India, Nepal At Risk For Another Strong Earthquake

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It looks like there’s a good chance the “big one”, a major 8.0+ magnitude earthquake, will hit in the Western Himalayas in the next few months or years. Unfortunately, geologists are saying that the most recent seismic data from the area suggests there’s a good chance another powerful will shock the India – Nepal border region in the relatively near future.

The researchers say it’s the classic good news – bad news situation. The good news is that the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25th, which killed almost 9,000 people in Nepal and nearby countries, could have been much worse. The tectonic plate stress finally broke the fault at an epicenter close to 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu, causing most of the energy to travel to the east, and only opened the fault’s shorter eastern stretch, according to two studies published Thursday in the academic journals Nature Geoscience and Science Magazine.

According to earthquake specialists, this means that the pressure on the tectonic plates has shifted westward, increasing the chance that the much larger western edge of the fault will slip, which could lead to the worst case scenario earthquake in the border area

More on need to monitor for signs of “big one” on the India – Nepal Border

The new study shows that wile the longer western expanse of the Nepal b- India fault remains locked for now, researchers argue it now “calls for special attention.” They point out that the now stress-strained area, which stretches for close to 500 miles from Kathmandu to northwest of New Delhi, has not seen a major earthquake since 1505, when an earthquake estimated at 8.5 on the Richter Scale struck. Luckily there were very few people around at that time, so casualties were minimal.

Of concern, the recent seismic studies indicate that a portion of the energy released in the April earthquake moved to west, adding to the pent-up energy along this section of the fault, and quite likely “facilitating future ruptures.”

Statement from lead researcher

Professor Jean-Philippe Avouac, from the University of Cambridge, who authored the report, notes: “This is a place that needs attention, and if we had an earthquake today, it would be a disaster because of the density of population not just in western Nepal but also in northern India.”

More on April Nepal earthquake

The April 25th earthquake in Nepal might not have been the big one, but it was big and bad enough. Close to 9,000 people were killed in the quake and its aftershocks, and tens of thousands were injured and/or left homeless.

As reported by ValueWalk in early May, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory deployed two prototype microwave-radar FINDER devices to Nepal to support search and rescue teams in earthquake-stricken areas the week after the devastating temblor.

FINDER has shown in earlier tests that it can detect people buried under up to 30 feet of soil or rubble, hidden behind 20 feet of solid concrete, and from a distance of over 100 feet in open spaces. A “locator” feature now provides search and rescue responders with confirmation of a heartbeat and the approximate location of trapped people (accuracy is within around five feet depending on the rubble).

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