Earthquake Risk Signs of Nature Should Not be Ignored
TerraGreen|March 2021
In this article, Baseera Rafiqi talks about earthquake risk factors in Jammu and Kashmir while reiterating that ignoring signs of nature could prove detrimental for the region in the long run.
Baseera Rafiqi
Owing to the topography of the region, Kashmir has been a witness to a protracted history of earthquakes, which have caused tremendous damage and experts believe that worst is yet to come. The region is jelled between massive mountains that constrict its easy passage from all the sides. Since the 2005 earthquake that affected lives and property across borders, the region has experienced many major and minor strokes.

‘We don’t feel all the jolts as they are low in intensity, only tremors above 4 on the Richter scale are felt by people,’ says Farooq Bhat, Assistant Meteorologist, Jammu and Kashmir. According to Bhat, most of the earthquakes felt by the people of Valley had their epicentre near the Hindu Kush. ‘Hindu Kush was the epicentre of most of the quakes that were felt in the past year. Overall, the number of quakes has remained the same, it is just that there is less time gap between the two consecutive tremors and that’s why people feel that their frequency has increased,’ added Bhat.

Expert Opinion

Data from the Meteorological Department helps geologists and seismologists to assess the situation and come up with latest researches on the subject. One of the renowned geologists deconstructs the whole process of the earthquakes for us. ‘Quakes are caused in two ways, if there is a conversion or diversion of plates, and within the plates due to the movement of faults. We are located on the Kashmir–Pakistan border which is a suture zone, Main Frontal Thrust or MFT,’ says Dr Bikram Singh Bali, Assistant Professor, University of Kashmir. ‘Kashmir falls on both fault lines and converging plates, hence we are more vulnerable to more number of earthquakes. Researches prove that the Euro-Asian plate has become active over the years. The quakes that we are witnessing these days are due to an active Hindu Kush belt. Earlier, it was smaller but now their magnitude has increased,’ added Dr Bali.

Earthquake is just a means to liberate the immense amount of energy produced underneath the surface of earth. ‘Enormous amount of heat is produced underneath the crust due to forces working on longitudinal and horizontal way causing disturbance, which finds its way out through quakes,’ reiterated Dr Bali. ‘Hindu Kush is a repository of quakes. Therefore, earthquakes have occurred here in the past. And, present and future earthquakes will keep on striking here. But surely the activity of the Euro-Asian plate has increased.’

After studying the seismic activity of the region, Roger Bilham (2008) came up with the claims that an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 was going to hit the state and cause immense damage. ‘Roger Bilham has estimated that the accumulated stress in the region could potentially produce a dreadful 9.0 magnitude earthquake’, added Prof. Bali, who was a part of Rogers research team. There is no final view on this front. Some are of the opinion that a major earthquake is due but others tend to disagree.

Are these minor shocks a breather for us?

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