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"Despite appreciable progress, the problem of earthquake A-X prognostication remains unresolved"* - this conclusion is drawn by an expert in this field Mikhail Savin, Dr. Sc. (Phys. & Math.) in an article published in the DV Ucheny (Far Eastern Scientist) newspaper of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He points out that natural calamities of this kind are still inflicting staggering material damage on many regions of our planet, above all countries of the Pacific Seismic Belt. And the annual death toll reaches tens and hundreds of thousands. One latest example was a major earthquake near the Indonesian island of Sumatra which produced devastating tsunami waves which took the lives of hundreds of thousands of local residents and reduced to rubble many local towns and resorts. And the local population remains in constant stress because no one can tell them when the next fatal blow will strike.
A hundred years ago some of the RAS scientists were saying: "Seismology, the youngest branch of human knowledge, has been making rapid strides forward in recent time... Prognostication of earthquakes is now on the agenda." Statements of this kind can be heard to this day even despite the obvious lack of any tangible progress. Some of the more far-sighted experts, like Acad. Vladimir Strakhov, point out that prognostication means building a stable whole from a number of unstable components. In his view a comprehensive prognostication of earthquakes at the present time is impossible. An even more categorical view belongs to RAS Corresponding Member, Alexei Nikolaev: "One can see even now that the problem of earthquake prognostication will never be fully resolved in a determined way-nature always has several scenarios in store and any of them can be chosen."
But many geophysicists do not give up hopes. They point out that during earthquakes the earth crust cracks up, like china tableware. Stresses within it are accumulated until a rupture is formed at the depth of several kilometers. During short-time movements of masses of rock of many kilometers huge amounts of energy are generated in the earth crust which spread out in the form of seismic waves producing powerful quakes. And while scientists are still having problems with predictions of such catastrophic strikes, they have been trying a different, and quite daring approach, of trying to anticipate the process of a quake maturation so as to prevent plutonic stress from reaching their critical (fatal) level. That means causing a preliminary discharge. But how this can be done? By
* See: A. Nikonov, "European Russia: Seismic Threat from the South", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2002; G. Sobolev, "Earthquake: From Laboratory to the Source", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2003. - Ed.
Inner structure of the Earth.
digging a well? But according to our domestic experience, drilling to depths of more than 12 km is a difficult job. And then there is the question of where to drill?
The solution came unexpectedly. When specialists were conducting deep electromagnetic soundings on the Pamir with the help of a powerful MHD-generator they suddenly observed an increase of the weak and moderate seismicity. And it turned out that electric pulses can eliminate rock tension. And the most interesting discovery was that within the radius of several tens of kilometers there were no more powerful and catastrophic earthquakes! In a word, prospects have been discovered of "healing" by strong electric pulses seismically active areas with the radius of up to 100 km and even more.
Such "vaccination" from global cataclysms is, of course, not available free of charge. But the expenses involved will be assessed later, and at the present stage the problems are in which concrete region the Earth should be "pricked", with what kind of a "syringe" and how much electricity should be "pumped" into the bowels of the planet.
Incidentally, there is a "Program of development of technology of prevention of devastating earthquakes in the Far East with the help of MHD-generators". It was approved by Acad. Yevgeny Wikhov. But the planned large-scale experiment requires thorough preparations. This includes detailed and comprehensive studies of the future site, including seismic, geoelectric, geothermal and other characteristics of the adjacent territories. But still and all, with the support of the government of the Khabarovsk Territory a great deal of work was done in 2004 for the generalization of the accumulated experimental material. The possibility of joint actions with the scientists of Japan within the framework of this project was discussed at a meeting with the Japanese Consul T Osanai in Khabarovsk.
To sum it up, the task of "taming" the underground elements is one of the key problems before the world science of the 21st century. Its solution calls for extraordinary efforts with the use of big material and human resources.
DV Ucheny (Far Eastern Scientist), 2005
Prepared by Yaroslav SIBIRTSEV
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