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Scientists warn of major earthquake as stress build-up in Uttarakhand’s Dharchula region

About 45 km from the new Kailash Mansarovar road, connecting Dharchula in Uttarakhand to Lipu Lekh on the China border, scientists at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology have unearthed large concentrations of micro and moderate magnitude earthquakes within the Dharchula region and adjoining areas of Kumaon Himalaya thanks to stress within the region and explored the geological structure behind it.

Scientists say these large concentrations of earthquakes are “release of stress’’ build up within the region which within the near future, there’s likelihood of an earthquake of high magnitude within the region.

“Apart from the Kangra earthquake in 1905 and Bihar-Nepal earthquake in 1934, this region has not experienced an earthquake of magnitude greater than 8.0 within the last 500 years, and hence the region is understood because the Central Seismic Gap (CSG) region. a niche may be a term wont to denote a neighborhood with little tectonic activity. This, despite the Himalayas being one among the foremost tectonically active regions within the country. However, the Kumaon Central Himalayan, which belongs to the present CSG region, is one among the foremost seismically active regions of the Himalayan belt that experienced a substantial number of moderate and powerful earthquakes within the recent past,’’ said Dr Devajit Hazarika, lead scientist on a paper that has now been published by the institute.

Scientists from the institute have established a seismological network of 15 broadband seismological stations along the Kali River valley to research the subsurface configuration and causes of frequently felt earthquakes within the Kumaon Himalaya region with support from the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

“The Dharchula region falls between two knee-like structures, which traps the strain during this region. this is often the rationale why there are crowded earthquakes here within a span of years, numerous smaller earthquakes have occurred here and therefore the stress keeps build up . For the strain to be finally released, there’s a robust possibility that a high magnitude earthquake of 8 on the Richter scale may occur, unlike in other areas where earthquakes are scattered. Of course, it’s impossible to predict the size or the precise time that an earthquake will occur. But we believe that this building stress will need to be released at some point,’’ added Dr Hazarika.

“We started investigating and mapping the region precisely due to the crowded earthquakes, to seek out out why they were occurring,’’ said Dr Hazarika.

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