Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New study finds major earthquake threat from the Riasi fault in the Himalayas

19.05.2016

New geologic mapping in the Himalayan mountains of Kashmir between Pakistan and India suggests that the region is ripe for a major earthquake that could endanger the lives of as many as a million people.

Scientists have known about the Riasi fault in Indian Kashmir, but it wasn't thought to be as much as a threat as other, more active fault systems. However, following a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in 2005 on the nearby Balakot-Bagh fault in the Pakistan side of Kashmir -- which was not considered particularly dangerous because it wasn't on the plate boundary -- researchers began scrutinizing other fault systems in the region.


Panoramic photograph looking west of the Riasi fault system. For scale, an elevation of 300 m separates an older river terrace, the Bidda terrace, to the modern Chenab River.

Photo by Yann Gavillot, Oregon State University

What they found is that the Riasi fault has been building up pressure for some time, suggesting that when it does release or "slip," the resulting earthquake may be large - as much as magnitude 8.0 or greater.

Results of the new study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, have been accepted for publication by the Geological Society of America Bulletin, and published online.

"What we set out to learn was how much the fault has moved in the last tens of thousands of years, when it moved, and how different segments of the fault move," said Yann Gavillot, lead author on the study who did much of the work as a doctoral student at Oregon State University. "What we found was that the Riasi fault is one of the main active faults in Kashmir, but there is a lack of earthquakes in the more recent geologic record.

"The fault hasn't slipped for a long time, which means the potential for a large earthquake is strong. It's not a question of if it's going to happen. It's a matter of when."

There is direct evidence of some seismic activity on the fault, where the researchers could see displacement of the Earth where an earthquake lifted one section of the fault five or more meters - possibly about 4,000 years ago. Written records from local monasteries refer to strong ground-shaking over the past several thousand years.

But the researchers don't have much evidence as to how frequent major earthquakes occur on the fault, or when it may happen again.

"The Riasi fault isn't prominent on hazard maps for earthquake activity, but those maps are usually based more on the history of seismic activity rather than the potential for future events," said Andrew Meigs, a geology professor in OSU's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and co-author on the study. "In actuality, the lack of major earthquakes heightens the likelihood that seismic risk is high."

The researchers say 50 percent of the seismic "budget" for the fault can be accounted for with the new information. The budget is determined over geologic time by the movement of the tectonic plates. In that region, the India tectonic plate is being subducted beneath the Asia plate at a rate of 14 millimeters a year; the Riasi fault accounts for half of that but has no records of major earthquakes since about 4,000 years ago, indicating a major slip, and earthquake, is due.

"In the last 4,000 years, there has only been one major event on the Riasi fault, so there is considerable slip deficit," Meigs said. "When there is a long gap in earthquakes, they have the potential to be bigger unless earthquakes on other faults release the pressure valve. We haven't seen that. By comparison, there have been about 16 earthquakes in the past 4,000 years in the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Northwest coast of the United States."

Gavillot said a major earthquake at the Riasi fault could have a major impact on Jammu, the Indian capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has a population of about 1.5 million people. Another 700,000 people live in towns located right on the fault.

"There are also several dams on the Chenab River near the fault, and a major railroad that goes through or over dozens of tunnels, overpasses and bridges," Gavillot said. "The potential for destruction is much greater than the 2005 earthquake."

The 2005 Kashmir earthquake killed about 80,000 people in Pakistan and India.

Media Contact

Yann Gavillot
ygavillot@gmail.com
541-908-1414

 @oregonstatenews

http://www.orst.edu 

Yann Gavillot | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Canadian glaciers now major contributor to sea level change, UCI study shows
15.02.2017 | University of California - Irvine

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>