Over the past day or so, several people have asked me about the area that was hit. They asked if it was close to Xi'an and if Qian's family is OK. Qinghai is not at all close to Xi'an and Qian's family is fine.
I just did a quick search for some information about Yushu and Xining and found this video. It is pretty well done. (The embed doesn't seem to be working. You can view it here.)
Another topic we discussed at work was the amount of large-scale earthquakes that we've seen already in 2010. Is this all bad luck? What's going on with all of these quakes?
MSNBC addressed this in an article today:
As the numbers of buried or dead continue to climb from today's 6.9-magnitude earthquake in China, an event so close on the heels of the devastating Chile and Haiti earthquakes, you might wonder if Earth is shaking more lately. Perhaps, scientists say, but not unusually so.Much of China is vulnerable to active fault lines and these kinds of quakes, as the article says, aren't surprising. In fact, the deadliest earthquake in the history of man took place in 1556AD near Xi'an in Shaanxi Province. The quake killed more than 800,000 people.
Seismic activity may be higher in recent years than the long-term average, but it's still not out of the normal range, the experts contend.
"Relative to the 20-year period from the mid-1970's to the mid 1990's, the Earth has been more active over the past 15 or so years," said Stephen S. Gao, a geophysicist at Missouri University of Science & Technology. "We still do not know the reason for this yet. Could simply be the natural temporal variation of the stress field in the Earth's lithosphere." (The lithosphere is the outer solid part of the Earth.)...
"What happens is when a lot of people get killed there's a lot of reporting of it, and if an equally big event occurs somewhere out in the middle of nowhere it doesn’t attract the attention," said G. Randy Keller, professor of geophysics at the University of Oklahoma.
If you look at it globally the occurrence of earthquakes is confined to zones we already know have earthquakes but it's a largely random process and so sometimes it's a little quieter than normal and sometimes it's a little more active than normal. But it doesn't mean anything, because on a global basis these things aren't connected," Keller said.
Read the Whole Article
Chinese people certainly aren't "used to" earthquakes though. I remember the weeks and months after the Sichuan earthquake being a very tense time. People slept outside in tents, there were constant rumors of bigger quakes "working their way up from Sichuan Province towards Xi'an," and a general level of irrationality that I felt rivaled the weeks that followed 9/11/01 in the United States.
Let's hope that China as a whole handles this tragedy well and, more importantly, those who need help right now can get it.