November 26, 2007

Epicenter of Earthquake Was Delhi University: US Geological Survey

According to USGS, the epicentre of Delhi earthquake was just south of Delhi University near GT road, not Delhi-Haryana border as media reports have said. (See UPDATE 26-Nov, 4.15PM)

Delhi experienced what's being called a "moderate" earthquake this morning. It recorded 4.6 on Richter scale. I've felt earthquakes in the past and this was by far the strongest because its epicenter was right in Delhi.

However, there seems to be some confusion over where exactly lies the epicentre in or around Delhi. Media reports mention Delhi-Haryana border but the Delhi Haryana border is not a single location, it stretches for several kilometers. However, the latitude and longitude figures released by India's meteorological department does not match this.

Epicenter According to the Met Department

According to Indiainfo and ZeeNews,
The epicenter of the tremor was at the Delhi-Haryana border at 28.6 N latitude and 77.9 E longitude. Precisely it was centered around 10 kms from Bahadurgarh in Haryana.
This does not make any sense because those figures are for a location in U.P nowhere close to Delhi or Haryana. Enter 28.6°N, 77.9°E in Google Maps and you get this.

(Scale: 20km)

As you can see, the epicenter according to the met department is not consistent with the statement that it's on Delhi-Haryana border. It's actually about 100km East of the point where Bahadurgarh is. (see UPDATE below)

Epicenter According to U.S. Geological Survey

The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC), part of U.S Geological Survey maintains a database of earthquakes around the world. According to their data, the epicenter location was actually right in the middle of North Delhi just south of Delhi University.

Enter 28.677°N, 77.204°E in Google Maps and you get this.

(Scale: 2km)

(Scale: 500m)

The figures released by USGS have a location uncertainty of +/- 18km but that still doesn't put it anywhere close to the figures provided by the met department.

I will update this post when I have more info but if you know a more reliable source of the epicenter location, please leave a comment.

UPDATE 4.15PM: Correct Met Dept Location Now Confirmed

It seems the media reports picked up wrong Longitude figure released by the Met department. Met Department's list of earthquakes in November available on its website (scroll down to 25) puts the Longitude at 77.0E instead of 77.9E as reported in news reports mentioned above.

This puts their stated location at Delhi-Haryana border near Najafgarh or about 10km from Bahadurgarh. View location on Google Maps.

(Scale: 10km)

The Amateur Seismic Centre (ASC), an independent centre based in Pune, continues to go with the USGS data source and puts the epicenter at Malka Ganj-Kamla Nagar in Delhi University area, as mentioned above.

Note that both USGS and Met department locations are from their preliminary reports.

UPDATE 8.00PM: I wrote to ASC's Stacey Martin to find out which data is more credible. Stacey kindly wrote back that eventually India Meteorological Department (IMD) figures will be more accurate since its monitoring station is in Delhi itself while USGS/NEIC's closest monitoring station is in Kabul. However, as of right now, the latter has provided figures up to three decimal places so at the moment ASC is going with NEIC's epicenter in North Delhi.

Since this is only preliminary data, it's likely to be corrected and the final IMD location will only be available in the public domain in 18-months due to CTBT constraints.

Past Earthquakes in Delhi Region

Here is some historical information on earthquakes in Delhi, taken from ASC report of today's quake.
This is one of the strongest earthquakes in the Delhi region since 2001 and the biggest since 1960. Prior to this latest earthquake, the strongest local earthquakes to have originated within the Delhi metropolitan area since the 1960 Gurgaon earthquake was a Mb=4.3 earthquake in the Dwarka-Najafgarh area on 28 April 2001 that caused minor damage & widespread panic. The strongest known earthquakes in the Delhi region include the M6.0 Khurja-Bulandshahr earthquake on 10 October 1956, the M6.0 Gurgaon earthquake on 27 August 1960 and the Mb=5.6 Moradabad earthquake on 15 August 1966. Historically, the 15 July 1720 earthquake in the Delhi region caused the greatest damage in the city causing many deaths and widespread damage including knocking down large parts of the Shaharepanah (city wall) in Old Delhi from Kabuli Gate to Lal Darwaza and the battlements of the Fatehpuri Masjid.

UPDATE 30-Sep-14 - Useful resources: Sharon Thornton, Research Coordinator at The International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) wrote in to suggest a resource she helped create covering: earthquake data for years 2005 - 2014, most devastating earthquakes 2005 - 2013, earthquake glossary. The resource can be found here: Earthquakes Data Magnitude 5.0 and Over 2005 - 2014. She also suggests two more useful resources: Seismic Monitor and Quakes - Live Earthquakes Map.

November 25, 2007

Ron Paul On Climate Change

How can a presidential candidate so right about almost every other issue be so mistaken about climate change?

I've just spent the last three hours learning about Ron Paul, a U.S presidential candidate I knew nothing about earlier and one who has recently experienced an unusually strong upsurge of support surprising many. TIME is calling it "The Ron Paul Revolution." CNN went nuts when Ron's online campaign collected a record sum in a day. The Washington Post just did a story trying to make sense of the revolution.

People are excited for good reason. Watch him speak and it wouldn't take you long to say to yourself: "Wow, I love this guy!" His speeches call for an end to "the U.S. empire" - words you'd expect from an activist, not a presidential hopeful. He also frequently mentions the "military industrial complex" - when was the last time you heard a presidential candidate admit its existence since Eisenhower coined the term. He talks of abolishing the IRS and the federal reserve, getting troops back from Iraq immediately, following a dramatically modest foreign policy than any past presidents, he's for freedom of the internet, in favor of same sex marriages and says the biggest threat to our privacy is the government. Ron Paul wants to drastically limit the government's ability to play big brother.

In fact, all his suggested policy measures are radical. And this is the most striking thing about him. As the TIME story notes, Ron is the most anti-establishment of all candidates. He has the courage to admit big policy mistakes of the past and the vision of a radically different future based on a few simple principles he's been known to hold for decades. You can't get a better candidate than this. Or so I thought.

Until I Googled his position on climate change and found that he thinks this issue is overblown. His website doesn't even mention the term and in this clip from a visit to Google in July this year, Ron says "there are two sides of the (global warming) argument." In another video from August when asked whether increasing carbon dioxide in atmosphere is an important issue, he answers that it's debatable.

There are good people who are in politics, in both parties, who hold this [issue] at arm's length because if they acknowledge it and recognize it then the moral imperative to make big changes is inescapable.
- Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth

It's incredible for someone to say this in 2007. Although none of the presidential candidates have been known to completely grasp the severity of climate change problem, yet for a candidate to say that it is an overblown issue is frankly quite outrageous. To hear these statements after IPCC fourth assessment, after Stern report and dozens of independent scientific institutions have raised alarm over climate change, is...well, I've run out of adjectives. I don't know what to call it.

Needless to say, there is no debate, no other side. Global warming and other effects of climate change are a scientifically proven certainty. I can't imagine what ratio of denial, ignorance and bias would have combined to make Ron hold those opinions. It's very disheartening. On the one hand, I'd love to see him in the oval office - his term could really have a revolutionary impact on U.S politics and its relationship with the rest of the world.

But on the other, the world can't afford another five years of inaction on the issue after ten years of the worst environment and energy policy from Washington. It could be very dangerous to have a global warming skeptic as the U.S. president when we're in the midst of what Al Gore rightly calls a planetary emergency. There may be hope though. In the Google interview he also admits that he doesn't know enough about this issue. I hope he finds out soon because he'd putting a lot of votes at stake otherwise.