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ZetaTalk: South Africa

Written November 27, 2010

The last major earthquake here, registering an estimated 6.5 on the Richter scale, occurred exactly 200 years ago on 4 December 1809. However, the rest of South Africa seems equally at risk of experiencing a fairly big earthquake event. Experts say large areas of the African continent are in an unstable, tectonically active state. The most immediate threat, nonetheless, seems to be centred in Cape Town. Predictions of an imminent 'big one' became more common after a minor earthquake measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale shook these parts in 2003. The day after the 1809 earthquake, people travelled from Cape Town to stare in awe at geysers of muddy water spurting upwards from schisms that had appeared in the earth.

That S Africa is a seismically inactive location can be seen from the media reaction to a mere 3.1 in 2003, and a history of a 6.5 as being the "last big one". This is not to minimize or ridicule concerns about a nuclear power plant in the vicinity. As we have stated, these power plants have automatic controls that shut the reactor down at the slightest hint of earthquake. They also have redundant electrical systems, to avoid the possibility of an outage disabling the control. Your concerns during the 7 of 10 roll, which will of course jolt Africa, are thus unwarranted.

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