Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More serious earthquakes predicted in the Himalayas

Date:
December 28, 2012
Source:
Nanyang Technological University
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that massive earthquakes in the range of 8 to 8.5 magnitudes on the Richter scale have left clear ground scars in the central Himalayas. This ground-breaking discovery has huge implications for the area along the front of the Himalayan Mountains, given that the region has a population density similar to that of New York City.

A research team led by scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has discovered that massive earthquakes in the range of 8 to 8.5 magnitudes on the Richter scale have left clear ground scars in the central Himalayas.

This ground-breaking discovery has huge implications for the area along the front of the Himalayan Mountains, given that the region has a population density similar to that of New York City.

NTU Professor Paul Tapponnier, who is recognised as a leading scientist in the field of neotectonics, said that the existence of such devastating quakes in the past means that quakes of the same magnitude could happen again in the region in future, especially in areas which have yet to have their surface broken by a temblor.

Published recently in Nature Geosciences, the study by NTU's Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) in Singapore and colleagues in Nepal and France, showed that in 1255 and 1934, two great earthquakes ruptured the surface of the earth in the Himalayas. This runs contrary to what scientists have previously thought.

Massive earthquakes are not unknown in the Himalayas, as quakes in 1897, 1905, 1934 and 1950 all had magnitudes between 7.8 and 8.9, each causing tremendous damage. But they were previously thought not to have broken the earth's surface -- classified as blind quakes -- which are much more difficult to track.

However, Prof Tapponnier said that by combining new high resolution imagery and state of the art dating techniques, they could show that the 1934 earthquake did indeed rupture the surface, breaking the ground over a length of more than 150 kilometres, essentially south of the part of the range that harbours Mt Everest.

This break formed along the main fault in Nepal that currently marks the boundary between the Indian and Asian tectonic plates -- also known as the Main Frontal Thrust (MFT) fault.

Using radiocarbon dating of offset river sediments and collapsed hill-slope deposits, the research team managed to separate several episodes of tectonic movement on this major fault and pin the dates of the two quakes, about 7 centuries apart.

"The significance of this finding is that earthquakes of magnitude 8 to 8.5 may return at most twice per millennium on this stretch of the fault, which allows for a better assessment of the risk they pose to the surrounding communities," said Prof Tapponnier.

Prof Tapponnier warns that the long interval between the two recently discovered earthquake ruptures does not mean people should be complacent, thinking that there is still time before the next major earthquake happens in the region.

"This does not imply that the next mega-earthquake in the Himalayas will occur many centuries from now because we still do not know enough about adjacent segments of the MFT Mega-thrust," Prof Tapponier explains.

"But it does suggest that areas west or east of the 1934 Nepal ground rupture are now at greater risk of a major earthquake, since there are little or no records of when last earth shattering temblor happened in those two areas."

The next step for Prof Tapponnier and his EOS scientists is to uncover the full extent of such fault ruptures, which will then allow them to build a more comprehensive model of earthquake hazard along the Himalayan front.

About the NTU's Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS)

EOS is a premier research institute at NTU, Singapore, which conducts fundamental research on earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami and climate change in and around Southeast Asia, towards safer and more sustainable societies.

Funded by the National Research Foundation's Research Centres of Excellence programme, EOS and its field of research contributes greatly to NTU's research strengths in Sustainability, which is one of the university's Five Peaks of Excellence.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Nanyang Technological University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. N. Sapkota, L. Bollinger, Y. Klinger, P. Tapponnier, Y. Gaudemer, D. Tiwari. Primary surface ruptures of the great Himalayan earthquakes in 1934 and 1255. Nature Geoscience, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1669

Cite This Page:

Nanyang Technological University. "More serious earthquakes predicted in the Himalayas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121228084026.htm>.
Nanyang Technological University. (2012, December 28). More serious earthquakes predicted in the Himalayas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121228084026.htm
Nanyang Technological University. "More serious earthquakes predicted in the Himalayas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121228084026.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins