Can human activity cause an earthquake? … Short answer is surprisingly yes.

My twitter feed enticed me with the line “Human activity triggered fatal Spanish #earthquake” I had to read the article.

To summarise the article:

There was a fault line which had pressure built up in it. In other words there was going to be an earth quake or more likely many small earthquakes slowly releasing pressure. The Lorca earthquake on 11 May 2011 was unusually shallow and was one large quake. Shallow quakes cause more damage than deep quakes.

If you or your partner have had a baby born after induction, you know that the labour is quicker than a natural birth. The pains come quicker and harder. Well with humans draining large amounts of ground water for irrigation, this worked a little like inducing a baby. The earthquake cam quicker and more violent than if it had occurred naturally. That meant more loss of life and injuries on top of more damage of homes and buildings.

The only upside to the whole thing is that seismologists gained information which might help assess the potential for triggering such earthquakes in future so we do not trigger worse earthquakes than would occur naturally, and maybe in the distant future we may even learn how to trigger small, deep earthquakes to release pressure even slower than nature does and prevent disasters. We can only hope.