tool is a great help for journalists, doctors and rescue operators. Not only does this tool give you live updates on quakes anywhere in the world but all threats globally. It gives latest notice on what part of the world is suffering from which disease outbreak. It also gives you a list of the latest missing people and any such information that threaten our lives.
See http://outbreaks.globalincidentmap.com/ for disease outbreaks.
See http://amberalerts.globalincidentmap.com/home.php for missing people.
See http://fires.globalincidentmap.com/ for forest fires.
Here is a great documentary on ‘How Animals Anticipate Disasters’: