Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Seismology: The sleeping dragon

A Correction to this article was published on 27 May 2009

The great Sichuan earthquake of 12 May 2008 caught Earth scientists off guard. A year on, Alexandra Witze reports from the shattered towns on how researchers have learned from their failures.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Burchfiel, B. C., Chen, Z., Liu, Y. & Royden, L. H. Int. Geol. Rev. 37, 661–735 (1995).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Zhang, P.-Z. et al. Geology 32, 809–812 (2004).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Burchfiel, B. C. et al. GSA Today 18, 4–11 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Parsons, T., Chen, J. & Kirby, E. Nature 454, 509–510 (2008).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Toda, S., Lin, J., Meghraoui, M. & Stein, R. S. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, L17305 (2008).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Cui, P. et al. Nat. Hazards advance online publication doi:10.1007/s11069-009-9392-1 (2009).

  7. Courtland, R. Nature 453, 146–148 (2008).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


Additional information

See Editorial, page 140

Alexandra Witze is Nature's chief of correspondents for America. Additional reporting by Jane Qiu, Nature's retained correspondent in Beijing.

Related links

Related links

Related external links

China Earthquake Administration

China Geological Survey

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Witze, A. Seismology: The sleeping dragon. Nature 459, 153–157 (2009).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing