Guwahati, Saturday, January 9, 2010
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Experts’ bid to unravel cloud-quake correlation
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Jan 8 – Experts has left no stone unturned to know in advance the occurrence of earthquakes, the most dreaded of the natural disasters. Study of clouds has come as a fresh area for gathering information on the potential quakes. This area drew the attention of the people with the information that strange clouds appeared over the sky 69 days ahead of a killer earthquake struck Iran in February, 2005. Again, such cloud formations were observed before another earthquake in the same country. Then came the multi-coloured clouds observed just before the devastating 2008 Sichuan Earthquake in China.

While the February 2005 Iranian earthquake, 6.4 in magnitude, killed 600 people, the earthquake, which hit Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008, measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, killed almost 90,000 people and rendered around five million people homeless. It was China’s worst earthquake for a period of 30 years, said media reports.

YouTube presented the footage of the strange clouds that appeared over the Chichuan sky before the people.

Based on that, a write up was prepared by Paul Simons, which appeared in the Times on May 22 last year. It said that the first impression of the clouds was of a rainbow smeared on to small scraps of clouds, a phenomenon best known as a circumzenithal halo.

This is created when sunlight shines through cirrus clouds full of tiny hexagonal ice crystals shaped like plates. The crystals behave like glass prisms, splitting the light into a bow with the colours of the spectrum, often brighter than a rainbow.

Nevertheless, one puzzle is that the colours in the Chinese clouds were upside down from a normal circumzenithal halo – red pointing towards the horizon and blue towards the Sun, instead of the other way round, Simons said.

Geophysicists Guangmeng Guo and Bin Wang of Nanyang Normal University in Henan, China, are of the opinion that thermal images along the active faults on the earth may have links with such clouds.

However, Mike Blanpied of the US Geological Survey’s earthquake hazards programme, refuses to subscribe to such beliefs.

Here in Assam, it is reported that line shaped clouds, characterize as ‘earthquake clouds’ were observed over the sky in Guwahati a day before the December 30, 2009 earthquake that measured 5.5 on the Richter scale.

Dr I R Bhattacharjee took photographs of those clouds using his mobile phone around 3-50 pm of December 29 at Christian Basti area. Bhattacharjee was alerted by his sister of that queer development over the sky.