Head of Archaeology and Geography at Wits University, Professor Gillian Drennan, has provided insights into the recent earthquakes in Johannesburg. According to The Citizen, a powerful 4.4 magnitude earthquake originated in Boksburg on June 10. Not even weeks later, residents of Johannesburg were once again shaken awake by a 2.2 magnitude earthquake in Soweto. The Council for Geoscience (CGS) confirmed that the Soweto earthquake occurred in Johannesburg’s southern region around 03:15 AM. Professor Drennan suggested the Soweto earthquake resulted from the earth readjusting itself.
According to Professor Drennan, the earlier earthquake was likely shallow and possibly linked to mining activity. However, she explained that residents should understand the recent earthquake in Soweto as part of the earth’s natural readjustment process. The significant movement observed in the Boksburg earthquake could be connected to Soweto’s seismic event.
In the aftermath of a strong earthquake, aftershocks are common. Professor Drennan explained that such aftershocks can persist for several days, representing the release of accumulated stress over time. She highlighted that multiple aftershocks in clusters are a natural consequence of stress build-up and subsequent release.
When considering the likelihood of a significant earthquake with catastrophic consequences in South Africa, Professor Drennan emphasised the difficulty of prediction. She clarified that South Africa, not situated on a plate boundary like the one responsible for devastating earthquakes in Japan, is unlikely to experience such intense seismic activity. However, she acknowledged the influence of mining and water extraction, which can cause the earth to readjust by collapsing ground and closing up empty spaces.
Regarding the Pacific Ring of Fire, known for its tectonic plate boundaries, Professor Drennan explained that South Africa is located in the middle of a continent, away from these major plate boundaries. Consequently, the nature of readjustment in South Africa differs from regions along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Professor Drennan suggested that the earthquakes in Johannesburg could also be related to factors like subsidence, such as sinkholes. In any case, the underlying cause remains the earth readjusting itself.
Through Professor Drennan’s insights, it becomes evident that understanding the complexities of seismic events and their causes is crucial in comprehending the recent earthquakes experienced in Johannesburg.
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