China Quake Beat the Odds

Unusual seismic conditions led to disaster, scientists say
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2008 4:06 PM CDT
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, accompany by the Chinese officials visit the collapsed Tengda Physical Club in the quake hit Dujiangyan, in southwest China's Sichuan province Sunday, June...   (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool)
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(Newser) – The earthquake that leveled parts of China’s Sichuan province last month was a geological oddity arising from usually inactive faults, LiveScience reports. The bizarre seismological coincidences behind the quake explain why no one was able to predict the event, which claimed 69,000 lives.

Seismic activity in the area normally manifests itself when the earth's crust rises and flows rather than buckling. "Nobody was thinking there would be a major seismological event," said an MIT seismologist. "This earthquake was quite unusual." (Read more China earthquake stories.)