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Thursday, July 19, 2018

What 7.9 earthquake actually means

The region is earthquake prone because of an interaction between the Himalayan and the Eurasian tectonic plates.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi | Updated: April 25, 2015 6:12:04 pm
earthquake in Nepal, Nepal earthquake, India earthquake, A man injured in the earthquake in Nepal (AP photo)

India was hit by one of the strongest earthquakes in recent times when a 7.9 magnitude quake centred in Nepal sent strong tremors though most of north India.

The epicenter of the earthquake was at a place 81 km northwest of Kathmandu in Nepal, the US Geological Survey said. The site is 29 km east of Lamjung and 53 km northeast of Bharatpur in Nepal. The earthquake was earlier measured to be 7.4 on Richter scale but the USGS later updated it to 7.9.

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The earthquake is strongest ever in the region in the last 80 years, second only to 8.3 magnitude earthquake on the Bihar-Nepal border in 1934. In 2011, the Sikkim-Nepal border had experienced a quake of 6.9 magnitude.

The Indian Meteorological Department in its preliminary report said the earthquake originated 10 km below the earth’s surface.

Television pictures showed damaged buildings in Nepal. The extent of damage, if any, in India was not immediately known.

Several aftershocks have been felt in many places after the main quake. The strongest of these was measured 6.6 on the Richter scale. Earthquakes of this magnitude are followed by a series of aftershocks of smaller intensities.

The region is earthquake prone because of an interaction between the Himalayan and the Eurasian tectonic plates. Scientists now say that the Indian landmass is moving not just northwards but also towards the west. The westward rotational movements have been found to be behind some of the recent earthquakes, including the 2011 quake in Sikkim.

Just how much is 7.9 on Richter Scale?

An earthquake of magnitude 7 would be 10 times more in strength than one of magnitude 6. In terms of energy, it would release 32 times more energy. The Richter scale is a logarithmic scale. As it goes higher up, a difference of a decimal point can mean a huge variance in terms of destruction. Earthquakes are measured in terms of vertical ground movements of the earth. A magnitude of 3 on the Richter Scale results in about one millimeter of vertical movement in the earth’s surface at a distance of 100 km from the epicenter.

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