23 February 2009

A few items of interest

Posted by Dave Petley

You may have noticed that the number of posts on this blog has dipped of late. My apologies for this – we learnt just before Christmas that my seven year old son Adam needed open heart surgery, which was undertaken earlier this month. I am glad to say that it was a complete success and he has today returned to school, so normal service will hopefully be returned.

So, I thought I would start off with a short post highlighting some interesting stories that have emerged over the last few weeks:

The aftermath of the Gonaives mudslides in Haiti
There is a short but very interesting (great for teaching) video on the World Focus website that describes the legacy of the mudslides last summer in Gonaives in Haiti. An earlier post on this problem is available here.

Wenchuan (Sichuan) Earthquake: 18,000 households to be relocated to avoid geological disasters
China Daily reported a couple of weeks ago that 18,000 households are having to be relocated over the next three years to avoid geologically-related (i.e. landslide and sediment) disasters, at a cost of $166 million. The article also gives some interesting data on the scale of the problem., noting that the province “will establish a monitoring network for some 3,695 at-risk sites”. They note that “8,061 sites with potential geological disasters were found in 39 county-level areas in Sichuan after the quake, threatening the safety of 158,000 households with a population of 640,000 people, and assets worth 30 billion yuan.” Finally, the article notes that “the effects of potential geological disasters triggered by the quake will last for ten years”.

What happens when a small rockfall hits a car
Meanwhile, the Manawatu Standard in New Zealand (I am sure that you never miss a copy….) carried an interesting story about a car being hit by a rock in Manawatu Gorge on North Island, with the following picture of the damage:

It is fortunate that there were no passengers in the car at the time.

Increasing rates of erosion in northern India
There is also quite a nice article on an Indian news site, Samay Live, about increased rates of erosion in Himachal Pradesh in N. India as a consequence of landslides. The article notes that:
“Expressing concern over large-scale soil erosion in Himachal Pradesh mainly due to landslides, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said today said the government has initiated several measures for soil treatment. Dhumal said according to scientific surveys, the soil of the state has the capacity to bear erosion of only 10 tonnes of soil per hectare but this erosion has unfortunately risen to between 16 tonnes to 40 tonnes per hectare at present…The state’s about 53.80 per cent soil is affected by erosion, out of which the impact on 34 per cent soil is so immense that it was on the verge of losing its fertility.”