SaveTheHills(STH) is a group of concerned citizens who are raising awareness about landslides in Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya.
Many landslides are the direct or indirect result of human interference and preventable if sufficient care is taken.
As such, unless we begin a comprehensive and sustained program towards landslide management, prevention and mitigation, the consequences of ignoring years of human callousness will, in the future be devastating.
Having almost, well, a jihadi belief in the predictions of meteorological science, it is scary to think their forecasts could also go wrong.
So it is good the storm weakened (and became a low pressure instead of blossoming into a full blown cyclone as predicted) but what if the forecast had gone awry and the depression had become a Very Severe Cyclone in a lesser time than forecast?
‘The depression over central Bay of Bengal moved
north-northwestwards during the past 6h, intensified into a deep depression and lay centred at 0830 IST on 06Nov2014
over central Bay of Bengal , 580km southeast of Vishakhapatnam.
It would move northwestwards and intensify further into a Cyclonic storm during next 24h.
It would then move west northwest towards Andhra Pradesh coast.
It would weaken gradually into a depression while reaching the coast on
Scientists searching for a way to predict earthquakes have uncovered the
most promising lead yet, after uncovering tell-tale chemical spikes in
groundwater up to six months before tremors struck.
Major earthquakes can kill hundreds of thousands of people, as in Haiti in
2010, but they are the only natural disaster that cannot currently be forecast.
Some experts think a useful prediction of time, place and magnitude may be an
impossible dream. Previously, scientists have examined radon gas leaks, heat
maps and even unusual animal behaviour as possible earthquake indicators, without
But now geologists taking weekly measurements of groundwater chemistry in
northern Iceland over five years have discovered big shifts four to six months
before two separate earthquakes in 2012 and 2013. The quakes were both
significant in size – over magnitude five – and 47 miles from the sampling
“This does not mean we can predict earthquakes yet, but at the least we have
shown something happens before earthquakes,” said Prof Alasdair Skelton, at
Stockholm University, Sweden, who led the research published in Nature
Geoscience. “That is tantalizing, as it means something is happening to the
rocks before the earthquakes. We are highlighting groundwater chemistry as a
promising target for future earthquake prediction studies.”
The fact the chemical spikes were identified before two different
earthquakes is significant, said Skelton, because it indicates they are not a
mere coincidence. He said the chances of that were a hundred-thousand to one.
The previous best evidence for groundwater changes was an analysis of Japanese
spring water bottled before and after the huge 1995 Kobe
earthquake, which killed 6,400 people. The Kobe water also revealed a
chemical spike, but there was too little data to make a link to the tremor
statistically convincing. The chemical changes are thought to occur as stress
builds on the rocks before the earthquakes and creates small fractures which
connect up different acquifers allowing them to mix.
Skelton said the next steps are to understand better exactly how the
chemical spikes occur and then to see if these can be observed in other parts
of the world. The rock in Iceland is of only one type, basalt, and it may be
that in places where there is a mix of rock types the chemical changes will be
even more marked, he said.
The new work was praised by other geologists. “The potential for predicting
earthquakes has great importance, and great claims require strong evidence,”
writes Steven Ingebritsen, at the US Geological Survey and Michael Manga, at
University of California, Berkeley, in a commentary in Nature Geoscience. “The
new observations are sufficiently compelling to prompt further investigation.”
Professor Ian Main, at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, said caution
was needed and the influence of other possible factors, such as shifting magma
below the ground, needed to be assessed. “There is a long way to go before
observations such as these could be turned into operational tools for
forecasting earthquake probabilities,” he said. “Most geophysical and
geochemical signals fluctuate all the time, so it is virtually inevitable that
some areas will have signals coincident with earthquakes.” The proof will be in
making a successful future prediction, he said: “[Otherwise], this process is a
bit like going into the bookies after a race and claiming you would have bet on
the winning horse.”
Main added: “Earthquake prediction, sufficiently reliable and accurate to
justify an evacuation, has long been the ‘holy grail’ of seismology and it is
likely to be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.” There are strong
theoretical reasons why earthquakes may be inherently unpredictable, because
large tremors can set off by relatively tiny – and therefore hard to
distinguish – stresses in the rocks. But these reasons do not rule out the
possibility that some reliable precursor signals may be found.
“In terms of what the public would understand by an earthquake prediction,
the jury is still out,” Main said.
As can be seen from the above map, the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya is running 80% deficient in rainfall, the data for 3 stations is as follows :-
a. Kalimpong - 20mm (on 15Oct - a spillover from Cyclone 'HudHud'.)
b. Mangan (N Sikkim ) - 27mm
c. Darjeeling - 33mm
Monthly rainfall normal for the month of Oct in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya as per IMetD is 154.2mm (see here).
No rain, means no landslides but that also means less potable water and more forest fires during the many dry months ahead.