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The “Rumble” in Kaduna!


Earth tremor

Earth tremor

You’ve no doubt heard about the late Muhammed Ali’s historic “Rumble In The Jungle”—the fight in which he knocked out awesome George Forman, to regain the Heavyweight Championship boxing title.

In sweltering heat, and with the whole world watching, Ali caught Forman coming in: And dispelled, forever, the myth of his invincibility.

Well, nature staged its own “rumble” a few days ago, in northern Nigeria—where a series of low magnitude earthquakes rattled several villages in the Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Like Ali’s KO of Forman, in the Congo, my hope is that the Rumble In Kaduna will dispel any lingering illusions about Nigeria’s insularity from geological upheavals and prompt re-ordering policy priorities.

I find the response of some well-meaning legislators interesting. They reportedly intend to query the heads of “relevant agencies” about their “preparedness”.

What the solons mean, by “preparedness,” is not clear. One thing is very clear though: No government agency (in Nigeria or anywhere else) can predict or prevent an earthquake.

The best that can be expected, is for these agencies to explain what causes earthquakes and advise local people, as to the proper course of action when such disturbances occur.

Earth consists of a rigid crust, encasing a semifluid mass of hot rock. The crust (or lithosphere) appears, in illustrations, like the cracked and segmented shell of an egg that has boiled for too long.

Our planet is dynamic. The segments, which geologists call “tectonic plates,” rest on a mantle of molten and/or semi-molten material that is constantly in motion.

As H. Robinson apprises, in Physical Geography, the crust is divided “into a number of rigid, sluggishly moving segments of varying size”.

There are, he notes, six major plates—continental in proportion—and a number of smaller ones. None of these masses are ever at rest.

Driven by convection currents, in the mantle on which they float, the edges of the plates are continually slipping past each other (in various directions), jamming together or separating.

Occasionally, a slab of rock will get stuck and tension will build up. Then it will suddenly break or slip free, releasing enormous amounts of energy in the process.

Earthquakes are nothing more than travelling shockwaves, which originate these subterranean disturbances and carry energy outwards from the point of this rupture.

Thus, as Robinson explains, “The boundaries of the plates are the scene of intense geological activity which expresses itself most obviously in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions”.

As Emeka Anuforo correctly reported (September 15th), there is nothing new about Earth tremour in Nigeria—although they are usually much benign, than the one that shook Kwoi and some other villages.

I cannot speak of other Federal parastatals. But the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) is beyond and above reproach.

NASRDA has been hammering on this issue for more than a decade, warning Nigerians that they are not immune to geological upheavals.

I have written several news and feature articles as well as columns, based on NASRDA’s research and the commentary of its experts. The agency once allowed me to follow its investigators into the field.

The problem is Nigerians are too deeply mired in religion to pay much attention to scientific issues—until something happens to attract their attention.

Also, budgetary priorities of Government are long overdue for a radical rethink. Adequate funding for NASRDA ought to take priority over financing football and female weightlifters.

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Kaduna StateNASRDA
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