When earth moved, this teen didn’t flinch

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu huangzhiling@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Yi Jun­hao felt his stool wig­gle on the sixth floor of a res­i­den­tial build­ing in Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince, when a mag­ni­tude-7.0 earth­quake was trig­gered 285 kilo­me­ters away in the Ji­uzhaigou county.

But the 15-year-old ju­nior high school stu­dent didn’t panic: He had ex­pe­ri­enced three ma­jor earth­quakes in his home prov­ince in less than a decade — the mag­ni­tude-8.0 Wenchuan earth­quake in 2008, the mag­ni­tude-7.0 Lushan earth­quake in 2013 and the mag­ni­tude-6.3 Kangding earth­quake in 2014.

“I’ve been hard­ened by all the quakes,” he said.

Sichuan ranks fourth among Chi­nese re­gions most fre­quented by earth­quakes. The top three are Ti­bet, Taiwan and Yun­nan, ac­cord­ing to Chen Huizhong, a 74-year-old se­nior re­search fel­low at the In­sti­tute of Geo­physics un­der the China Earth­quake Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Fre­quent quakes have a lot to do with Sichuan’s spe­cial ge­o­graph­i­cal struc­ture, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts. About 100 mil­lion years ago, the In­dian Plate and the Eurasian Plate col­lided, push­ing up the Qing­hai-Ti­bet Plateau.

Un­der pres­sure from the plateau, the crust of the basin is eas­ily bro­ken and of­ten snaps, re­sult­ing in earth­quakes.

“The Qing­hai-Ti­bet Plateau rises by 10 to 20 cen­time­ters a year. That ex­plains why Sichuan is prone to earth­quakes, many of them ma­jor ones,” Chen said.

Chen ruled out any link be­tween Tues­day’s Ji­uzhaigou earth­quake and the Jinghe earth­quake that took place at 7:27 am on Wed­nes­day in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, de­spite the back-to­back tim­ing.

The Ji­uzhaigou earth­quake oc­curred in the coun­try’s north-south seis­mic zone run­ning through the Ningxia Hui au­ton­o­mous re­gion, east­ern Gansu prov­ince, western Sichuan and Yun­nan prov­ince, Chen said.

LI JING / XIN­HUA

Res­i­dents eat pi­laf — rice boiled in a sea­soned liq­uid with meat and car­rots — in a re­set­tle­ment area for those dis­placed by the Jinghe earth­quake in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion on Wed­nes­day.

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