Ever increasing clusters of Killer Earthquakes shake Scientists*
October 11, 2009 - 5:19PM
Ever increasing clusters of large earthquakes which has shaken
Asia-Pacific communities and likely left thousands dead has also jolted
some scientists, who are starting to question conventional thought.
Experts who dismissed notions that far-away quakes could be linked are
beginning to think again after huge tremors rocked Samoa and Indonesia
on the same day, followed by another major convulsion in Vanuatu.
Some 184 people died in the terrifying tsunami which smashed Samoa,
American Samoa and Tonga on September 30, while thousands are feared
dead after parts of Indonesia's Padang city were reduced to rubble just
On Thursday, thousands of panicked people fled the coast as a rapid
succession of large quakes off Vanuatu set off a tsunami warning for
much of the South Pacific.
The "remarkable" sequence has prompted veteran earthquake-watcher Gary
Gibson to tear up his theory it was all down to chance and search for a
"I can no longer keep using the response it's all a big coincidence, can
I?" Gibson, senior seismologist at Environmental Systems and Services
consulting group, told AFP.
"But what would the (link) mechanism be? Nobody has come up with a good
University of Queensland's Huilin Xing also challenged accepted science
by proposing a possible link between the Samoan and Indonesian
earthquakes -- 6,000 miles (9,660 kilometres) apart.
Xing said the fast-moving Australian tectonic plate may have set off one
quake, and then the other.
"From the observations, there were similar correlations of the quakes in
the different places," Xing said.
"For two great earthquakes to occur within hours in such a way, it is
Thursday's 7.6, 7.8 and 7.3 Vanuatu earthquakes also came just minutes
after another large tremor shook the Philippines.
"It's remarkable. I've been working on this for 30 years and never seen
it before," said Gibson.
"Many times it's chance but when you get this many large earthquakes on
the Australian plate boundary it's stretching the concept of just
coincidence. But nobody I know has published a link that will stand up
in all cases.
"There's no mechanism to describe why it's happening that anybody's
thought of. I personally think there may well be something else and I'm
continuing to look for it."
Kevin McCue, president of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society,
rejected ideas of any connection between the Pacific and Indonesian
quakes, but said the tremors in Samoa and Vanuatu had a historical
McCue said in 1917 a major earthquake rocked Samoa, followed three years
later by another of similar size off Vanuatu, with both going off close
to the recent quakes' epicentres.
But he said the high activity in different areas was simply part of the
random nature of earthquakes.
"It's just the nature of the beast -- you have a cluster of events then
you wait months without one," he said.
"(But) I don't deny that I don't know something. It is possible there's
something more. We don't know what's happening down there, really."