The entire Himalayan region is on the verge of producing a sequence of big earthquakes, with the next big earthquake coming at a magnitude of 8 or above, which may come in our lifetime itself. A study reviewing geological, historical and geophysical data confirmed the same.
The toll on human life in the densely populated countries across the region is likely to be unprecedented as a result of these earthquakes, say the researchers.
The study reveals that the sequence of the future earthquakes might be similar to the great earthquakes along the Aleutian subduction zone in the twentieth century along the Aleutian subduction zone.
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The study, which appeared in the Seismological Research Letters’ journal in August, used some of the basic geological principles, namely; stratigraphic analysis, structural analysis, soils analysis, and radiocarbon analysis, to estimate the size and timing of prehistoric earthquakes and evaluate future risk.
The author of the study, Steven G Wesnousky, a professor of geology and seismology and director of the Center for Neotectonic Studies at the University of Nevada, speaking to a leading news agency said that the entire Himalayan arc which extends from the eastern boundary of Arunachal Pradesh (India) in the east to Pakistan in the west has been a source of great earthquakes in the past.
Wesnousky further added that earthquakes of these kind will be occurring again, and scientifically it won’t be a surprise if the next big earthquake comes in our lifetimes itself.
Studies in the past have examined the rate of strain accumulation that has been occurring along the Himalayan region from satellite observations, while the latest study defines the timing and size of most recent prehistoric earthquakes from geology.
Wesnousky says that the methodology used here applies geological principles to define the past size and timings of earthquake recorded by broken sediments at sites along the length of the Himalayan Frontal Thrust.
Wesnousky further explained that some of the major cities along the Himalayan Frontal Thrust are Chandigarh and Dehradun in India and Kathmandu in Nepal, but strong and damaging shakes in such big earthquakes could extend to as far as India’s capital, Delhi.
The North Indian region has witnessed a number of earthquakes of smaller magnitudes in the past four months, raising speculations about a big one in the region.
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