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Chile vs. Haiti: Two Case Studies in Disaster
Question: What specific geological activity caused the recent earthquake in Chile?
Arthur Lerner-Lam: Okay. Well Chile is a particularly interesting earthquake from a seismological point of view. First of all of course, it was very large, a magnitude 8.8 and that’s what we call a great earthquake where we use great in terms of the wow factor if you will. It did kill 700 people thereabouts. It caused billions, tens of billions of dollars worth of damage, so the economic impact in Chile is going to be severe, but we don’t get a magnitude 8.8 very often. The only reason by the way there weren’t more casualties in Chile and more damage in Chile is that the earthquake was off the coast. It was in the subduction zone. It generated a tsunami as we saw, but it wasn’t a direct hit, but being anywhere close to an 8.8 is enough of a hit to be dangerous and that is what happened in Chile, but it was the result of a subduction zone. It’s part of what seismologists call the circum-Pacific Seismic Belt or Earthquake Belt. It’s what colloquially known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. That’s actually a great name because indeed the Pacific is rimmed, is ringed by these subduction zones. When… A subduction zone means that the heavier, denser crust of the Pacific Ocean basin is essentially diving under the lighter, less dense crust of the continents surrounding and as it dives underneath it, it sticks and slips and causes earthquakes. You know roughly 70 or 80% of the world’s biggest earthquakes occur in the Pacific Ring of Fire. You know it’s a gigantic source of tectonic energy, of earthquake energy. The other interesting thing about that by the way, and the reason it’s called the Ring of Fire is because as these plates dive down underneath the lighter continent pieces of them melt and that melt becomes magma that just drives up through what we call the mantle and the crust and creates volcanoes, so it’s kind of part of an ecological recycling mechanism going on. You’re taking old crust, throwing it out, sending it down the subduction zone, recycling it into new material just like you throw a paper bag into the garbage or in the recycling bin. So that is the basics of the tectonic activity.
These earthquakes tend to be very large because these are large plates. The continents present a significant barrier to subduction in many cases and it takes a long time for stress to build up. One interesting thing is that we knew about this problem in Chile of course for a long time and of course the Chileans, who have an extraordinarily advance and professional capacity to deal with earthquakes knew about this as well, but 20 or 30 years ago using very simple components of the plate tectonic theory this particular area was identified as a so-called seismic gap, a place where an earthquake was basically overdue. Couldn’t predict it, but we could forecast it and that is what in some sense, saved Chile.
Question: How did the Chile earthquake shift the earth’s axis?
Arthur Lerner-Lam: Yeah, that’s… You know, large earthquakes do strange things. Of course what an earthquake does is in addition to breaking the ground it actually moves big crustal blocks around and when it does that it shifts the distribution of mass of the earth. Now because this wasn’t an asteroid or a comet hitting the earth and causing all these vibrations the earth has to conserve its angular momentum and the way the earth conserves its angular momentum when crustal blocks shift like that is to change the rate of rotation and to slightly shift the axis of rotation. It can be calculated, but it really isn’t measurable. On the other hand, if you’re being paid by the microsecond maybe it’s something that you might worry about, but the interesting thing is that we can calculate it, not that is in fact something that we ought to worry about.
Question: What specific geological activity caused the recent earthquake in Haiti?
Arthur Lerner-Lam: Haiti is a different kind of an animal, but it pays to think about what is really happening around South America. The Chilean event, a subduction event was a subduction of a piece of the Pacific plate, in this case called the Nazca plate, but a piece, a smaller plate going underneath Chile, underneath the Pacific Ring of Fire, and so this is a case where the continent and the Pacific Ocean are sliding… are converging against each other in the Pacific, diving down because it’s denser, but if you look at the northern and southern parts of South America. Picture it in your mind. You’ve got the Caribbean to the north, of course, and you’ve got the Scotia Sea to the south between South America and Antarctica, and those are two very interesting plates. You know in some sense you could think about those plates as resulting from the squirt of material in geologic time going around South America, so if you can’t subduct this stuff, if you can’t get everything underneath South America through subduction that stuff has to go someplace and it goes north and south and sort of squirts around and the Caribbean plate is one of these plates got squirted through the gap between North and South America. Of course it’s a vast simplification, but it’s actually the way we teach it. It’s kind of a fun thing to think about. And so the Caribbean is actually itself a small plate. It is a significant part of plate tectonics. It was well recognized as a plate, but it’s basically squirting passed South America between North and South America going from west to east and it’s moving at a little less than an inch a year relative to North America.
You know, the unfortunate thing for Haiti is that for geologic reasons Haiti lies along that northern boundary and because this is a squirt boundary going from west to east that is what we call a strike slip fault. It’s a fault that moves sideways. There is some complexities to that, but that fault was also recognized as being capable of supporting a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake, actually a 7.2. In fact, that forecast was made in the professional literature in 2008 two years ago and we’ve known for about 20 years that that fault was dangerous. Anyway, that wasn’t a subduction earthquake. That was a sliding earthquake and sliding earthquakes or strike slip earthquakes are dangerous also for a number of reasons. First of all, they tend not to be as large as a subduction earthquake, but they can be large enough. They also in this particular case they occurred on land and unfortunately it was almost a direct hit on Port-au-Prince. The earthquake itself was shallow, which increases the amount of vibration that people on the surface feel and it was very close to major population centers, so if you will, it was sort of the perfect storm of bad affect. Even if Chile had good building codes and good construction I think we would have seen tens of thousands of casualties anyway. Very difficult to deal with an earthquake of that sort, but it was a different kind of an animal.
We’ve looked at the Chile earthquake in many ways and we continue to do so. In fact, there are a number of conferences coming up in the next few days to try to move to the next phase of Chile rebuilding and sort of essentially make the rebuilding of Chile more risk-conscious, not just for earthquakes, but for the storms coming up and the annual storm season, the annual hurricane season and concomitant landslides and other natural hazards, but you know trying to understand these earthquakes on land, these strikes of earthquakes is a very complex problem and one of the things that we’re very worried about in Haiti is that this earthquake may have stressed parts of the fault that did not rupture on January 12th.
You know when an earthquake happens it doesn’t zip open the whole fault. It only zips open, in this case, about a 40 kilometer segment of it and there is still stuff on either side that did not rupture. Well that stuff may have been overstressed. That piece of the fault may have been overstressed and so the potential for an earthquake on those segments may actually have increased. That again is a computer model. It’s something that we’re working on. It is hard to predict, but it is something that as a forecast ought to play into the way Haiti is being rebuilt. Chile we could do the same thing, but to be honest Chile apart from the economic damage and the economic recovery Chile has a good capacity to deal with future earthquakes and the outcomes of this earthquake. With Haiti I hope that the international community will work with the Haitians to build that capacity so that they can monitor the potential for these future earthquakes.
Both countries were struck by massive earthquakes, yet the scale of tragedy in Haiti was far worse. What happened in each case, and what lessons can be learned from the comparison?
Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?
- Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
- It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
- COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
What conditions of the new normal were already appreciated widely?<p>First, we understand that higher education is unique among industries. Some industries are governed by markets. Others are run by governments. Most operate under the influence of both markets and governments. And then there's higher education. Higher education as an "industry" involves public, private, and for-profit universities operating at small, medium, large, and now massive scales. Some higher education industry actors are intense specialists; others are adept generalists. Some are fantastically wealthy; others are tragically poor. Some are embedded in large cities; others are carefully situated near farms and frontiers.</p> <p>These differences demonstrate just some of the complexities that shape higher education. Still, we understand that change in the industry is underway, and we must be active in directing it. Yet because of higher education's unique (and sometimes vexing) operational and structural conditions, many of the lessons from change management and the science of industrial transformation are only applicable in limited or highly modified ways. For evidence of this, one can look at various perspectives, including those that we have offered, on such topics as <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/rethinking-higher-education/lessons-disruption" target="_blank">disruption</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/education/learning/education-technology.html" target="_blank">technology management</a>, and so-called "<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/Excerpt_IHESpecialReport_Growing-Role-of-Mergers-in-Higher-Ed.pdf" target="_blank">mergers and acquisitions</a>" in higher education. In each of these spaces, the "market forces" and "market rules" for higher education are different than they are in business, or even in government. This has always been the case and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p> <p>Second, with so much excitement about innovation in higher education, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that students are—and should remain—the core cause for innovation. Higher education's capacity to absorb new ideas is strong. But the ideas that endure are those designed to benefit students, and therefore society. This is important to remember because not all innovations are designed with students in mind. The recent history of innovation in higher education includes several cautionary tales of what can happen when institutional interests—or worse, <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/09/apollos-new-owners-seek-fresh-start-beleaguered-company" target="_blank">shareholder</a> interests—are placed above student well-being.</p>
Photo: Getty Images<p>Third, it is abundantly apparent that universities must leverage technology to increase educational quality and access. The rapid shift to delivering an education that complies with social distancing guidelines speaks volumes about the adaptability of higher education institutions, but this transition has also posed unique difficulties for colleges and universities that had been slow to adopt digital education. The last decade has shown that online education, implemented effectively, can meet or even surpass the quality of in-person <a href="https://link-springer-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/article/10.1007/s10639-019-10027-z" target="_blank">instruction</a>.</p><p>Digital instruction, broadly defined, leverages online capabilities and integrates adaptive learning methodologies, predictive analytics, and innovations in instructional design to enable increased student engagement, personalized learning experiences, and improved learning outcomes. The ability of these technologies to transcend geographic barriers and to shrink the marginal cost of educating additional students makes them essential for delivering education at scale.</p><p>As a bonus, and it is no small thing given that they are the core cause for innovation, students embrace and enjoy digital instruction. It is their preference to learn in a format that leverages technology. This should not be a surprise; it is now how we live in all facets of life.</p><p>Still, we have only barely begun to conceive of the impact digital education will have. For example, emerging virtual and augmented reality technologies that facilitate interactive, hands-on learning will transform the way that learners acquire and apply new knowledge. Technology-enabled learning cannot replace the traditional college experience or ensure the survival of any specific college, but it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale. This has always been the case, and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p>
What conditions of the new normal were emerging suspicions?<p>Our collective thinking about the role of institutional or university-to-university collaboration and networking has benefitted from a new clarity in light of COVID-19. We now recognize more than ever that colleges and universities must work together to ensure that the American higher education system is resilient and sufficiently robust to meet the needs of students and their families.</p> <p>In recent weeks, various commentators have suggested that higher education will face a wave of institutional <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/scott-galloway-predicts-colleges-will-close-due-to-pandemic-2020-5" target="_blank">closures</a> and consolidations and that large institutions with significant online instruction capacity will become dominant.</p> <p>While ASU is the largest public university in the United States by enrollment and among the most well-equipped in online education, we strongly oppose "let them fail" mindsets. The strength of American higher education relies on its institutional diversity, and on the ability of colleges and universities to meet the needs of their local communities and educate local students. The needs of learners are highly individualized, demanding a wide range of options to accommodate the aspirations and learning styles of every kind of student. Education will become less relevant and meaningful to students, and less responsive to local needs, if institutions of higher learning are allowed to fail. </p> <p>Preventing this outcome demands that colleges and universities work together to establish greater capacity for remote, distributed education. This will help institutions with fewer resources adapt to our new normal and continue to fulfill their mission of serving students, their families, and their communities. Many had suspected that collaboration and networking were preferable over letting vulnerable colleges fail. COVID-19's new normal seems to be confirming this.</p>
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during the Arizona State University graduation ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium May 13, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona. Over 65,000 people attended the graduation.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images<p>A second condition of the new normal that many had suspected to be true in recent years is the limited role that any one university or type of university can play as an exemplar to universities more broadly. For decades, the evolution of higher education has been shaped by the widespread imitation of a small number of elite universities. Most public research universities could benefit from replicating Berkeley or Michigan. Most small private colleges did well by replicating Williams or Swarthmore. And all universities paid close attention to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. It is not an exaggeration to say that the logic of replication has guided the evolution of higher education for centuries, both in the US and abroad.</p><p>Only recently have we been able to move beyond replication to new strategies of change, and COVID-19 has confirmed the legitimacy of doing so. For example, cases such as <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/10/harvard-moves-classes-online-advises-students-stay-home-after-spring-break-response-covid-19/" target="_blank">Harvard's</a> eviction of students over the course of less than one week or <a href="https://www.nhregister.com/news/coronavirus/article/Mayor-New-Haven-asks-for-coronavirus-help-Yale-15162606.php" target="_blank">Yale's apparent reluctance</a> to work with the city of New Haven, highlight that even higher education's legacy gold standards have limits and weaknesses. We are hopeful that the new normal will include a more active and earnest recognition that we need many types of universities. We think the new normal invites us to rethink the very nature of "gold standards" for higher education.</p>
A graduate student protests MIT's rejection of some evacuation exemption requests.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images<p>Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we had started to suspect and now understand that America's colleges and universities are among the many institutions of democracy and civil society that are, by their very design, incapable of being sufficiently responsive to the full spectrum of modern challenges and opportunities they face. Far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted. And without new designs, we can expect postsecondary success for these same students to be as elusive in the new normal, as it was in the <a href="http://pellinstitute.org/indicators/reports_2019.shtml" target="_blank">old normal</a>. This is not just because some universities fail to sufficiently recognize and engage the promise of diversity, this is because few universities have been designed from the outset to effectively serve the unique needs of lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color.</p>
Where can the new normal take us?<p>As colleges and universities face the difficult realities of adapting to COVID-19, they also face an opportunity to rethink their operations and designs in order to respond to social needs with greater agility, adopt technology that enables education to be delivered at scale, and collaborate with each other in order to maintain the dynamism and resilience of the American higher education system.</p> <p>COVID-19 raises questions about the relevance, the quality, and the accessibility of higher education—and these are the same challenges higher education has been grappling with for years. </p> <p>ASU has been able to rapidly adapt to the present circumstances because we have spent nearly two decades not just anticipating but <em>driving</em> innovation in higher education. We have adopted a <a href="https://www.asu.edu/about/charter-mission-and-values" target="_blank">charter</a> that formalizes our definition of success in terms of "who we include and how they succeed" rather than "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/17/forget-varsity-blues-madness-lets-talk-about-students-who-cant-afford-college/" target="_blank">who we exclude</a>." We adopted an entrepreneurial <a href="https://president.asu.edu/read/higher-logic" target="_blank">operating model</a> that moves at the speed of technological and social change. We have launched initiatives such as <a href="https://www.instride.com/how-it-works/" target="_blank">InStride</a>, a platform for delivering continuing education to learners already in the workforce. We developed our own robust technological capabilities in ASU <a href="https://edplus.asu.edu/" target="_blank">EdPlus</a>, a hub for research and development in digital learning that, even before the current crisis, allowed us to serve more than 45,000 fully online students. We have also created partnerships with other forward-thinking institutions in order to mutually strengthen our capabilities for educational accessibility and quality; this includes our role in co-founding the <a href="https://theuia.org/" target="_blank">University Innovation Alliance</a>, a consortium of 11 public research universities that share data and resources to serve students at scale. </p> <p>For ASU, and universities like ASU, the "new normal" of a post-COVID world looks surprisingly like the world we already knew was necessary. Our record breaking summer 2020 <a href="https://asunow.asu.edu/20200519-sun-devil-life-summer-enrollment-sets-asu-record" target="_blank">enrollment</a> speaks to this. What COVID demonstrates is that we were already headed in the right direction and necessitates that we continue forward with new intensity and, we hope, with more partners. In fact, rather than "new normal" we might just say, it's "go time." </p>
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.
- Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
- Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
- The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
These new status behaviours are what one expert calls 'inconspicuous consumption'.