Parts of Indian Himalayan region vulnerable to major quakes

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Himalayas
Hyderabad, July 18: Parts of the Indian Himalayan region are facing the risk of major earthquakes in the future, according to a study conducted by city-based National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI).

"The conclusion was reached, following seismic imaging (similar to human body imaging) of the Kumaon-Garhwal region in Uttarakhand for the purpose of the study," Shyam Rai, Chief Scientist (Seismic Tomography), who led the team of NGRI scientists, said.

The study, also contributed by Stanford University of United States, was conducted from April, 2005 to June, 2008 as sought by the Union government and the initial report was submitted in 2010.

However, complete details regarding seismic imaging and other aspects of the study were found out subsequently. Asked if recent heavy rains in Uttarakhand were anyway related to the findings, he replied in the negative, but said they are coupled systems.

"Uttarakhand was chosen because space measurements were available, which show that the strain build-up is maximum in this area. So, the chance of having an earthquake also is maximum. So, they wanted to know where the earthquakes are occurring. Also, in Kumaon, there was a major earthquake in 1803," Rai said.

Quoting from British Gazettes of the date, he said the effects of the 1803 quake were felt right up to Lucknow. "If nothing bigger, even if that has to occur now, with this whole bunch of new constructions and dams and large population, the effect would be far more severe. It is in this context, the government decided that we should have a proper monitoring," Rai said.

He further added that several destructive earthquakes had occurred along the part of Indian Himalayan belt – from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. Geophysicists found that 90 per cent of earthquakes were concentrated along a line that passes through Badrinath, Kedarnath and goes up to north-west Himalayas. NGRI, under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is the country's largest research and development organization.

PTI

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