independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Spanish earthquake that killed nine people was 'man-made'

A major earthquake in Spain that killed nine people was triggered by the groundwater extraction, research suggests.

The magnitude 5.1 tremor struck the historic town of Lorca in south-east Spain in May last year.

In addition to the lives lost, buildings were reduced to rubble, cars flattened and more than a hundred people injured.

Now scientists say they have evidence that the disaster was man-made -- the result of water being sucked out of the ground to feed domestic supplies.

Loss of the water caused stress changes in the earth's crust along a major faultline, it is believed. The disturbance was enough to trigger a rupture in the rock, leading to the earthquake.

Scientists led by Dr Pablo Gonzalez, from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, used satellite data to map the ground deformation caused by the Lorca earthquake. They then carried out computer simulations of the fault slip.

The researchers wrote: "We conclude that the presented data and modelling results are consistent with a groundwater crustal unloading process, providing a reasonable explanation for the observed fault slip pattern."

The findings are published in the journal 'Nature Geoscience'.

Irish Independent

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