Normally, most people cannot feel earthquakes under 5.0 Richter, and since there are tens of thousands of them per year, we typically suppress their display in applications like KLIPSPRINGER and KUDUS. However, our predictive model takes note of even such minor seismic events. Our internal software that monitors a real-time feed observed an anomalous cluster of seismic events near the disputed Eritrea-Ethiopia border. Many readers will point out this area is part of the Great African Rift so it would be more remarkable if there were no earthquakes as the continent is slowly torn apart. True enough. What was remarkable was so many earthquakes in such a small area in such a short time. We would scarcely expect a repetition, but this was how the now-infamous swarm of events started near Eastern Honshu Japan. There was a valiant and elegant-looking hypothesis formulated that the distance in time and space between two earthquakes ought to vary proportional to their Richter strengths. One could have two or three 5.0s seconds apart and virtually on top of each other, but there should never been two 9.0s. As it turns out, tuples (two or more similar earthquakes) are fairly common in many regions - so much so that we altered the probability calculations to be aware of that. Eritrea and Ethiopia shared a pair of very close 5.7s. On thinner ice, so as to speak, we had been doing a covariance analysis to determine if there was a predictable relationship between major seismic events (7.5 Richter or more) and subsequent significant volcanic eruptions. In view of the 8.8 that smacked Chile last year Puyahue was on our short list of possible future eruptions. Most volcanic eruptions are relatively harmless - no offense to Madame Pele, but nowadays it is rare for people to be killed in large numbers by lava, lahars and pyroclastic flows. A Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) 5 event like Toba or Tambura is thankfully rare - depending on location, planetary climate can be changed. In between we have the problem of ash clouds. Puyahue has caused problems in Chile, as should be expected, as well as for the great cities of Buenos Aires in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay. We had hoped Australia and especially New Zealand would be spared.
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