[Marxism] Tsunami questions
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 30 10:00:47 MST 2004
Counterpunch, December 30, 2004
Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Nuclear Testing
By LILA RAJIVA
In the aftermath of a cataclysm like the Asian tsunami, speculation can run
wild. Reserving judgment until we really know what happened, here is a list
of salient questions and answers that I've compiled from news reports,
government and other reliable sources.
Q: What set off the gigantic tsunamis that devastated coastal south-east Asia?
A: An undersea earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale with its
epicenter about 160 km from the northern portion of the island of Sumatra
in Indonesia on Sunday, December 26.
Q: How soon after the quake did the tsunami hit?
A: The earthquake hit Indonesia at 6:58 a.m; the tsunami arrived as much as
2 1/2 hours later, without warning, suggesting that it might not have been
caused directly by the quake but by some other change triggered by the quake.
Q: How large was it?
A: It was the largest since the 9.2 quake in Prince William Sound in Alaska
in 1964 and the 4th largest in the century. The quake moved the entire
island of Sumatra about 100 feet toward the southwest and even disturbed
the Earth's rotation. It was the first tsunami in the Indian Ocean since
1883. Waves of around 30-40 ft in height and even greater were widely reported.
Q: How soon did people know about the tsunami?
A: Within 15 minutes of the earthquake, scientists running the existing
tsunami warning system for the Pacific sent an alert from their Honolulu
hub to 26 participating countries, including Thailand and Indonesia, that
destructive waves might be generated by the Sumatra tremors.
Q: Did anyone warn Indonesia or any other country?
A: "We put out a bulletin within 20 minutes, technically as fast as we
could do it," says Jeff LaDouce of the NOOA. LaDouce says e-mails were
dispatched to Indonesian officials, but he doesn't know what happened to
the information. Phone calls were hurriedly made to countries in the Indian
Ocean danger zone, Dr. Laura S. L. Kong, a Commerce Department seismologist
and director of the International Tsunami Information Center said, but not
with the speed that comes from pre-established emergency planning.
Reportedly, NOOA didn't know whom to contact.
Q: What responsibility do Asian governments have in the lack of preparedness?
A: At a meeting in June of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission,
a United Nations body, experts concluded that the "Indian Ocean has a
significant threat from both local and distant tsunamis" and should have a
warning network but India, Thailand, Malaysia and other countries in the
region have "never shown the initiative to do anything," said Dr. Tad
Murty, an expert on the region's tsunamis who is affiliated with the
University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. "There's no reason for a single
individual to get killed in a tsunami," he noted, "The waves are totally
predictable. We have travel-time charts covering all of the Indian Ocean.
From where this earthquake happened to hit, the travel time for waves to
hit the tip of India was four hours. That's enough time for a warning. In
Thailand, officials reportedly played down warnings afraid that if there
was a false alarm, tourism might be seriously damages as had happened once
Q: Have tidal waves figured in weapons research?
A: Yes. Secret wartime experiments were conducted off the New Zealand coast
to create a bomb that would trigger tidal waves, according to government
files declassified in Auckland. But the tsunami bomb was never fully tested
and the war ended before the project was completed. Its mastermind was
Thomas Leech, an Australian professor who was the dean of engineering at
Auckland University from 1940 to 1950. He set off a series of underwater
explosions that caused mini tidal waves at Whangaparaoa, north of Auckland,
in 1944 and 1945. Details of the research, known as Project Seal, are
contained in 53- year-old documents released by the New Zealand Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Q: Is it possible for a nuclear explosion to have triggered the Macquarie
quake in some way and indirectly caused the changes that led to the Sumatra
quake and the Asian tsunami?
A: It is possible that a very large explosion might have triggered the
first quake directly in some way or that repeated prior testing could have
induced changes that led to the quake indirectly, but research on the
fall-out of nuclear testing is so highly classified that little is known of
the possible impact. The U.S. has not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty, leaving the door open to future U.S. testing despite an extended
moratorium. There has already been a strong move toward resumption of
testing since 2002. Now earth-penetrating nukes (bunker busters) and
mini-nukes might provide the pretext.
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