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#234738 - 04/09/07 04:47 AM Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea
Marty Offline
Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea

by Neil SandsSat Apr 7, 7:19 PM ET

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.

On the beach at Niu Barae, the earthquake has revealed a sunken vessel that locals believe is a Japanese patrol boat, a remnant of the fierce fighting between Allied forces and the Japanese in WWII.

Kegala said that from the perspective of those on the island, the sea appeared to recede and villagers still feared it would come back again as a tsunami, making them reluctant to return from higher ground where they fled.

"Plenty big noise," he told AFP, describing the disaster in the local pidgin dialect.

"Water go back and not come back again," he added, saying the whooshing sound of the receding water and the shaking from the quake occurred simultaneously.

Danny Kennedy, a dive operator in the provincial capital Gizo, said the earthquake had damaged coral reefs throughout the Solomon Islands' western province.

He said dive sites once ranked among the best in the world were dying because the tremors had upset the fragile natural ecosystem.

"Some of the most beautiful corals are the most delicate and those are the ones that have been affected," he told AFP.

"The more robust corals are still there but it's the ones that people want to photograph, the sea fans and the colourful corals, that are dying."

Kennedy said the damage to the coral reefs could dry up the region's major source of overseas money.

"Diving is huge here, it employs so many local people," he said. "The fear is that people are going to come here and see the reefs are damaged then tell people not to come back for a few years until they recover."

Jackie Thomas, acting manager for Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the Solomons, said the loss of the reefs was a huge blow for the fishing communities that are dotted along Ranongga's coast.

"The fish from the reefs are the major source of protein for the villagers," she told AFP from Gizo.

"They use shells for tools and rely on the sea for many of their basic needs.

"It just shows the incredible force of the earthquake, to move a whole island."

She said the reefs around Ranongga were a protected marine environment and locals had worked hard with WWF in recent years to ensure that they were managed sustainably.

"Now it's another marine environment that has been destroyed," she said.

"Who knows if the coral reefs will recover and the fish will come back? Villagers will have to travel further to find the same sort of food and nutrition they've relied on -- the whole food chain has been disrupted."

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#234741 - 04/09/07 06:53 AM Re: Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea [Re: Marty]
Anonymous
Of course, in geological terms this happens "all the time". Look at how Belize's Blue Hole was created - that was pretty cataclysmic at the time.

New coral will grow, just not in a timescale useful to people presently living.

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#234745 - 04/09/07 01:06 PM Re: Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea [Re: ]
Otteralum Offline
amazing! simply amazing! imagine living all your life there and witnessing this event.
_________________________
I will have a Belikin -- put it on klcman's tab.

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#234802 - 04/10/07 03:30 AM Re: Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea [Re: Otteralum]
Anonymous
true, amazing. But it's also been several days and it is also amazing the E W's havent linked this event to global warming. I'm sure there is a "scientist" out there willing to do so.
Surely feel for the people living there.
Geological hiccup.

Yuch, its cold around here!

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#234805 - 04/10/07 04:06 AM Re: Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea [Re: ]
SP Daily Offline
What an a$$hole!!!

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#234810 - 04/10/07 04:52 AM Re: Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea [Re: SP Daily]
klcman Offline
What's really amazing is the audacity you have displayed in attempting to transform this thread into a soapbox for your politically inspired diatribe.....

Oh wait, considering the source, it's not so amazing at all
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But then what do I know, I am but a mere caveman

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#234813 - 04/10/07 09:04 AM Re: Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea [Re: klcman]
TrueLover Offline
Global Warming? I think not. Perhaps global warming has fried your brain. There are billions of dollars available for Reef repair and restoration and this one event would eat that up and then some. This is truly a big deal. Thanks for the article marty. Makes me sad because I doubt there's much that can be done. Although tourism may increase for a short time from people wanting to see nature in action. In the long term life will never be the same there.

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#234867 - 04/11/07 02:36 AM Re: Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea [Re: TrueLover]
CatMo Offline
P2's dead-on here.

Fact is, it's an act of God. Nature, as we call it. There's absolutely nothing to be done about it but observe and see what else--there are certainly other effects on nature related to the shift--it's brought about.

I'm a diver and love what I see down deep. However, you ain't gonna' beat Momma Nature. There may well be new things exposed that we've not seen before. Let's not be hasty in our consideration of what she's given us.
_________________________
I was going to get a life, but this was easier.

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#234869 - 04/11/07 02:52 AM Re: Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea [Re: CatMo]
Anonymous
It also goes the other way, even more catastrophic for humans. In the tsunami of a year-or-so ago, three islands in the Maldives vanished completely. Not (I believe) as a result of the wave, but more directly because of the tectonic shift that caused it.

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#234893 - 04/11/07 02:19 PM Re: Quake lifts Solomons island out of the sea [Re: ]
Anonymous
Would expect that from you, Jesse but klc gets more disappointing every day. Rantings of an old man. Get a dictionary. Diatribe? Think not. Sorry for annoying the higher-ups.

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