Secrecy over SA earthquake swarm

 

Augrabies region has experienced a year-long earthquake swarm which may signal a major seismic event in SA

The Hermanus Magnetic Observatory  has been monitoring the earthquake swarm recorded in Augrabies region this past year. The facility forms part of the worldwide magnetic observatories network Intermagnet which monitor the Earth’s magnetic field. HMO is the regional warning centre for Africa.

  Hartnadey Dr Chris warns SA earthquake EastAfricanRiftSystem historyMilnerton200yearsagoSeismologists have been monitoring the Augrabies anomalies over concerns that these might be advance-warning signals for a major seismic event in SA.  Top earthquake expert Dr Chris Hartnady has been issuing public warnings since February last year that a major earthquake could be hitting SA because of the rapid spread of the East African Rift fault lines.

He warned in a scientific paper in Science in Africa last year : ‘Major earthquakes can lead to large-scale loss of life and property due to building collapse, fires and landslides on unstable slopes and catastrophic disruption of dam walls and water mains – and roads, railways and fuel pipelines.” link

It’s still very difficult to predict the exact moments when earthquakes will hit, however scientists have been able to build up an average estimate of the areas where earthquakes may occur soon –  due to science’s increased abilities to detect activities inside the earth’s constantly moving tectonic plates system. The problem for geologists in Africa is that there is no long-term recorded oral history of earthquakes and a very limited written record: Westerners only started recording these once they started moving into a very sparcely-populated region from the 15th century.

A veil of secrecy now seems to be drawn over the year-long earthquake swarm around the Augrabies region – which are reported in the SA news media but not by the US Geological Survey maps. Even bloggers from overseas are beginning to notice the secrecy, for instance blogger Selim_Karabiyik of a website which claims that the shallow earthquakes worldwide are caused by the approach of a mystery Planet X (also referred to as Nebaru) writes on January 28, 2011 at 10:54am: It is really difficult to find about what has been happening in Southern Africa. I spent hours to get hold of earthquakes happening there last night and I’ll keep trying…”

Augrabies EARTHQUAKE SWARM 2010_2010The area of Augrabies has since February 2010 and as recently as last week been experiencing an ‘earthquake swarm”. These are sequences of many earthquakes in a relatively short period of time. A swarm may last in the order of days, weeks, or months, but rarely more than two years.

  • They are differentiated from earthquakes succeeded by a series of aftershocks, by the observation that no single earthquake in the sequence is obviously the main shock.

As part of its national monitoring programme, the Council for Geoscience has been constantly monitoring the seismic activity in the Augrabies area. The first recorded earthquake of the present swarm occurred during February 2010 but it was only when the population felt an earthquake measuring 3.7 on the local magnitude scale on 26 July 2010, that people became aware of this seismic activity. Since then, at least five earthquakes exceeding magnitude 4 have occurred near Augrabies, the largest to date being magnitudes 4.2 and 4.9, events that occurred on 12 and 25 January, respectively.

The Augrabies area is situated on the boundary of the Kaapvaal Craton (Archean), the Kheis orogenic belt (1 800 Ma) and the Namaqua-Natal orogenic belt (1000 Ma).  This area is highly deformed and there are numerous faults, shear zones, folds and other lineaments, which could provide weak areas in the crust. It also lies on strike of the Hebron fault in Namibia, which is known to have been active during recent times.  Earthquake epicentres tend to lie parallel to the Orange river in that area, on both sides of the river, and the structural maps indicate a number of faults striking parallel to this trend all along the river. A possible explanation therefore is that the Orange River follows a weak zone in that area, caused by a relatively wide zone of faults, some of which are being activated by the current strain in the crust.

Rapid spread of East African Rift fault lines towards southern Africa

Dr Hartnady also warned on April 11 2010 in a report in the Daily Express  that “South African is almost certain to be hit by a major earthquake. it’s not a matter of if, but when’. Hartnady of the Umvoto Africa CSIR Satellite centre said the coastal harbour cities of Durban and Cape Town are the areas most likely to be hit by an earthquake because of the rapid spread of the East African Rift fault-lines.

The UK newspaper quoted Dr Hartnady as warning that the tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust are increasingly active on the East African rift’s fault lines – and this could pose an earthquake threat to South Africa. He said: “A major earthquake disaster in the region is inevitable because wide areas of southern Africa are affected by the slow, southward spread of the East African rift system.”

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station: close to 6.2 earthquake epicentre of 200 years ago…

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station Cape Town earthquake warning by expert April 11 2010
Picture: the Koeberg nuclear power station just north of greater Cape Town is located very close to the 6.2 earthquake epicentre which occurred there 200 years earlier.

While precious few long-term records exist of earthquakes in this region, an 6.3 earthquake did occur in Tulbagh north of Cape Town in 1969, killing twelve people in this small rural town and leaving 60% of the working-class residents homeless;

Current Milnerton race track site hit by earthquake in 1809…

Two-hundred years earlier in 1809, the practically unpopulated Jan Biesjes Kraal farm – now the site of the Milnerton race track north of Cape Town – also was hit by an earthquake. This region also is located within a twelve-km radius of the Koeberg nuclear power station  at Melkbosstrand, located at the Atlantic Ocean coast and well inside the greater Cape Town metropolitan area radius which is populated by more than 3-million people.

The UK newspaper quotes Dr Hartnady as warning that the tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust are increasingly active on the East African rift’s fault lines – and this could pose an earthquake threat to SA with increasing certainty. He was quoted as saying: “A major earthquake disaster in the region is inevitable because wide areas of southern Africa are affected by the slow, southward spread of the East African rift system. It is not a question of if, but when. The consequences would be so expensive in terms of mortality and economic cost that the risk of being ill-prepared is unacceptably high,” added Dr Hartnady, technical director of earth science consultants Umvoto Africa CSIR Satellite Applications Centre.

It’s still very difficult to predict the exact moments when earthquakes will hit, however scientists have been able to build up an average estimate of the areas where earthquakes may occur soon due to science’s increased abilities to detect activities inside the earth’s constantly moving tectonic plates system. The problem for geologists in Africa is that there is no long-term recorded oral history of earthquakes.

He warned: “Major earthquakes can lead to large-scale loss of life and property due to building collapse, fires and landslides on unstable slopes and catastrophic disruption of dam walls and water mains – and roads, railways and fuel pipelines.” The last major earthquake to hit Cape Town was in 1809, with the epicentre thought to be located at the then-Jan Biesjes Kraal farm,which later became the site of the racecourse near modern Milnerton and is located just a few kilometres away from the aging Koeberg Nuclear Power Station at Melkbosstrand – which is Africa’s only  nuclear electricity-generating facility, built during the apartheid years.

source:

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

12 Responses to Secrecy over SA earthquake swarm

  1. KOOS says:

    HI.THANKS FOR YOUR INTERESTING READ.
    WE AS CITIZENS IN CAPE TOWN SHOULD WAKE-UP AND START SMELLING THE ROSES.WE SHOULD PREPARE OURSELVES.BEFORE ITS TO LATE

  2. Michele says:

    thanks for this interesting information. A few years ago I was shown a book mapping the faults in South Africa. We live within 12 km’s of Koeberg and it is always a concernto us.

  3. SA in Cambridge says:

    Four nuclear power stations in Japan, in the region devastated by tsunami, are to be encased in concrete to try and limit the spread of radiation. It is probable that any people within a 30 km radius of each site will now die younger from cancer in the future.

    News coverage of this event is subdued, as the EU is trying to remove nuclear power through Green Parties.

    SA should be glad to have only one station.

    • South Africa has two such sites – both built by the French during apartheid: one for generating electricity at Koeberg north of Cape Town, with its millions of residents, and Pelindaba/Velindaba, which is right on the edge of Pretoria, in an area populated by more than 7-million people. The latter site produces radio-isotopes and other nuclear material. Then there’s also the Vaalputs waste-depository in the Northern Cape, which is located right on top of the Augrabies fault-line and where there have also been incidents with workers moving vats of waste without wearing any protective clothing, for instance.

  4. PuterMan says:

    I cannot believe you put a video by that You-Tube idiot right next to a link to details of a respected scientist.

    The fool in the video has nothing better to do with his time than assault us with his idiotic videos. He does not even realise about the default depths promulgated when depths are not well constrained.

    Otherwise, very interesting and something I shall look into further.

    • One expects intelligent people to work out for themselves which is the properly-informed scientific viewpoint and which is not. Obviously, you are definitely someone who thinks for himself. One people put forward such claims which cause such worldwide hysteria, they should always be closely examined with the existing scientific evidence.

  5. Caroline Balona says:

    Why the need for secrecy ? Does the Rift Valley Fault move westward to augrabies, or does it follow the lakes in Tanganika/Malawi and go off onto the east coast near these countries? Is there any reality in this being tied to the so-called arrival of Nibiru?

  6. Marinda says:

    Interesting article, why don’t we hear more about it?

  7. Hazel says:

    went onto this site today, because yesterday 14/05/2011 at 16h13 i felt a tremor in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, it was very scary. would really like to hear more info on what has happened….

  8. Started a survival Group”Cape Town Danger Survival Group”.

  9. Eben Roux says:

    I grew up in the North Western Cope, not far from the Augrabies and is well aware of what,s happening in that region. I would like to be informed about possible future activities.

  10. natasja says:

    You know I think it’s time that every person in South Africa should hear the truth and in the bible its sais people should be warned of great dangers and yes we don’t know when the earthquake will strike, but atleast people are being warned whether they will believe or not. Atleast they have been warned. So please make this public to the nation otherwise a lot of damaged will be done.

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