Real and imaginary fluctuations
By Yevgenia Levashova
The destructive earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan have killed thousands of people. The economic damage is also huge, with international experts already assessing it at around $35bn. Now, possible ecological threats are being discussed, with Italian scientists asserting that the powerful earthquake has shifted the Earth’s axis by 10cm. However, according to the Director of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus’ Geophysical Monitoring Centre, doctor of physico-mathematical sciences Arkady Aronov, we shouldn’t be afraid of terrible consequences.
“While rotating on its axis, the Earth is constantly vibrating,” he notes. “When strong earthquakes happen, such as that in Japan, rocks shift and release energy. This undoubtedly influences the dynamics of the Earth but everything then settles back again.” The National Academy of Sciences’ Geophysical Monitoring Centre keeps track of tremors worldwide; the event in Japan was no exception. “Seismic waves from the Japanese earthquake can’t be felt in Belarus, since the distance is so great, although our devices register these micro-fluctuations. Of course, we can’t speak of any destructive influence on us,” explains Mr. Aronov.
Earthquakes are rare in Belarus, with only four sensible earthquakes recorded to date. At present, regular seismicity activity of a small level is observed around the Starobin potash salt deposit but such tremors represent no serious danger if we monitor the geodynamical situation and observe safety procedures during mining.
Alla Shaibak, Departmental Head of the Hydrometeorology Department’s Republican Centre for Radiation Control and Environmental Monitoring at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, notes that radiation in Belarus is under constant monitoring. So far, the emergency situation at the Japanese Fukushima-1 nuclear power station hasn’t brought any consequences for Belarus. “The level of gamma radiation and radioactivity of natural fallout and aerosols in the air are the same as they have been for many years,” notes the specialist.
Radiation will only appear in Belarus if a nuclear explosion discharges into the air; at present, there is only a radiation leak in Japan.