The Saurashtra University and Indian Institute of Geo-Magnetism (IIG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week, which may prove to be a boon for the earthquake-prone Saurashtra-Kutch region.
According to the MoU, signed for 15 years, a highly advanced geo-magnetic laboratory will be set up in the SU campus to monitor the magnetic field, which will be helpful in predicting seismic activities.
The laboratory will be equipped with highly sensitive instruments capable of measuring even the slightest movement under the earth’s surface. As of now, eight geo-magnetic laboratories are functioning in India. However, in earthquake-prone Gujarat, this will be a one-of-its-kind laboratory.
According to the MoU, SU has given five acres of land adjacent to the Physics department on a token rate to IIG, which will set up a laboratory at a cost of around Rs 1 crore. The proximity will encourage students, who will be given free access to the laboratory, said Physics department Professor K N Iyer. He added that the IIG wanted to establish a centre in the region because many parts of the Saurashtra-Kutch region were in seismic zone 5 — the highly earthquake-prone area.
SU sources added that following the availability of laboratory facilities, the university will introduce a course on geo-magnetism at the post-graduate level. Top officials said that the course would take time, but from next year, students of the physics department will be allowed to perform experiments at the laboratory.
After the January 2001 earthquake, the IIG, with the support of the Science and Technology Department of the Government of India, had also installed a GPS, which was linked with the satellite at the Department of Electronics, SU, to study the changes in earth magnetism and particularly, tectonic movements. The GPS studies the position of the crust slides and can be useful in finding the cause of the earthquake.