7.7 Pakistan Earthquake so Strong it Creates New Island
A 7.7 magnitude earthquake in southwestern Pakistan has killed more than 300 people and destroyed the homes of thousands Tuesday. The tremor shook the earth with such force that it caused an island to appear at sea off the coastal town of Gwadar.
The quake struck Baluchistan, the country's largest and most impoverished province. Most of the homes in the region are made of simple mud bricks unable to withstand the intensity of the quake. About 90 percent of the homes in the Awaran district were destroyed, the BBC reported.
More than 300,000 people across six districts were affected by the quake, the BBC said, adding that at least 328 people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
The spontaneous appearance of small islands or the rise of previously submerged ocean features is known to happen in the event of large earthquakes.
Johnathon Amos, science correspondent for the BBC, reported that the island formed in the Arabian Sea is the result of a process known as "liquefraction" -- where large volumes of sand become destabilized and ooze up to the surface.
Locals in Gwadar who were around in 1968 may recall a similar island that was shaken to the water's surface by an earthquake. That island vanished after a year above water, according to NBC.
It takes a significant earthquake to push an ocean feature above the surface. "You wouldn't expect to see it in a 3- or 4-magnitude [quake]," Stanford University geologist Stephan Graham told NBC News. It requires at least a 7- or 8-magnitude event to trigger the phenomenon.
"When such a strong earthquake builds pressure, there is the likelihood of such islands emerging," head of the Geological Survey of Pakistan, Zahid Rafi, told The Associated Press. "That big shock beneath the earth causes a lot of disturbance."
Pakistan navy geologist Mohammed Danish told state media that the island was about 60 feet high, 100 feet long and 250 feet wide, according to the AP. The sea where the island emerged is only about 23 feet deep.