EARTHQUAKES | Why Your Phone Shouldn’t Cost the Earth | Ep #6 | AXA Research Fund


This is the bicep-busting Muscle Beach in Venice, Los Angeles. But why is it here? In 1933, an earthquake destroyed most of the gyms
in the town. Oh, excuse me. So the athletes
flocked down to the beach to train in safety. And this legendary location
of the oiled-up six-pack was born. Okay, come on. Three, two– Yeah, you’re good. Yeah, sure. Earthquakes are still
a regular part of life here in California. And I’ve heard a story
that your phone could be making things worse. So, to find out more,
I’m off on a road trip. I want to know what are the chances
of an earthquake happening while I’m here. I’m going to give
AXA supported researcher, Thomas Chartier, a call. Hey, Thomas.
So, what are the odds of an earthquake happening
over the next few days? You’re actually really close
to the San Andreas Fault right now. And California has roughly
10,000 quakes per year. Hold on, that’s over 190 a week. That’s right, and we are due
a big one soon. Okay… My research is all about making sure we are as safe and as ready
as we can possibly be. Great, nice one. Thanks Thomas.
– Good luck, Greg. This is where I’ve been heading,
up into the mountains of California, to chat to one of the top
earthquake geologists in the world, Professor Kerry Sieh. What I do is paleoseismology. So I look at earthquakes in the past. And those ancient earthquakes
tell me how an individual fault behaves. So, does it produce
small earthquakes? Does it produce large earthquakes? Then I can actually inform
the communities nearby, “Here’s what you should expect, and here’s how often
you should expect it”. Where and when
is the next big one going to hit? I’m guessing it’ll be here, for sure. This is an earthquake simulator, and it’s used to help locals
learn how to react when an earthquake hits. So, does it look like
a big one could strike soon? To figure that out, we’ve had to look back
1,000 or 10,000 years at earthquake histories. We know that the San Andreas moves
every couple of hundred years, and it’s now been 170 or so
since the last one. What I really want to know though,
is how can your mobile phone cause an earthquake? That’s a bit out of the expertise of somebody who looks into
the geological past. It’s more a question of how man can actually
cause earthquakes. So for that, I think
you better talk to Georgios. Hey, Georgios.
– Hi, Greg. So, what causes man-made earthquakes? And what is the connection
with our phones? Mobile phones and tablets
use rare-earth minerals, and the mining of these,
along with oil and gas, causes earthquakes. Okay. The injection
of high-pressure wastewater pushes out the minerals, putting existing quake faults under even more pressure. So, human activity
in the Earth’s crust causes earthquakes? That’s right. My work is about understanding
these risks so that our actions are much safer. Awesome, thanks Georgios.
– Bye bye. Very, very interesting. I’m just going to take that. It’s for your own good, guys. Looking good. Yeah, lovely. Look, we need this,
no more earthquakes. Thanks very much, see you. So you might be saying
“Hey Greg, look, I live nowhere near
an earthquake zone, this doesn’t bother me”. But, more and more mines
are being built every day, so soon, you might be. But the good news is,
we’re talking man-made earthquakes, so we can do the research, and change the way that we do things. And there are other ways to help. We can work with manufacturers
to improve their recycling schemes, we can decide to not jump on
buying a brand new phone as soon as it comes out
when we’ve only just got the old one. I mean, smart phones
are good to have, but they shouldn’t cost the Earth.

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