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Earthquake History of India and How Safe Are We?

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Earthquakes

Earthquakes are mighty killers. About 15,000 people are killed by them every year and more than 100 million people have lost their life due to earthquakes in the history of mankind. Earthquakes have the power to uproot trees and send them crashing into buildings. They can trigger landslides and avalanches and cause fires, flooding and tsunamis that cause further devastation.

Any one who has visited California in USA will tell you what a beautiful State it is . But it is one of the most earthquake prone regions in the world. This is because a series of cracks in the earth crust run parallel to its coast. These are called faults. They are the places where the slabs that make up the earths crust called the tectonic places rub alongside each other. The tectonic pates move continually and this movement causes tremors along the fault lines.

The Indian Tectonic Plate

The India or Indian Plate is a tectonic plate that was originally a part of the ancient continent of Gondwanaland from which it split off, eventually becoming a major plate. About 50 to 55 million years ago, it fused with the adjacent Australian Plate. It is today part of the major Indo-Australian Plate, and includes the subcontinent of India and a portion of the basin under the Indian Ocean.

About 90 million years ago, subsequent to the splitting off from Gondwanaland, the India Plate split from Madagascar. It began moving north, at about 20 cm/yr and began colliding with Asia between 50 and 55 million years ago.  During this time, the India Plate covered a distance of 2,000 to 3,000 km , and moved faster than any other known plate. In 2007, German geologists determined that the reason the India Plate moved so quickly is that it is only half as thick as the other plates which formerly constituted Gondwanaland.

The collision with the Eurasian Plate along the boundary between India and Nepal formed the orogenic belt that created the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya Mountains, as sediment bunched up like earth before a plow.

The India Plate is currently moving northeast at 5 cm/yr, while the Eurasian Plate is moving north at only 2 cm/yr . This is causing the Eurasian Plate to deform and the India Plate to compress at a rate of 4 mm/yr.

Seismic Zone map of India

The seismic zone of India is depicted in the map.  It clearly shows the highest earthquake riskis  at the zones close to the Indian Plate.

Himalayas and how it is formed?

The highest mountain range in the world, the snow-capped Himalayas, is an example of a continent-to-continent collision. This immense mountain range began to form when two large landmasses, India and Eurasia, driven by tectonic plate movement, collided.  As both landmasses have about the same rock density, one plate could not be subducted under the other. The pressure of the colliding plates could only be relieved by thrusting skyward. The folding, bending, and twisting of the the collision zone formed the jagged Himalayan peaks. This string of towering peaks is still being thrust up as India, embedded in the Indo-Australian Plate, continues to crunch relentlessly into Tibet, on the southern edge of the Eurasian Plate.

Major Earthquakes in India

DATE LOCATION MAGNITUDE TOTAL DEATH
2004 DEC 26 OFF WEST COAST OF SUMATRA 9.3 2,25,000*
1897 JUN 12 SHILLONG PLATEAU 8.7 NA
1950 AUG 15 ARUNACHAL PRADESH-CHINA BORDER 8.5 NA
1934 JAN 15 BIHAR-NEPALBORDER 8.3 10,700
1941 JUN 26 ANDAMAN ISLANDS 8.1 NA
1819 JUN 16 KUTCH,GUJARAT 8 NA
1905 APR 04 KANGRA, H.P 8 19,000
2001 JAN 26 BHUJ , GUJARAT 7.7 21,000
1918 JUL 08 SRIMANGAL, ASSAM 7.6 NA
2005 OCT 08 PAKISTAN 7.6 85000*
1869 JAN 10 NEAR CACHAR, ASSAM 7.5 NA
1943 OCT 23 ASSAM 7.2 NA
1930 JUL 02 DHUBRI, ASSAM 7.1 NA
1885 MAY 30 SOPOR, J&K 7 NA
1956 JUL 21 ANJAR, GUJARAT 7 NA
1999 MAR 29 CHAMOLI DIST, UP 6.8 NA
1988 AUG 06 MANIPUR-MYANMAR BORDER 6.6 1,000
1991 OCT 20 UTTARKASHI, UP HILLS 6.6 2,000
1967 DEC 10 KOYNA, MAHARASHTRA 6.5 NA
1988 AUG 21 BIHAR-NEPAL BORDER 6.4 NA
1993 SEP 30 LATUR-OSMANABAD, MAHARASHTRA 6.3 10,000
1975 JAN 19 KINNAUR, HP 6.2 NA
1997 MAY 22 JABALPUR,MP 6 NA

* – Death toll is the total  include the deaths in other countries in the region.

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6 Responses to “Earthquake History of India and How Safe Are We?”
  1. niharhazra says:

    To my mind such data base and informatin needs to be exhibited in the rural India where web access is still a distant possibility. 70% of the Indians do not know the remarkable achievement of our scientisis, geologists and the role of the FSI.

  2. lowprice says:

    Earthquake History is great article.

  3. Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a weblog web site? The account helped me a appropriate deal. I were a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided brilliant clear concept

  4. Parvesh Malhotra says:

    I live in Dehra Dun.It is one of the areas where a lot of talk is going on of an impending jolt..what i want to know from experts, what precautions are to be taken in day to day life. Secondly i strongly feel government is not doing enough to enforce certain precautions. For instance i know a lot of old and well known schools which are virtually death traps. Teachers should be trained to act in a particular way in an emergency. Given that we live in a vulnerable zone ,school and college going students should be trained in disaster management.A lot of times earthquakes strike in night.What i feel we aught to do is to make beds made of strong iron pipes.We should keep a transister radio, torch, whistle, biscuits, and water under our bed. the transister is needed as cell phones may not work in disaster situation and a radio can help in locating a person under debris.This bed should be high enough to allow persons to crawl under it easily. The bed to too should be made of strong iron supports.More suggestions are welcome and should be published prominently in all earthquake pron zones

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