The Tangshan Earthquake happened in 1976 is considered to be one of the large-scale earthquakes of the past century. Occurred on July, 28, the quake had a magnitude of 7.5, about 15 km of focal depth, and an epi-centric intensity of XI in accordance with New Chinese Intensity Scale (Fang, 1979, n. p.). The natural disaster caused significant damages to the densely-populated city that lost about 250000 lives. Today the city has been totally reconstructed and renewed.
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Tangshan is situated in the northern part of People’s Chinese Republic, 150 km east to Beijing. The seismologists had paid close attention to the region because it had characteristics typical of the places producing significant earthquakes.
In addition, the past record proved a seriously high seismic activity of the Northern China, like the earthquake happened in 1815 that marked the start of continuous anomalies in future (Fang, 1979, n. p.). Tectonic movement had been specifically intense since 1972 in the northern China and they revealed in the form of minor earthquakes.
In 1973, anomalous surface deformation, telluric currents, increased ratio of radon in water, and geomagnetism were observed at stations situated near Beijing and in southern Liaoning Province (Fang, 1979, n. p). The 1975 Haicheng Earthquake was the first marker of gradual and continuous intensification of tectonic activity in the identified region. In addition, seismologists are still debating on the reasons and preconditions of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake because no exact conclusions have been drawn on this issue.
It should be admitted, however, that certain anomalies, such as strange animal behavior and significant fluctuations of the groundwater level had been observed several days before the disaster, but these phenomena had not been taken into consideration because they were recognized as insignificant for a short-term prediction.
After the earthquake, mostly all structures were totally destroyed, including buildings that suffered serious damages as well. Bridging constructions were destroyed and rails were totally disrupted (Fang, 1979, n. p.). All these ruins and disruptions spread over 8 km in diameter, trending northeast. Most of the dwelling houses were also severely damaged; about half of industrial constructions were destroyed and some irrigation mechanisms ceased to operate. All disruptions and collapses were largely affected by ground matters.
Considering economical and political situation in 1970s, it should be stressed that the government paid little attention to scientific development. Insufficient research on tectonic plates in this particular region was one of the main causes of failure to assess the seismic activity in Tangshan before the disaster (Fang, 1979, n. p.).
In this respect, lack of finance and government’s ignorance of situation contributed partially to the tragedy. The economic situation before the earthquake was largely controlled by the Communist Party under the regime of the Chairman Mao Zedong who failed to consider this issue properly. The government did not provide the population with sufficient earthquake protection shemes because it was more concerned with the mining activities taking place in the region (Geological Society of America, 2007, p. 393).
In whole, lack of reliable and effective techniques and scientific methodology and focus on coal-mining activity contributed to greater losses and damages during the earthquake. After the tragedy, the Chinese office was taken by Liu Shaoqi who introduced a number of economic reforms that partially improved the situation in the sphere of science.
Fang, W. (1979). The 1979 Tangshan Earthquake. Science for A Changing World. Web.
Geological Society of America. (2007). Continental Intraplate Earthquakes: Science, Hazard, and Policy Issues. US: Geological Society of America.