NEW DELHI, India, 7 February 2017
A 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled Uttarakhand on Monday (February 6) evening sending tremors all across north India, including Delhi and its adjoining areas, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. Luckily, no damage to life or property was reported from Uttarakhand or other parts of north India rattled by the quake epicentered 31km below the earth surface in Pipalkoti near Rudraprayag.
Uttarakhand and the northern Himalayan region have witnessed several high and medium intensity tremors in the recent past. Nepal was devastated by a magnitude 7.9 quake on April 25, 2015. However, experts have warned of a catastrophic earthquake in north India in near future. Several reports based on study of movement of tectonic plates have pointed out that a catastrophic earthquake could hit Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of north India in years to come.
Scientists of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) said that the big one could come sooner than expected. Dr Sushil Kumar, senior scientist at WIHG, explained the Indian Plate is moving towards the Eurasian Plate at the speed of 45 km per year, causing immense pressure under the earth surface in the region, a report in Jagran said.
The Himalayan region has had four major earthquakes in the past 150 years. According to geologists, the regions between Kangra and Nepal-Bihar did not experience any earthquake for a long time till the 25 April 2015 earthquake. The region was the “maximum probable zone” for an earthquake. The Himalayas had experienced three great quakes during the past century: Nepal-Bihar (1934), upper Assam (in 1950), and Kangra, Himachal Pradesh (1905).
How the Himalayan range was created
The earth’s land masses ride like gigantic rafts on “plates”, or sections of the earth’s outermost layer, the crust. These plates frequently slip and slide, causing earthquakes. We don’t feel the small ones. The big ones, literally, shake us up.
The Himalayas and north India are on particularly shaky ground. Sometime in the geological past, before humans, India broke off from an ancient supercontinent called Gondwana, a name still used for what is now Chhattisgarh.
The Indian plate skewed north, displaced an ancient sea, travelled more than 2,000 km — the fastest a plate has ever moved — and slammed into the Eurasian plate, creating the Himalayas.
About 60 per cent of India is vulnerable to earthquakes caused by the great, northward grind of the Indian subcontinental landmass.