Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

Images of new island born after earthquake in Pakistan

September 28, 2013

A second earthquake (6.8 magnitude) rocked south-west Pakistan today, in a region where at least 400 people died in a 7.7 magnitude quake earlier this week. The earlier quake gave birth to a new island off the coast of Gwadar.

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The epicentre of Tuesday’s quake, which hit close to the location of the latest seismic shock. BBC

From NASA’s Earth Observatory:

On September 24, 2013, a major strike-slip earthquake rattled western Pakistan, killing at least 350 people and leaving more than 100,000 homeless. The 7.7 magnitude quake struck the Baluchistan province of northwestern Pakistan. Amidst the destruction, a new island was created offshore in the Paddi Zirr (West Bay) near Gwadar, Pakistan.

On September 26, 2013, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured the top image of that new island, which sits roughly one kilometer (0.6 miles) offshore. Likely a mud volcano, the island rose from the seafloor near Gwadar on September 24, shortly after the earthquake struck about 380 kilometers (230 miles) inland. The lower image, acquired by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite, shows the same area on April 17, 2013.

Earthquake Births New Island off Pakistan

acquired September 26, 2013 – Earthquake Births New Island off Pakistan

Coast of Gwadar acquired April 17, 2013

The aerial photograph below from the National Institute of Oceanography provides a close-up of the landform, estimated to stretch 75 to 90 meters (250 to 300 feet) across and standing 15 to 20 meters (60 to 70 feet) above the water line. The surface is a mixture of mud, fine sand, and solid rock.

Aerial view of new island acquired September 26, 2013

“The island is really just a big pile of mud from the seafloor that got pushed up,” said Bill Barnhart, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey who studies earthquakes in Pakistan and Iran. “This area of the world seems to see so many of these features because the geology is correct for their formation. You need a shallow, buried layer of pressurized gas—methane, carbon dioxide, or something else—and fluids. When that layer becomes disturbed by seismic waves (like an earthquake), the gases and fluids become buoyant and rush to the surface, bringing the rock and mud with them.”

Inam asserted that the underground pressure in this case came from expanding natural gas. “The main driving force for the emergence of islands in this part of the world is highly pressurized methane gas, or gas hydrate. On the new island, there is a continuous escape of the highly flammable methane gas through a number of vents.”

Several of these islands have appeared off the 700-kilometer-long Makran coast in the past century noted Eric Fielding, a tectonics scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He explained that the Makran coast is where the Arabian tectonic plate is pushed northward and downward to go underneath the Eurasian continental plate. The thick layer of mud and rock on the Arabian Plate is scraped off and has formed the land in southwestern Pakistan, southeastern Iran, and the shallow underwater area offshore.

“The Makran coast is not very populated and any such event may easily go unnoticed, so satellite images are extremely important,” Inam said. “Mud volcanoes and islands are a natural hazard and threat to navigation.”

The life of this island is likely to be short. That underground pocket of gas will cool, compress, or escape over time, allowing the crust to collapse and settle back down. Waves, storms, and tidal action from the Arabian Sea will also wash away the loose sand, soft clay, and mud. Barnhart says such islands usually last a few months to a year before sinking back below the water line.

By the grace of Allah – a water-powered car!

August 8, 2012

Of course it’s August and it’s silly season but the bottom is reached when a Pakistani Minister of Religious Affairs and cabinet ministers endorse a water-powered car!!

New York Times:

…..  “By the grace of Allah, I have managed to make a formula that converts less voltage into more energy,” the professed inventor, Agha Waqar Ahmad, said in a telephone interview. “This invention will solve our country’s energy crisis and provide jobs to hundreds of thousands of people.” …… 

Federal ministers lauded Mr. Ahmad and his vehicle, sometimes at cabinet meetings. The stand-in minister for religious affairs, Khursheed Shah, appeared on television with him and took a ride in his small Suzuki rental, which was hooked up to a contraption that Mr. Ahmad described as a “water kit.” Respected talk show hosts suggested he should get state financing and protection. …..

The country’s most famous scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan — revered inside Pakistan as the father of the country’s nuclear weapons program and reviled elsewhere as a notorious figure in the international nuclear black market — gave it his imprimatur, too. “I have investigated the matter, and there is no fraud involved,” he told Hamid Mir, a popular television journalist, during a recent broadcast that sealed Mr. Ahmad’s celebrity.

The quest to harness chemical energy from water is a holy grail of science, offering the tantalizing promise of a world free from dependence on oil. Groups in other countries, including Japan, the United States and Sri Lanka, have previously made similar claims. They have been largely ignored. Not so with Mr. Ahmad, even if he is an unlikely scientific prodigy. Forty years old and a father of five, he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1990 from a small technical college in Khairpur, in southern Sindh Province, he said in the interview. For most of his career he worked in a local police department. He is currently unemployed.

Most of the Pakistani media went ape. But Dawn at least kept its cool and represented the voice of sanity:

TALK-SHOW hosts feted it. Politicians rode in it. Cabinet ministers discussed it. Well-known scientists backed it. Those of a particularly conspiratorial bent called for him to be provided security against a threatened oil industry. While a lone voice calling foul was barely given a chance to be heard, Agha Waqar Ahmad and his ‘water car’ were being hailed as the invention that would free the world from the tyranny of fossil-fuel dependence and transform Pakistan’s image around the globe. As was bound to happen eventually, his scientifically impossible claim, which defies the basic laws of physics, is now being exposed as gobsmacked scientists begin to write and speak about it. A technical examination of the water kit, planned at the highest levels of government, has been delayed indefinitely. Perhaps the best proof has come from the man’s own bumbling attempts to defend his device.

What won’t change as quickly are the unfortunate truths this episode has exposed about Pakistani society. For one, it highlighted again how easily the media here buys into seemingly exciting, but always improbable, news stories without any background research or inquiries. Also left looking more ridiculous than Mr Ahmad are the politicians, ministers and especially scientists who jumped on the bandwagon and hailed the car as a giant leap for Pakistan, showcasing in the process the national love of shortcuts and easy glory and the lack of quality education that makes even our leading public figures susceptible to such bogus claims. Meanwhile, no real work, scientific, managerial, technical or otherwise, is being done to actually address the energy crisis. And the fact that at the same time the breakthrough science of an actual national hero — the Nobel-prize-winning Dr Abdus Salam — is being erased from our official history is a telling comment on Pakistan’s commitment to knowledge.

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