SINGAPORE (TIP): Scientists have warned of moregreat earthquakes – of the magnitude 8 to 8.5 – in theHimalayas, especially in areas with their surface yet tobe broken by a temblor.A research team led by Nanyang TechnologicalUniversity (NTU) has discovered that massiveearthquakes in the range of 8 to 8.5 magnitudes on theRichter scale have left clear ground scars in the centralHimalayas.
This ground-breaking discovery has huge implicationsfor the area along the front of the Himalayan Mountains,researchers said in a statement.Paul Tapponnier, a leading neotectonics scientist, saidthat the existence of such devastating quakes in the pastmeans that quakes of the same magnitude could happenagain in the region in future, especially in areas whichhave yet to have their surface broken by a temblor.The study showed that in 1255 and 1934, two greatearthquakes ruptured the surface of the earth in theHimalayas.
This runs contrary to what scientists havepreviously thought.Massive earthquakes are not unknown in theHimalayas, as quakes in 1897, 1905, 1934 and 1950 all hadmagnitudes between 7.8 and 8.9, each causingtremendous damage. But they were previously thoughtnot to have broken the earth’s surface – classified as blindquakes – which are much more difficult to track.However, Tapponnier said that by combining new highresolution imagery and state of the art datingtechniques, they could show that the 1934 earthquake didindeed rupture the surface, breaking the ground over alength of more than 150 kilometres, essentially south ofthe part of the range that harbours Mount Everest.
This break formed along the main fault in Nepal thatcurrently marks the boundary between the Indian andAsian tectonic plates – also known as the Main FrontalThrust (MFT) fault.Using radiocarbon dating of offset river sedimentsand collapsed hill-slope deposits, the researchersmanaged to separate several episodes of tectonicmovement on this major fault and pin the dates of thetwo quakes, about 7 centuries apart.Tapponnier warns that the long interval between thetwo recently discovered earthquake ruptures does notmean people should be complacent, thinking that thereis still time before the next major earthquake happens inthe region.