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Devastating Earthquake Predicted In Himalayas

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By Zafar Iqbal *

A devastating earthquake has been expected in Himalayan region stretching from Indian Administrated Kashmir to Northern Pakistani areas, a latest scientific research has revealed.

“The projected strike length of the fault would be 120 km which consists of 80 km strike length of the mapped fault and 40 k length from the implied portion,” forecasts Dr. A. A. Shah research fellow at the Earth Observatory Sciences (EOS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

The study ‘Earthquake geology of Kashmir Basin and its implications for future large earthquakes’ anticipates happening of magnitude 7.6 quake on this fault line.

Unearthing records of 13 major historical earthquakes in the valley over the last millennium, the study indicates that Kashmir Valley is a locus of active deformation. “There are a few active faults in the Kashmir Basin and which are capable to host a magnitute 7.6 earthquake, big enough to shake the entire valley”, it added.

An earthquake of similar magnitude struck Northern Pakistan and Kashmir regions in 2005 which killed at least 73,000 people.

Scientists believe that Himalayan region has witnessed frequent tremors and few prominent tragedies occurred in Kashmir in ~1555 and 1885-86. Recalling past geological changes the report concludes that “the active geomorphic evidences suggest that these historical events must have ruptured the surface that are now preserved as active fault scarps.”

The report says that the on-going collision deformation along the 2,000-km long Himalayan orogenic belt is distributed differently along the central and western portions of the belt.

The study concludes the fault trace could be continuous over a distance of 210 km and might connect on the west with the Balakot Bagh fault. Balakot is the second most affected city by 2005 disaster in Northern Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province.

However, the author was neither sure about geomorphic expression of this fault on the north-west, nor it found any evidence(s) of structural or topographic breaks, which could suggest that it is an adjacent structure.

It concludes that Kashmir Basin (KB) fault is an independent thrust, a possible ramp on the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT) that has uplifting the south-western (SW) portion of the KB and drowning everything to the north-east (NE) to it.

“Further than extending into the Kashmir Basin, the Balakot Bagh fault steps right and continues as the active Riasi Thrust based on the juxtaposition of similar bedrock along both faults,” it added.

The study found a clear geomorphic evidence of active thrusting in the Kashmir basin and possibility of a fault stepping. It also forecasts that Balakot Bagh may continue on the east as the Riasi Thrust and the Kashmir Basin fault.

The seismologist believes that the investigations will further unravel the earthquake chronology of the region where earthquake research is extremely important for hazard mitigation.

Dr. Shah recommends that strict building code must be imposed to promote earthquake resistant structures. Referring to the economic packages that Indian and Pakistan governments have offered for the rehabilitation of victims of past and recent Kashmir quakes, he says that unless the states are not equipped in understanding the earthquakes and building necessary earthquake resistant structures, such economic rehabilitation packages seem meaningless.

In the past years geologists have also presented similar scientific calculations about the arrival of a devastating earthquake in the Himalayas.

* Zafar Iqbal is a blogger and freelance writer. He writes on political, environmental and geo-strategic affairs of contemporary South Asia.


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