As I watched the disaster from the earthquake and tsunami unfolding within the area around the northwestern end of Sumatra, it brought into focus the common humanity we feel when geologic events overpower man and his developments.
Albert Schweitzer once said, "We wander through this life together in a semi-darkness in which none of us can distinguish exactly the features of his neighbor. Only from time to time, through some experience that we have of our companion, or through some remark that he passes, he stands for a moment close to us, as though illuminated by a flash of lightning. Then we see him as he really is."
The tsunami disaster was that type of "moment" when we all saw our neighbors clearly, and grieved for mankind and were awed by the earth's power.
AAPG's leadership felt that, especially as a geoscience society, we should develop a planned response to the recent tsunami disaster. We decided that it was important to consider both humanitarian help and scientific issues. The plan is designed to provide information and raise awareness of opportunities to help and educate.
The plan is in six parts:
The first part of the plan was to announce the AAPG Executive Committee response on the Web site and provide links to reputable organization for cash donations.
The EXPLORER is the focus of the plan's second part. AAPG's communications staff is developing stories on the tsunami disaster to discuss science and human needs (see February EXPLORER). We hope we can raise awareness by the membership of any activities that will help educate the public on geohazards.
We also will solicit information about the effects on production facilities in the region.
The third part is designed to solicit papers in the BULLETIN about the effects of tsunamis on ancient and modern coastal environments. I know as geologists, many of us were interested in the aerial photographs that showed the changes to coastal bars and distributaries. Although less dramatic, we also will solicit papers for the BULLETIN that evaluate and discuss the effects, if any, of earthquakes on petroleum geology in Malaysia, Indonesia and India.
In addition to BULLETIN articles, Datapages is producing a set of geohazard maps that will be available on CD-ROM.
Fourth, the headquarters staff asked the leadership of the Asia-Pacific Region about ways AAPG can help, such as offering to help affiliated/associated societies in the Asia-Pacific Region in providing tsunami education and replacement of science books.
We already have contacted local experts for advice on how AAPG can help develop and promote tsunami education.
For example, last year AAPG gave the Halbouty Human Needs award to Hugh Davies for his work on tsunami education in Papua New Guinea. We are currently in contact with Davies to discuss ways that AAPG can help promote similar programs.
Fifth, the EC approved an employee matching fund program to contribute to tsunami emergency funds. Also, we will approach AAPG's Foundation to jointly help with contributions.
Finally, AAPG has notified sister societies of its actions and asked them to join in developing a united response to tsunami disaster.
One frustrating thing about geology is knowing that something will eventually take place without the ability to accurately predict a time and place within a short time scale. We may not be able to predict the hour, but certainly we can respond within a short time.
AAPG gives its sincere condolences to those directly and/or indirectly hurt by the tsunami tragedy. We are looking for ways to help. If you have any questions about the program, or other ideas about ways we can respond as a society, please send an e-mail to email@example.com.