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为什么地震如此难以预测? – 译学馆
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为什么地震如此难以预测?

Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? - Jean-Baptiste P. Koehl

这个世界是所有固体的象征 它在我们脚下移动 就像一层覆盖在液体上的外壳——查尔斯·达尔文
公元132年
In 132 CE,
来自中国的博学之士张衡
Chinese polymath Zhang Heng
向汉朝廷进献了他的最新发明
presented the Han court withhis latest invention.
他宣称那个像花瓶一样的东西
This large vase, he claimed,
可以使他们实时知晓国内发生了地震
could tell them whenever an earthquake occurred in their kingdom,
以及他们需要救援的具体方位
including the direction they should send aid.
朝廷上下对此持怀疑的态度
The court was somewhat skeptical,
尤其是当装置在一个看似平静的下午触发时
especially when the device triggered on a seemingly quiet afternoon.
但是几天后当信使来报请求支援时
But when messengers came for help days later,
他们的怀疑变成了感激
their doubts turned to gratitude.
如今我们已经不再用它来检测地震了
Today we no longer rely on pots toidentify seismic events,
但是检测地震对相关人员而言仍是一个挑战
but earthquakes still offer a unique challenge to those trying to track them.
那么为什么地震这么难以预测呢?
So why are earthquakes sohard to anticipate,
我们应该怎样才能更好的预测它们呢?
and how could we get betterat predicting them?
想要回答这个问题我们就必须弄清楚地震爆发的原理
To answer that, we need to understand some theories behind how earthquakes occur.
地壳由几个巨大的不规则岩石板块组成
Earth’s crust is made from several vastjagged slabs of rock
我们称之为构造板块
called tectonic plates, each riding on a hot,
而每一个板块上面都有部分被炙热的地幔包裹
partially molten layer of Earth’s mantle.
这也是板块运转缓慢的原因
This causes the plates tospread very slowly,
即每年只移动1-20公分
at anywhere from 1 to 20centimeters per year.
但是这小小的移动足以在板块互动时造成巨大的裂缝
But these tiny movements are powerful enough to cause deep cracks in then interacting plates.
而且发生的地区不定 这种超强的压力极易引发地震
And in unstable zones, the intensifying pressure may ultimately trigger an earthquake.
监控这些小的运动真的特别困难
It’s hard enough to monitor these miniscule movements,
而且引起地震的原因有许多种
but the factors that turn shifts into seismic events are far more varied.
不同的岩石上并列着不同的地质断裂带
Different fault lines juxtapose different rocks–
有些在高压下比较强 而有些比较弱
some of which are stronger–or weaker–under pressure.
不同的岩石对摩擦力和高温的反应都不同
Diverse rocks also react differently tofriction and high temperatures.
有部分会熔化并释放出润滑滚烫的岩浆
Some partially melt and can releaselubricating fluids
而滚烫的岩浆会减小断裂带之间的摩擦力
made of superheated minerals that reduce fault line friction.
但有些会保持干燥且易在高压下变得更坚硬
But some are left dry, prone to dangerous build-ups of pressure.
而这一切都归咎于地心引力的不同
And all these faults are subject tovarying gravitational forces,
以及通过地幔滚烫岩石流
as well as the currents of hot rocks moving throughout Earth’s mantle.
所以我们到底应该分析哪个变量呢?
So which of these hidden variablesshould we be analyzing,
以及我们怎样将这些归纳到预言箱里呢?
and how do they fit into ourgrowing prediction toolkit?
由于部分外力以恒定高频发生
Because some of these forces occurat largely constant rates,
因为地球的活动具有周期性
the behavior of the platesis somewhat cyclical.
现今我们许多可靠线索都来源于长期的预测经验
Today many of our most reliable cluescome from long-term forecasting,
与何时何地曾发生过地震有关
related to when and where earthquakeshave previously occurred.
经过了几千年的积累
At the scale of millennia,
让我们可以预测那些活跃度高的断层何时爆发
this allows us to make predictions about when highly active faults,
就像圣安德烈亚斯早就预测到会有一场大型地震
like the San Andreas, are overdue for a massive earthquake.
但由于多种原因
But due to the many variables involved,
这个方法也只能估测出大致的时间
this method can only predict very loose timeframes.
为了估测更多即将来临的地震
To predict more imminent events,
科研工作者们已经开始研究地震前的震动了
researchers have investigated the vibrations Earth elicits before a quake.
很久以前地质学家就已经用地震仪
Geologists have long used seismometers
去检测和定位地壳里微小的震动了
to track and map these tiny shiftsin the earth’s crust.
如今大多数智能手机可以来记录一些基本的地震波
And today, most smartphones arealso capable of recording primary seismic waves.
只要在全世界有网的地方
With a network of phones around the globe,
科学家就可以建立一个潜在的详细丰富外包系统
scientists could potentially crowdsource a rich, detailed warning system
来提醒人们即将发生的地震
that alerts people to incoming quakes.
不幸的是 手机可能无法提供
Unfortunately phones might not be able to provide
制定安全协议所需的预先通知
the advance notice needed to enact safety protocols.
但像美航局的地震模拟器这类软件
But such detailed readingswould still be useful
详细阅读指南还是很有用的
for prediction tools like NASA’sQuakesim software,
它们用各种地质数据做参考来推断灾害发生区域
which can use a rigorous blend ofgeological data to identify regions of risk.
然而最近的研究表明
However recent studies indicate
地震发生的最明显的迹象这些探测器都探测不到
the most telling signs of a quake might be invisible to all these sensors.
2011年 在日本东海岸发生地震前
In 2011, just before an earthquake struck the east coast of Japan,
附近的研究人员检测到了两种超浓度的
nearby researchers recorded surprisinglyhigh concentrations
放射性同位素 氡和钍射气
of the radioactive isotope pair:radon and thoron.
因为地震前地壳的压力增大
As stress builds up in the crust rightbefore an earthquake,
大量的这种气体就从裂缝中飘向了地面
microfractures allow these gasesto escape to the surface.
于是这些科学家就认为如果我们在地震可能发生的区域
These scientists think that if we built a vast network
建立一个庞大的氡和钍射气网络测探仪
of radon-thoron detectors in earthquake-prone areas,
那么它就可以成为一个警报器
it could become a promising warning system:
很可能在地震发生前一周给出预示
potentially predicting quakesa week in advance.
当然这些技术目前还没有
Of course, none of these technologies would be as helpful
简单地探测地球深处本身有用
as simply looking deep inside the earth itself.
我们只有做近一步的探索
With a deeper view we might be able to track
才能追踪和预测大的地质变化的准确时间
and predict large-scale geological changes in real time,
这样也许每年就能拯救成千上万条生命
possibly saving tens of thousandsof lives a year.
但目前
But for now,
这些技术只能帮助我们为这些灾难区域
these technologies can help us prepare
做出快速的回应和准备
and respond quickly to areas in need
不再像以前一样等着地震仪给我们指引
without waiting for directionsfrom a vase.
以上节目让你了解到这种
Keep this boring but terrifying power
令人既厌又怕的自然力量
of nature with this playlist.

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视频概述

从古至今地震都难以准确预测,每次地震都带来重大伤亡。那么如今随着科技的进步我们又能做些什么呢?

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视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhRuUoTnA6g

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