23 May DISTRESS & DELIGHT OF GEOSCIENCE
DISTRESS & DELIGHT OF GEOSCIENCE
UGC-EF, DEPT OF GEOLOGY, UNIV. OF KERALA
KARIAVATTOM CAMPUS 695 581
After the deadly hit of the Banda Aceh or the Indonesian tsunami (of Dec.26, 2004) and the consequent loss of a few hundred thousand lives even in the southern east and west coast of Indian peninsula that the general public across the world and those in affected territories had firsthand testimony of the instant might of a geological phenomenon like tsunami-genic earthquake (9 in Richter scale).
By far the earthquakes are more frequent, unpredictable and hence inflict surprise hits on the life and property of public. On land EQs trigger collateral disasters like landslides, damming of river flow, breakdown of transport infrastructure like bridges and roadways, silting and flooding of farmlands, and leveling of mountain foot communities.
The other category of processes (e.g. Volcanic eruption, floods etc.) causing distress are more or less predictable and perhaps more slow in their manifestation allowing caution, warning and readiness for evacuation or temporary relocation to safer quarters. Of late, the volcanic eruption – relatively a far slower process than EQs- started affecting even the air traffic, as the far travelling volcanic glassy abrasive ash could potentially damage jet engines eight miles into the sky.
The earth bound population however has time to escape the volcanic eruption caused emergency, as the respective Disaster Management Agencies can bounce into quick action. Coastal flooding (due to storm surges and storm crossings), river floods (monsoon floods in northern Indian Gangetic plain states) and rarely riverine flooding due to dam breaks also wreak havoc. Hydrological droughts do cause misery, starvation and death to large number of people (for e.g., some sub-Saharan nations).
For bold examples of delight attributable to geosciences can be seen in many of the nations deeply endowed with mineral fuels, metallic ores, industrial minerals, and precious metals, which have evolved into industrial and /or financial powerhouses. At least, as a nation India’s proven reserves of oil and gas, ores precious metals like Platinum, gold, silver, or metals like copper, lead and zinc are far lower than our ever growing demand and consequently we depend on imports.
Despite the large reserves, we continue to depend on imported coal. The story of oil and gas is no different and the economic boom in the country makes the oil import bill as well as user price of petrol/diesel at the pump to sky rocket. In respect of Industrial minerals as well as various categories rocks for construction and manufacturing of aggregates the picture is quite encouraging anyway. India happens to be the second largest manufacturer of Portland cement – a primary input in the building of a variety of national infrastructures and followed by periodic maintenance.
Geoscience is a hybrid science making use of the advances in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, statistics and mathematics and satellite remote sensing. The avenues for higher studies and specialized research in Geoscience are several leading to highly fruitful and rewarding careers nationally and globally. With the rising population and the nations obligation to meet the aspirations of the public, the search and hunt for new sources of ores, precious metal ores, industrial minerals and mineral fuels are imperative.
The senior researchers, teachers in colleges and universities and geo-professionals have to strive hard to maintain the excitement and joy of doing geosciences in the younger and brighter minds. Exactly, this is the force that brought me to your fore.