Larger earthquakes possible: Indian scientists

Added by on September 21, 2011

National Geophysical Research Institute

Just days after a major earthquake in northeast India, scientists warned on Tuesday that much larger earthquakes are possible.

Harsh Gupta, a former director with the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad said Sunday’s quake, which killed 53 people and damaged or destroyed more than 100,000 buildings and rendered roads unusable, could be a precursor to a quake of at least magnitude 7.0.

Gupta added that while we know the speed at which the Indian plate is moving towards the Eurasian plate, thanks to better monitoring facilities, yet it is still not possible to reliably predict when an earthquake could strike. “There’s a lot, however, that can be done to restrict damage,” he said.

The September 18, magnitude 6.8 earthquake sent tremors as far as Delhi and had the worst effect in the Himalayan state of Sikkim. Scientists like Gupta say that quakes measuring magnitude under 7.0 is considered moderate yet the devastation caused by a quake with a magnitude of 7.5 could be 30 times more and scientists are expecting a quake of magnitude 7.5 anytime.

During 1897 and 1950 India has experienced five major earthquakes ranging between 7.9 and 8.5 on the Richter scale and has not had major seismic activity for the past 60 years. Most of North India falls into zone 4 and 5; these regions are classified as areas vulnerable to high intensity quakes.