IIT-Kanpur alarms about chances of large magnitude earthquakes in Northwest Himalayas

Kanpur: The latest research by IIT Kanpur experts on earthquakes has revealed that the potential of the occurrence of a large magnitude earthquake in foothill zone of Northwest Himalaya (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) along the Himalayan Frontal Thrust (HFT) cannot be ruled out. The research done will help towards proper evaluation of seismic hazards in Kangra as well as in Indo- Gangetic Plain.

Recent research in Central Himalaya revealed that no large magnitude earthquake has occurred since last 700 years, considering the long silence, a great earthquake may be due in this region. “If such an earthquake occur in the foothill zone of Nanital, it would affect areas in a distance of minimum 250 kilometers. The affected areas would be West and Central Uttar Pradesh hitting Lucknow and Kanpur as well”, said Prof Javed N Malik of IIT Kanpur who conducted the research.
The research also unfolds that the accumulated strain during the earthquake of 1905 in Kangra was released along Kangra Valley Fault and not along Himalayan Frontal Thrust. The new research alarms that there exists strong chances of large magnitude earthquakes in the foothills of Northwest Himalayas, stated Prof. Javed N Malik of earth science department of IIT-Kanpur who conducted the research. Considering the historical documents and earthquakes occurred during 20th Century such as 1555 Kashmir (Magnitude 7.6), 1905 Kangra (M 7.8), 1934 Nepal-Bihar (M 8.1) and 1950 Assam (M 8.4), three major ‘Seismic Gaps’ had been identified between Kashmir and Uttaranchal, Uttaranchal and Nepal/Bihar, and Nepal/Bihar and Northeast.

 The research carried out by Prof. Javed N. Malik and his team revealed that several active faults exist between these gaps, which are capable of producing large magnitude damaging earthquakes. The April 4 1905 Kangra earthquake (M 7.8), was one of the devastative earthquakes that killed more than 20,000 people and destroyed the towns of Kangra and Dharamshala in northwest Himalaya

The latest research by Prof. Malik and his team, published in Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America in October 2015, suggested that the 1905 Kangra earthquake did not rupture in the frontal part of Himalaya along the HFT as claimed by the researchers earlier. “Since the accumulated energy (strain) during the 1905 Kangra earthquake was released along the newly discovered Kangra Valley Fault (KVF), potential for large-magnitude earthquakes in northwest Himalaya along the HFT still remains”, said Prof Malik while talking to TOI. He said that in view of present research findings it is quite possible that if a large magnitude earthquake (M 7.5-8.0) occurs along HFT, it will cause severe damage to the neighbouring cities/towns in states such as Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and parts of West Uttar Pradesh.

 He also mentioned that the recent earthquakes in Nepal (Gorkha M7.8 and Kodari M7.3) testify the ongoing collision between Indian and Eurasian Plates. This ongoing collision is causing accumulation of strain along the active faults, which if released could result in occurrence of large magnitude earthquake in the foothill zone of Nainital (Central Himalaya).
TNN
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