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Earthquake: Coincidence or a Corporate Oil Tragedy?

Andrew Limburg | December 31 2004

Now I don’t claim to be an expert on seismic activity, but there has been a series of events which led up to the 9.0 earthquake of the coast of Indonesia which can not be ignored. This all could be an enormous coincidence, but one must look at the information and choose for themselves whether there is anything to it.

On November 28th, one month ago, Reuters reported that during a 3 day span 169 whales and dolphins beached themselves in Tasmania, an island of the southern coast of mainland Australia and in New Zealand. The cause for these beachings is not known, but Bob Brown, a senator in the Australian parliament, said "sound bombing" or seismic tests of ocean floors to test for oil and gas had been carried out near the sites of the Tasmanian beachings recently.

According to Jim Cummings of the Acoustic Ecology Institute, Seismic surveys utilizing airguns have been taking place in mineral-rich areas of the world’s oceans since 1968. Among the areas that have experienced the most intense survey activity are the North Sea, the Beaufort Sea (off Alaska’s North Slope), and the Gulf of Mexico; areas around Australia and South America are also current hot-spots of activity.

The impulses created by the release of air from arrays of up to 24 airguns create low frequency sound waves powerful enough to penetrate up to 40km below the seafloor. The “source level" of these sound waves is generally over 200dB (and often 230dB or more), roughly comparable to a sound of at least 140-170dB in air.

According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, these 200dB – 230dB shots from the airguns are fired every 10 seconds or so, from 10 meters below the surface, 24 hours a day, for 2 week periods of time, weather permitting.

These types of tests are known to affect whales and dolphins, whose acute hearing and use of sonar is very sensitive.

On December 24th there was a magnitude 8.1 earthquake more than 500 miles southeast of Tasmania near New Zealand, with a subsequent aftershock 6.1 a little later in the morning that same day.

On December 26th, the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck at the intersection of the Australian tectonic plate and the Indian tectonic plate. This is the devastating tsunami tragedy that we have all heard about in the Indian Ocean. The death toll of this horrific event has reached 120,000 souls and continues to rise.

On December 27th, 20 whales beached themselves 110 miles west of Hobart on the southern island state of Tasmania.

What is interesting about this is that the same place where the whale beachings have been taking place over the last 30 days is the same general area where the 8.1 Australian earthquake took place, and this is the same area where they are doing these seismic tests. Then 2 days after the Australian tectonic plate shifted, the 9.0 earthquake shook the coast of Indonesia.

A great deal of interest and seismic testing has been taking place in this area, as the government of Australia has given great tax breaks to encourage the oil exploration.

Two Geologists that I spoke to felt that it was highly unlikely that these seismic tests would have had enough energy to induce the Australian quake. On the other hand there is strong evidence that suggests that oil exploration activities have induced earthquakes in the past.

Again, I don't claim to be an expert. I'm writing this story to bring attention to some interesting facts, so that those who are experts can investigate this fully.

We will be following up on this story as more information is gathered.

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