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Quakes & The Mountain Building Phase

The Indian seismologists have warned that an earthquake of magnitude 8.5 or more could rock the Himalayas and might trigger a disaster of a massive nature in South Asia. The American experts, too, have supported the Indian researchers’ findings, saying that India and neighbouring Nepal should be prepared to tackle such a big disaster!
Seismologist C P Rajendran of the Bengaluru-based Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research and his team recently carried out a study according to which a devastating tremor could rock the northern part of India at any time. The researchers claimed that “a great earthquake of magnitude 8.5 or more occurred between 1315 and 1440” in the central Himalayas. The quake had opened up a 600km parcel of land. Although the central Himalayas experiences frequent low-intensity earthquakes, no major temblor has taken place in the last few centuries. So, there is an enormous build-up of strain in the region. “An earthquake of magnitude 8.5 or more is overdue in this part of the Himalayas, given the long-elapsed time,” stressed Rajendran, the lead researcher.

Nepal quake 2015

The researchers prepared the study report, which has been published in Geological Journal, after evaluating existing databases along with the data from two newly explored locales – Mohana Khola in far western Nepal and Chorgalia in India. They actually tried to determine the timing of the last faulting event on the frontal thrust of the central Himalayas. “The pressure on Himalayan plates has increased for a long time. Part of the plate increases the pressure on another part for several hundred years. The ground floor reached the place where the pressure did not end. At least an 8.5-inch earthquake of Richter scale is just waiting for time,” said Rajendran.
It is to be noted that that magnitude of the earthquake that had struck Nepal on April 25, 2015 and claimed nearly 9,000 lives was 8.1. On January 26, 2001, the intra-plate Gujarat earthquake or the Bhuj earthquake reached 7.7 on the moment magnitude scale, killing between 13,805 and 20,023 people in India.

Bhuj quake 2001, India

Since 1440, the Asian mountain range – separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau – has never experienced such a devastating quake. Also, the pressure on the ground continues to increase. Now, the Himalayas will try to free itself from this pressure through a tremor in near future! According to experts, the catastrophe will have a great impact on the northern part of India. “Considering this potentially high seismic risk, this will be particularly catastrophic for a region marked by an ever-growing population and unhindered expansion of the built-up environment, to be contrasted with poor preparedness to meet this contingency,” Rajendran told the press.
Roger Bilham, the American geophysicist at the University of Colorado who laid the basis for the current knowledge about earthquakes in the Himalayan region through his works, supports the Indian researchers’ findings. “They are undeniably correct in concluding that should an earthquake occur now, its magnitude could equal 8.5. My own evaluation of the available evidence suggests their estimate is conservative, and should the rupture zone extend from east of Almora to west of Pockara (Nepal) the earthquake will exceed 8.7,” he said.

Meanwhile, some Indian geophysicists are of the opinion that this has been doing rounds for the last 10 years thanks to the elasticity rebound theory. According to them, this is the irony as micro predictions are not possible. However, they have admitted that we have to keep this warning in mind…

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