Monday, April 09, 2007

Solomon Island Raised by Tsunami Earthquake

The island of Ranongga has been raised by over 10 feet by last week's earthquake. Now, pristine coral reefs are sitting out of the water and dying. A way of life is in peril as fish and the diving industry that sustains the Solomon Islands is in serious jeopardy.

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, all around the ring of fire there is intense activity. How will this increase is activity affect us all? It makes you wonder what will be next...

Full Article

The seismic jolt that unleashed the deadly Solomons tsunami this week lifted an entire island metres out of the sea, destroying some of the world's most pristine coral reefs.

In an instant, the grinding of the Earth's tectonic plates in the 8.0 magnitude earthquake Monday forced the island of Ranongga up three metres (10 foot).

Submerged reefs that once attracted scuba divers from around the globe lie exposed and dying after the quake raised the mountainous landmass, which is 32-kilometres (20-miles) long and 8-kilometres (5-miles) wide.

Corals that used to form an underwater wonderland of iridescent blues, greens and reds now bleach under the sun, transforming into a barren moonscape surrounding the island.

The stench of rotting fish and other marine life stranded on the reefs when the seas receded is overwhelming and the once vibrant coral is dry and crunches underfoot.

Dazed villagers stand on the shoreline, still coming to terms with the cataclysmic shift that changed the geography of their island forever, pushing the shoreline out to sea by up to 70 metres.

Aid agencies have yet to reach Ranongga after the quake and tsunami that killed at least 34 people in the Pacific archipelago but an AFP reporter and photographer on a chartered boat witnessed the destruction first hand.

At Pienuna, on Ranongga's east coast, locals said much of their harbour had disappeared, leaving only a narrow inlet lined by jagged exposed coral reefs either side.

Villager Harison Gago said there were huge earthquake fissures which had almost split the island in half, gesturing with his hands that some of the cracks were 50 centimetres (20 inches) wide.

Further north at Niu Barae, fisherman Hendrik Kegala had just finished exploring the new underwater landscape of the island with a snorkel when contacted by the AFP team.

He said a huge submerged chasm had opened up, running at least 500 metres (550 yards) parallel to the coast.

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