Pakistan News Service

Saturday Aug 2, 2014, Shawwal 5, 1435 Hijri
Logo Logo
LATEST :
Pakistan News Home -> Tribune Corner -> News Details

Pakistan quake island unlikely to last, say experts

26 September, 2013

GWADAR: A small island of mud and rock created by the huge earthquake that hit Balochistan has fascinated locals but experts – who found methane gas rising from it – say it is unlikely to last long.

The 7.7-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday in Balochistan's remote Awaran district, killing at least 271 people and affecting hundreds of thousands. Off the coastline near the port of Gwadar, some 400 kilometres from the epicentre, locals were astonished to see the dark grey mass of rock and mud that had emerged from the waves in the Arabian Sea. "It is not a small thing, but a huge thing which has emerged from under the water," Gwadar resident Muhammad Rustam told AFP. "It looked very, very strange to me and also a bit scary because suddenly a huge thing has emerged from the water."

Enterprising boat owners were doing a brisk trade ferrying curious sightseers to the island – dubbed "Earthquake Mountain" by locals. Mohammad Danish, a marine biologist from Pakistan's National Institute of Oceanography, said a team of experts had visited the island and found methane gas rising. "Our team found bubbles rising from the surface of the island which caught fire when a match was lit and we forbade our team to start any flame. It is methane gas," Danish said on a private television news.

The island is about 60 to 70 feet high, up to 300-feet wide and up to 120-feet long, he said. It sits about 650 feet from the coast. The surface was a solid but muddy mix of stones, sand and water with visible cracks, said an AFP cameraman who visited the island. Dead fish and sea plants lay on the surface. Gary Gibson, a seismologist with Australia's University of Melbourne, said the new island was likely to be a "mud volcano", created by methane gas forcing material upwards during the violent shaking of the earthquake.

"It's happened before in that area but it's certainly an unusual event, very rare," Gibson told AFP, adding that it was "very curious" to see such activity some 400 kilometres from the quake's epicentre. The so-called island is not a fixed structure but a body of mud that will be broken down by wave activity and dispersed over time, the scientist said. A similar event happened in the same area in 1945 when an 8.1-magnitude earthquake at Makran triggered the formation of mud volcanoes off Gwadar. Professor Shamim Ahmed Shaikh, chairman of the department of geology at Karachi University, said the island, which has not been officially named, would disperse within a couple of months.

He said it happens along the Makran coast because of the complex relationship between tectonic plates in the area. Pakistan sits close to the junction of three plates – the Indian, Arabian and Eurasian. "About a year back an island of almost similar size had surfaced at a similar distance from the coast in the Makran region. This would disperse in a week to a couple of months," Shaikh told AFP.

Gibson said the temporary island was very different from the permanent uplift seen during major "subduction zone" earthquakes, where plate collisions force the Earth's crust suddenly and sometimes dramatically upwards. For example, in the massive 9.5-magnitude earthquake in Chile in 1960 – known as the world's largest ever – whole fishing villages were thrust "several metres" upwards and wharves suddenly located hundreds of metres inland, Gibson said.

Such uplift events are relatively common in the Pacific's so-called "Ring of Fire", a hotbed of seismic and volcanic activity at the junction of several tectonic plates. A thundering 8.0-magnitude quake in the Solomon Islands in 2007 thrust Ranogga Island upwards by three metres, exposing submerged reefs once popular with divers and killing the vibrant corals, while expanding the shoreline outwards by several metres in the process.

During the massive 9.2-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra which triggered a devastating tsunami across the Indian Ocean in 2004, several islands were pushed upwards while others subsided into the ocean. The Aceh coast dropped permanently by one metre while Simeulue Island was lifted by as much as 1.5 metres, exposing the surrounding reef, which became the island's new fringe.

End.

 What do you think about the story ? Leave your comments!

Heading (Optional)
Your Comments: *

Your Name:*
E-mail (Optional):
City (Optional):
Country (Optional):
 
 
Field marked(*) are mandatory.
Note. The PakTribune will publish as many comments as possible but cannot guarantee publication of all. PakTribune keeps its rights reserved to edit the comments for reasons of clarity, brevity and morality. The external links like http:// https:// etc... are not allowed for the time being to be posted inside comments to discourage spammers.

 
  Speak Out View All
Artilce 6 and Musharraf Trail
Blocking Nato supply line
  Quick Vote Show Results
Question: "In view of the current situation do you think Talks with Taliban should take place only within the ambit of Article 4 of Objectives Resolution that defines our Common Purpose i.e. PM/ President down to all Pakistanis to work till we achieve the rights of Democracy, Freedom, Tolerance and Social Justice for all Pakistanis:"
Yes
No
 
Candid Corner
Exclusive by
Lt. Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
No martial law until three elections after NRO: Shehla Raza
Plane crash in typhoon-hit Taiwan kills 47
Suggested Sites