Image: Kendall Hoopes


Brazil is not immune to tremors caused by geological faults

“It is not in resignation, but in rebellion in the face of injustices that we will assert ourselves” (Paulo Freire).

Part of a bundle of geological faults, aligned in the northeast direction, in a section of the hydrogeochemical map of the region of Vale do Paraíba and North Coast of the State of São Paulo (Campos, 1993).[1]

“The popularly called earthquakes, earthquakes or seismic shocks can be caused, in simple terms, by three different processes. They can occur due to the evolution of cavities in the subsoil through the dissolution of rocks by groundwater, causing subsidence or collapse in the form of catastrophic collapses such as those that occurred in 1986 in Cajamar (SP)”.

“Another type of earthquake may be associated with volcanic activities. A third type is motivated by the separation of continental plates that end up colliding with each other.”[2]

In addition to these three types mentioned, a fourth type could be added, such as those earthquakes that occurred in the last week of August 2020 “(…) in the Recôncavo Baiano region, which reached up to 4,6 on the Richter Scale. The images of merchandise falling from the shelves of a supermarket in this area of ​​the earthquakes were frightening. In the city of São Miguel das Matas, houses hit by the tremors showed several cracks.

The geological faults when reactivated are the main responsible for the earthquakes.

Although the Paraíba Valley and the North Coast of the State of São Paulo are about 2.000 km away from this region, there is a common factor between them, which is the northeast direction in which the geological faults are aligned, even if they represent geological compartments and distinct seismogenic zones.

Keeping the due reservations mentioned, about the geological compartments and distinct seismogenic zones, for the regions of Recôncavo Baiano, Vale do Paraíba, Litoral Norte and adding in this scenario, Praia de Itaorna in Angra dos Reis (RJ), we could think, of in a very simplified way, that all these regions would be located on a large avenue, with alignments of geological faults in a northeast direction.

In the 1970s and 80s of the last century, the question being asked was whether the military government installed by the 1964 coup was concerned with geological studies of this type, which warned of seismogenic zones, given that Praia de Itaorna was built, along with Over the years, the nuclear plants of Angra 1, 2 and 3.[3]

On the other hand, I recently saw the professor at the University of São Paulo, the philosopher Marilena Chauí, in an interview on TV. She referred to the cynicism and cruelty of the redemptive messiah of the last federal government with her famous “so what?”, leaving as one of her legacies, for the country of jaboticaba, neo-fascism and the extreme right with its little sleeves hanging out.

The destruction of institutions, including universities, with the handing over of this important public asset to the private sector to call the shots and dictate the rules of the game, seems to have been put on the table during this period. Social movements, in their most different forms of action, can and have the strength to stop this harmful and deceitful trend that has occurred, mainly, in public universities with the application of the recipe of “scrap to privatize” and “divide and govern”.

Could it be that, in a macabre hypothesis, if a nuclear accident had occurred in Angra dos Reis (RJ) due to an earthquake, during the military government that existed from 2019 to 2022, the populations that inhabit this municipality and region would have heard a resounding “ So what?”, what was it like during a long time of the coronavirus pandemic and without a vaccine?

Unfortunately, this hypothesis cannot be ruled out. But, as we once again have a government that values ​​dialogue and democracy, it is expected that the Angrense population has sufficient training to know where they should go in case of any geological misfortune because, unless I better judge, the Ubatubense who lives around 160 km away from this region you may not know what to do or where to go. Earthquakes, so what?

* Heraldo Campos, a geologist, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Hydraulics and Sanitation at the School of Engineering of São Carlos-USP.


[1] (Campos, 1993)

[2] Earthquakes and teeth. Archive of 26/09/1993. Folha Vale Notebook.

[3] Avenida Itaorna

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