China Integrates Animals into Development of Earthquake Monitoring Stations
Inspired by the wonders of nature, China has integrated the use of animals into its high-tech earthquake monitoring system.
This, as Chinese researchers have learned that many species of animals and birds exhibit odd behavior shortly before a large quake happens, China Daily reported.
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According to Sun De'lei, deputy chief of the quake monitoring and forecasting department at the Earthquake Bureau, the strange behavioral shown by these animals do not necessarily mean that a quake is about to hit, but they can still be good indicators of a potential temblor.
The Xinjiang Ancient Ecological Garden, which was designated as the 28th earthquake monitoring station in the city, was chosen because it is the home of a large number of animals, including the Ferghana horse.
Most of China's earthquake monitoring stations now keep animals and birds on site, which include horses, pigs, oxen, sheep, dogs, chickens, ducks, penguins, parrots, quails, peacocks, vultures, pheasants and geese.
The centers' personnel record the animals' daily activities, taking note of any major changes in their behavior, and reporting them in case they may relate to an upcoming quake.
Sun disclosed that before the magnitude 4.2 quake in Urumqi on Dec. 24 last year, more than 60 sleeping parakeets suddenly jumped down from their perches, while the center's parrots squawked for almost 30 minutes.
The China Earthquake Administration ramped up the development of its monitoring stations with animals across the mainland in the wake of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan that left more than 69,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands injured.
Long before the quake in in the outskirts Deyang, Sichuan, hundreds of pigs squealed for hours, as they tried to escape their enclosures.
"The pigs were whipped into a frenzy 12 hours before the quake came," recalled Liu Wanquan, director of the earthquake prevention bureau's forecast and disaster reduction department in Deyang.
Liu explained that seismic activity are preceded by movements in the Earth's magnetic field, which some animals such as pigs and chickens can sense even days a few days before their occurrence.
Immediately after the 2008 tremor, China's provincial government of Deyang established 80 earthquake monitoring stations with animals, which has about 3,000 pigs.