AIR, China Earthquake Administration Team up to Find Faults

May 14, 2007

Boston-based AIR Worldwide Corporation announced a collaboration agreeement with the China Earthquake Administration’s (CEA) Institute of Geology to research active faults and conduct “paleoseismic studies” in China.

AIR said the findings of the research would enhance its China earthquake model to include the most complete database of active faults and pre-historic earthquake data in China.

“This collaboration will advance our understanding of the economic impact of the earthquake hazard in China and provide information that is critically important for the country’s continuing rapid development,” stated Dr. Xiwei Xu, deputy director of the Institute of Geology at CEA. “Detailed information on the characteristics of active faults and paleoseismic data provides the key input needed to estimate the frequency and magnitude of large catastrophic earthquakes. We are very happy to work with a leading catastrophe modeling firm like AIR on this project.”

China’s Institute of Geology specializes in “active tectonics and paleoseismic research,” AIR noted. The key objective of their collaboration will be to obtain a more thorough understanding of earthquakes that predate the introduction of seismographs. According to Wikipedia, the Britain’s John Milne invented the horizontal pendulum seismograph at the Imperial College of Engineering in Japan in 1880, which “marked the beginning of modern seismology.” However, the entry also notes that a seismometer was invented by Zhang Heng in China in 132 AD.

The research team, led by Led by Dr. Xu, who is also the chief scientist for active fault and paleoseismic studies in China, will be looking further back than either date. It “will comprehensively review prehistoric earthquakes, particularly their location, timing and size,” said AIR. “Paleoseismic evidence of prehistoric earthquakes includes offsets in geologic formations found in exhumed fault zones, evidence of rapid uplift or subsidence near coastal areas, laterally offset stream valleys, and liquefaction artifacts such as sand boils.”

Dr. Bingming Shen-Tu, earthquake project manager at AIR Worldwide, noted that the company was looking forward to the project. He also indicated that “as AIR learns more about active tectonics and pre-historic earthquakes in China, we will use this valuable data to improve our industry leading model, which is used to better quantify and manage earthquake risk in China.”

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