India: A ”mega earthquake” is likely to strike the Himalayas this century, causing catastrophic landslides and floods and killing more than 40,000 people, Indian and US geologists have warned.
Brian Tucker, president of GeoHazards International, an organisation that works to improve the seismic safety of Bhutan, northern India, Nepal and Pakistan, said to prevent large-scale damage, new hospitals and schools should be designed and built to be resistant to earthquakes, and existing buildings should be strengthened, as well as “developing and enforcing appropriate land use plans and modern building codes”.
Scientists from the National Geophysical Research Institute of India and Stanford University, United States, analysed the fault that separates the Asian and Indian continental plates.
Images of the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT) fault showed that a segment of it dips downwards by 15 degrees, and is steeper and further north than suggested by previous observations. This dip could rupture and cause an earthquake of magnitude 8 or more, often referred to as a mega earthquake.
The researchers predict that the segment will break over a larger area of the fault and create a larger magnitude earthquake than previously thought.
“The larger the area of the fault that breaks, the more energy is released, and the larger the magnitude of the earthquake,” said Simon Klemperer, professor of geophysics at Stanford University and co-author of the work.
“It will happen — the question is when. I would be very surprised if we didn”t have a magnitude 8 earthquake somewhere along the Himalayan Front this century.”
Source: SciDev Net