Delhi Could See Heavy Damage From Massive Earthquake Imminent In Himalayan Foothills, Warns Expert

Rohini Chatterji
Representative image. 

The tremors that people in the Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) felt on Wednesday, when a minor earthquake of 3.2 magnitude on the Richter scale hit Noida, were the third such felt in just the past 5 days. 

The National Centre of Seismology has recorded around 10 such earthquakes in and around Delhi-NCR between April 12 and May 29 in 2020. 

The increasing frequency of the earthquakes has left residents worried, with social media messages doing the rounds that there could be “a big one around the corner”.

An earthquake is imminent in the Himalayan foothills, said C.P. Rajendran, a professor at the geodynamic unit of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bengaluru, but added that one could not ascertain exactly when it was going to happen. 

A study that Rajendran led in 2018 had found that an earthquake which took place some time between the years 1315 and 1440 CE unzipped a stretch of about 600 km, the length of the seismic gap stretching from Bhatpur in India to beyond Mohana Khola in Nepal in the central Himalayas.

A seismic gap is a part of an active fault that has experienced little or no seismic activity for a long period.

The region, the study found, had remained seismically quiet for 600-700 years, creating an “enormous stacking up of seismic strain”, which could result in an earthquake of a magnitude of 8.5 or more at any time in the near future. 

This, the study said, could affect the foothills of the Himalayas and the northern plains of India, including cities such as Delhi.   

In an interview with HuffPost India over email, Rajendran explained why there have been minor earthquakes in Delhi over the past few weeks, the impact of a massive earthquake in Delhi and the steps the government needs to take to prepare for this. 

Excerpts from the interview: 

Delhi has experienced several minor earthquakes in the last few months. Can you explain to us why this has happened?

Delhi holds many faults associated with several...

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