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Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial by Nature Geosciences

As 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake memorial, Nature Geosciencesand the Department of Geosciences of National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)jointly published a series of review and one editorial on its website (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/focus/wenchuan-earthquake/index.html), which analyze and deconstruct the existing impact and danger of the disaster. The 2008 natural disaster caused a total death toll of 80,000 and left millions homeless. At the same time, the website offers free downloads of 9 WenchuanEarthquakerelated essays which have been published in Nature and its journals in the past 5 years, among which 5 were generated from researchesfunded by NSFC.

The 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake caused repeated landslides, destroying many towns and habitats. In his essay, Dr. Huang Runqiu and Dr. Fan Xuanmei of State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenviroment Protection (Chengdu University of Technology) stated that landslide occurrence frequency in Sichuan region has increased after the Wenchuan Earthquake, which wasreflected prior to Ya’an Earthquake in this April. The occurrence frequency is likely to remain high in the coming ten to twenty years. The 2008 earthquake caused huge amounts of rubbles on steep hillsides. Heavy rainstorms can wash away these rubbles to nearby valleys, causing destructive debris flow.

The sudden earthquake of 2008 did come somewhat as a surprise. Researcher Zhang Peizhen from State Key Laboratory of Earthquake Dynamics, China Earthquake Administration, pointed out in another review article that experts have long held the view that earthquake probabilityin Longmen Mountain is merely low to moderate, due to the fact that rock deformation there is slow and in theory, earthquake should happen once in several thousand years. He believes that rock strength and the structure of fault zone may hold an answer to the cause of earthquake.

In the last review article, Researcher Chen Yinning of the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) praised that the government adopted swift actions for providing disaster relief after the quake. She suggested that the government should pay more attention to local community and individual demands, such as better education about earthquake preparation and reaction so as to help reduce the negative impact and life losses.

Nature Geosciences published an editorial which specifically pointedout that the detailed records and mass data of Wenchuan Earthquake would better educate us about forming process of “intraplate quakes”. The editorial urged researchers to keep on their better work for “reaction to natural disasters will be developed with knowledge accumulation”.

This is one of the memorials of Wenchuan Earthquake jointly organized by Nature Geosciences and the Department of Geosciences, NSFC. Nature Geosciences will also publish the collected essays of this memorial on a global scale.

Copyright 2007 Bureau of International Cooperation, NSFC