London, September 1 : The May 12 earthquake in Sichuan, China, that claimed the lives of more than 65,000 people, has forced geologists to think that similar regions may also be in danger and that seismic hazard maps should be redrawn as a result.
According to a report in New Scientist, a coalition of geologists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Chengdu Institute of Geology and Mineral Resources, Sichuan, is thinking to redraw the seismic hazard maps.
Using historical, geological and GPS records, the scientists modelled movements in the Earth's crust that led to the quake.
This shows that although the crust in the region is being compressed very slowly, at around 1 millimeter per year, strain had been building for over 1500 years.
For Sichuan province, they calculate that the next big earthquake is not due for at least 2000 years. But, for other regions with similar mountainous slopes, a large earthquake could be just around the corner.
The team has highlighted the edge of the Tibetan plateau as one such region.
According to Clark Burchfiel at MIT, who is the lead author of the paper, "We need to re-evaluate the criteria we use for assessing earthquake hazard."