Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Breaking news: Credit Crunch Saves Costas

By Nik Morton

They say every cloud has a silver lining and it seems that this is true even where the credit crunch is concerned. The Costas of Southern Spain are likely to benefit, at least, according to a scientific study published today.

Avril Loof, 37, of the Tectonic and Seismic Institute, Valencia, says that the recent collapse of several building consortiums in Spain means that her team’s calculations will have to be revised.

‘We first encountered the Tipping Point issue about five years ago. If the trend of building had continued at its 2003 pace, we predicted that the massive weight of concrete would have a catastrophic effect on coastal Southern Spain.’

The northern plates of the Iberian peninusla are pushing against the Pyrenees, raising the earth about 1mm every year. ‘But,’ says Loof, ‘in 2003 we noted that the rise was accelerating and measuring just over +2mm.’ None of their computer models could account for this phenomenon, as there was no increase in seismic activity. In fact, quite the reverse. The frequency and strength of the earth tremors in Spain and Portugal had lessened every year.

‘There was one inescapable conclusion,’ she says. ‘The massive weight of concrete being poured on the land along the coast was tipping the southern part of Spain into the Mediterranean. Our studies over five years had pointed to publishing a cautious alert this year, with particular emphasis on the La Manga area. However, in the last eight months, as building work has drastically reduced, we have recorded a settling for the first time.’

Apparently, settling is where the tectonic plate readjusts and stays more or less static. It remains to be seen whether the peninsula plate will seesaw again when the building industry recovers from the current financial difficulties.

‘In the meantime,’ Miss Loof says, ‘this hiatus offered by the settling has given us time to conduct further important tests. The problem has not gone away. Perhaps lighter concrete may be the answer.’


  1. Surely her name is April and not Avril ?


  2. Ah, Rob - Avril is a girl's name and is also French for April...

  3. See-sawing Costas
    Nik Morton’s breaking news report (April 1st) about the ‘see-sawing Costas’ was intriguing. I checked out the published study, and sure enough, the unstoppable Avril Loof has been rocking the world again with her break-through research. Dr Loof has always been interested in tectonic and seismic tremors and shudders (I met up with her at an International Conference in Las Vegas a few years ago). However, she’s also fond of wearing high heels when she’s at work – and some scientists reckon she doesn’t always take that into consideration in her measurement calculations.
    Nevertheless, her recent observations are interesting, and the ‘tipping’ theory she proposes has a lot going for it. Here in the UK, I discussed this idea with colleagues at Hull University, who directed me to the Department of Theological and Physical Geography. They also reckon the ‘tipping see-saw’ is the most likely explanation. In which case there must be, under the middle of Spain, some huge ‘fulcrum’ over which the peninsula plate see-saws. And hence, as is often the case, we end up with a theological/architectural explanation.
    “God left his pencil underneath the width of Spain when He was designing Earth,” said one of the religious geologists. “That would also explain why Norway is such an odd shape,” added an even more religious architect. “Having lost His pencil, God never did any rough sketches first: He just made it up as He went along.”
    According to some very old, local geologists, there were, in previous centuries, extensive lead mines right across central Spain. Recent excavations have revealed many samples to be engraved with the symbol ‘2B’. So there may be some evidence for ‘God’s Pencil Fulcrum’ – and hence further support for the ‘see-saw’ effect.
    Geoff Lowe