Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where's Irwin Allen When You Need Him?

After being a science and geology teacher for twenty years, I've finally gotten to experience an earthquake first-hand, as a tremor epicentered a little west of here near Siheung in Gyeonggi-do rocked Seoul at 6:08 PM yesterday, and I'd like to tell you all about it!

... only, I felt absolutely nothing, and wouldn't have even known about it if my co-workers hadn't mentioned it at lunch today. In fact, of the papers I keep on the sidebar, only the Korea Times had an online story about it. One co-worker who lives west of me said her floor shook and windows rattled. She said she worried that the building would collapse.

Of course, Korea is situated along the Ring of Fire, the geologically active edge of the Pacific plate, so the peninsula's violent human history is mirrored by the folded mountains, granite outcroppings and extinct volcanoes that compose its topography.

Very low-level quakes or temblors occur with some regularity, averaging about 40 per year, but most are mere bumps on the Richter scale--the one yesterday registered a 3.0, nothing to write home about. Not much to blog about, for that matter. Anyway, the KT story gives a little bit more:
"The tremor continued for two or three seconds," the [Korea Meteorological Administration] said in a briefing. Residents especially in western Seoul reported that the quake was strong enough for them to feel the buildings they were in shaking.
The tremor was felt as far away as Yongin, Suwon and Goyang.
It was the strongest tremor out of three recorded in the bustling capital city of 12 million since 1987, when the administration began to monitor earthquakes in Korea. The other two occurred on Sept. 15, 2004 and June 14, 1990, but again they caused no damage.

Dong-A Ilbo carried a story last month about plans to improve quake-resistance here in all new buildings regardless of size:
Park Yeon-soo, head of the National Emergency Management Agency, told a news briefing after the meeting, “We decided on comprehensive measures to prevent disasters from earthquakes since Korea saw a record 60 earthquakes last year and experts say we are no longer safe from earthquakes.”
The meeting came in the wake of a Dong-A Ilbo report saying an earthquake will inflict massive damage on Korea because only 18 percent of the country’s buildings are earthquake-resistant.

Yes, I know I'm on vacation, but they had a lunch at SkyOnn Food in Gimpo Airport to say Bon voyage to a team headed for Singapore for three days to visit our "twin school" there.


조안나 said...

my coworker said her desk was shaking... I guess that must have been it! I just thought she was crazy...

Tuttle said...

Jo-Anna: This was at work? At 6:08?

I didn't notice anything either, maybe it's us dumb Westerners ...