By Dr. TARA SINGH
When we received a note on Tuesday August 21, 2018 from Dr Satish Prakash who is on a Vedic missionary tour to Suriname, about the effects of an earthquake there, we began to wonder whether that tremor was just confined to Suriname. At that point, we weren’t aware that the epicenter of the earthquake was located in Venezuela and that tremors also occurred in Antigua, Columbia and Trinidad and Tobago. As we later learnt that Guyana was also struck with the tremor, our reaction was: “we hope that there was no casualty.” We also pondered: “where was the epicenter as well as what caused that eruption?”
Of course, our quest for an answer led us to speculate but at the philosophical, and not at the scientific level. We are not qualified in the latter discipline. As news began to flow out of Guyana indicating that the earthquake tremor was felt in several areas of the country, but most heavily in the North West region (Barima.Waini), there has been no report of casualty. The epicenter of earthquake was in Sucre, Venezuela, 29 miles from Carupano.
The first tremor unleashed by the 7.3 magnitude earthquake was experienced in Guyana on Tuesday afternoon (August 21, 2018). Another tremor (originating from a 5.9 magnitude earthquake) occurred the following Wednesday morning in Guyana. In Trinidad & Tobago, there were 7 aftershocks.
The effects (at a magnitude of 6.8) of the earthquake was felt the strongest in Trinidad & Tobago. According to the Trinidad Express Newspaper, there was some structural damage to buildings, cars were flattened by falling concrete, the shelves of supermarkets shattered, electricity supply and telecommunication services were disrupted in some areas. No life was reported as being lost.
However, the Venezuelan earthquake was not the only one that occurred around that time. On Monday August 20, 2018 Fiji was struck with 5 earthquakes at 4.5 magnitude; on Sunday, August 19, 2018, the Pacific Ocean (close to Fiji and Tonga) was hit with a 8.2 magnitude earthquake; and those were followed on Tuesday August 21, 2018, by the 7.3 magnitude Venezuelan earthquake. There were reported cases of damages but not substantial, as the source of the earthquake was very deep. The deeper the origin of the earthquake the less the destruction.
We began to ask ourselves, why does earthquake happen? We figured that nature has a way of re-calibrating the environment after natural (like volcanoes) and man-made disasters.
The massive extraction of oil and other mineral operations leaves a temporary void in the earth’s belly which has to be replaced to ensure the ordered interplay of natural forces. This universe, including the earth, is intelligently ordered. Any tampering of this order will lead to serious outcomes, like earthquakes. This must happen because nature has to recalibrate the configuration of the earth to ensure harmony of its constituent parts after that order has been disrupted.
The vacuum left by extraction of crude oil, for example, has to be filled, and this happens when the weakened walls of the earth around the wells begin to cave in and then collapse to fill the void. .In this process of recalibration, some level of destruction will occur. The deadliest earthquake (Shaanxi, China), for example, occurred in 1556 when over 820,000 persons perished. It was precipitated by the movement and clash of tectonic plates (huge chunks of the earth’s crust). Other primary effects of earthquakes are ground shaking, ground rupture, landslides, tsunamis, and liquefaction, and the secondary effects include fires.
Our speculation cannot be ruled out. We notice on August 24, 2018 that a report in the Chicago Tribune has indicated that a new study has shown a link between earthquakes and oil drilling. The 1933 Long Beach earthquake, it reports, may have been caused by deep drilling in the Huntington oil field. This study adds to others from Ohio and Oaklahoma States that link fracking (creating fractures in rocks/formations by injecting fluids to force these to open further) and oil extraction to increased earthquake activity.
Novelist Khalil Ali suggests that the cause of earthquakes is the constant shift and clash of tectonic plates. It seems that most of the major earthquakes are the result of clashes of the tectonic plates. For this reason, there are growing fears that California could be hit with a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which could lead to a tsunami. California is within an area called the “Ring of Fire” which is a “string of 452 volcanoes and the sites of high seismic activity that encircle the Pacific Ocean,” and it’s there where the earth’s huge tectonic plates meet.
One should note that the earth’s crust (the outer layer of the planet) is made up of several pieces, called plates. “An earthquake is caused by a sudden slip on a fault. The tectonic plates are always slowly moving, but they get stuck at their edges due to friction. When the stress on the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake that releases energy in waves that travel through the earth’s crust and cause the shaking that we feel.” In other words, when two blocks of rock or two plates are rubbing against each other, they stick a little but when the rocks break, the earthquake occurs.
Earthquakes tend to occur on the earth’s fault line which is a fracture along which the crust has moved. The diagram shows the fault line. It is said that eearthquakes occur all the time all over the world, both along plate edges and along faults. Most earthquakes occur along the edge of the oceanic and continental plates. We ask: “is the fault line static or dynamic? Could it expand or change course because of massive shifts is stress?”
A logical question follows: “What are the underlying causes of these shifts?” Would it be reasonable to say that it’s the collapse of the roof and walls of wells following the extraction of countless tons of matter (oil and other minerals)? Isn’t this a way in which nature restores order to the earth? We draw an analogy from “deforestation” to get a better understanding of this massive shift of stress in the earth’s configuration.
The indiscriminate logging in the Amazon region has led to dramatic changes in weather patterns in that region, and it has also altered the physical landscape. It is this disruption in the harmony between man and the environment that leads to such disasters as floods, landslides, erratic rainfall, rising sea levels, etc. If, at the surface of the earth nature reconfigures the constituent parts following a natural disaster or the tampering of the physical environment, why wouldn’t that also happen in the bowel of the earth when there is a massive shift of stress? Some people say that water could fill the vacuum following massive extraction of crude oil. But we rather doubt that since the chemical structure of water (H2O) and crude oil (hydrocarbons + other chemicals) are different. This incompatibility will not allow for harmony.
Vijay Mahabir offers a scriptural explanation on the need for harmony in the planet. He says that the indispensable need for harmony in the world has been recognized eons ago by sages. Vijay states: “Our ancient manuscript always refers to the planetary system and the harmony that exist among them. Modern day man, through calibrative instrumentation can measure the harmony of the forces (gravitational, ionic, magnetism also electricity).” Hindus also perform rituals hoping that this practice will help to maintain the harmonic frequencies.
Is the Guyana Civil Defense Commission prepared for an earthquake disaster? Or is there a belief that Guyana is insulated from earthquakes? With the drilling of oil and having been surrounded by Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago that are vulnerable to earthquakes, it is possible that the Guyana could be drawn into the earthquake fault line!
The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the THE WEST INDIAN.