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Deep-Sea Geohazards in the South China Sea

Wu, Wang, and Volker’s article Deep-Sea Geohazards in the South China Sea
(Journal of Ocean University China, 2018) detailed the different hazardous processes
and features that can occur at very great depths. Examples of such are submarine
landslides, gas hydrates, shallow gas, shallow water flows, and tectonically active faults
and tsunamis. They highlighted the various implications of each of the geohazard in
relation to deepwater oil and gas field exploration. Numerous historical disastrous
events that led to the ”full-speed advances” in deep-sea geohazards studies were
mentioned to emphasize on its significance. The authors synthesized previous works on
the topic with regard to the South China Sea and provided insights on the reduction of
geological risks in the area.
The study of active tectonics involves not just the process and forms but also the
impact it poses on communities and, consequently, ways to reduce such risk. For as
long as there are hazards, the studies involving them will always be relevant, especially
in the Philippines. Explorations for exploitable resources have been conducted in the
South China Sea, and the Philippines is no stranger to such endeavors and the
geological and anthropogenic risks along with them. The archipelago is bounded by two
oppositely dipping subduction zones which, we know, house some very potent
earthquakes, add to this the deep-sea geohazards present in South China Sea, and the
result is a highly vulnerable state.
This article exhibits that when dealing with the extraction, exploration, or even
exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources, hazards cannot be isolated and they
always go hand in hand. Personally, I think this is nature’s way of reacting, that if it were
alive, its defense mechanisms manifest in what we perceive as natural disasters.
Having knowledge of the history of the Earth, the very short amount of time humans
have roamed this land does not permit us to recklessly and egotistically ravage the
resources. Humans, I felt, have always felt entitled to whatever their eyes can see and
that their aggressive approach to self-preservation led to the detriment of the planet,
causing adverse effects that some deem irreversible.
This leads me to how I view myself in the geosciences community. I have nothing
against the people in the industry, nor the industry itself, rather it is the means of
acquisition that irks me. Whenever I think of being part of the industry, I stop and ask
myself: “will industrialization really lead to better lives?” This grand endeavor, in its core,
requires the materials that come about the natural resources we discover and process,
and leads to the invention of different machines that aids us in our daily lives making
things easier for everyone, or so they say. But how much of the Earth must we sacrifice
for our convenience? In the grand scheme of things, long after humans are gone (or
extinct), who knows how we can transfer all the knowledge and experiences our kind
has cultivated and preserved to the next thinking species. My greatest fear is oblivion –
leaving this great Earth without a single trace, without a contribution to humankind. I
want the efforts of our kind to be sustainable, and best for everything involved (man and
nature). It is through the interaction of man and nature that our identity as a race was
molded, and we attribute our experience to this very clash, and I think we owe nature so
much that its preservation must always come before ours.
The interaction of man and nature is never-ending and I resolved into fostering
an environment where the two can be in harmony and I think it is through the study of
hazards that this can be achieved, and on a more personal note, this will put my mind at
ease, relatively. Reading papers such as this invokes hope rather than fear. I am not
one to judge the accuracy of the paper, but the manner of presentation was sensible,
that providing background of different geohazards before dwelling on those observed in
the South China Sea proved to be a smooth read. Being a compilation of previous
works, we can see the extent of the problem, that these are not just isolated cases.
This article, as I’ve said multiple times, is of paramount importance and having a
good flow would make it easily digestible for others, despite the technicalities of the
methods, and in effective science communication, that trait is highly regarded.