On Thursday around 3 pm, the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan experienced the impact of a formidable earthquake, resonating across neighboring regions. The seismic shocks were notably felt in various locations, ranging from Islamabad and Rawalpindi in Pakistan to Jammu-Kashmir and Delhi-NCR in India.
The National Center for Seismology reported a magnitude of 6.1 for the earthquake, emphasizing its substantial intensity. The epicenter of the seismic event was situated approximately 220 kilometers below the Earth’s surface within the Hindu Kush region. Fortunately, as of now, there have been no reported instances of damage resulting from the earthquake.
Nepal Struck by Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake, Triggers Aftershocks in Northern India
On the night of November 4, 2023, Nepal experienced the impact of a significant seismic event, marked by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake at 11:32 p.m. Unfortunately, this event resulted in the tragic loss of 157 lives. Subsequent to the earthquake, tremors reverberated beyond the borders of Nepal, reaching Delhi-NCR and affecting regions in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and the capital of Bihar, Patna. Remarkably, no casualties or property damage were reported in India.
Following this seismic episode, another round of earthquake tremors occurred on November 6 at 4:16 p.m., once again affecting Delhi-NCR. The epicenter of this subsequent seismic event was also traced back to Nepal, with a magnitude measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale. The impact extended to neighboring states, including Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Understanding Earthquakes: The Dynamic Interplay of Tectonic Plates
Earthquakes, natural phenomena that instigate ground-shaking events, find their origins in the dynamic movements of the Earth’s lithospheric plates. Comprising seven large and rigid plates, the Earth’s crust is a complex system wherein constant motion occurs. The collision points of these plates give rise to what is known as a fault line or a seismic zone. The relentless rotation of these plates leads to repeated collisions, causing some plate corners to fracture.
As a consequence, internal heat seeks pathways to escape, setting the stage for seismic activity. The culmination of these intricate geological processes results in the manifestation of earthquakes, underlining the interconnected nature of the Earth’s crust and the significance of plate tectonics in shaping our planet’s dynamic landscape.
Seismic Zoning in India: Understanding Vulnerabilities
In India, seismic zones are demarcated based on the country’s susceptibility to earthquakes, with distinct regions falling into different risk categories. Approximately 11% of the nation lies within Zone 5, 18% in Zone 4, 30% in Zone 3, and the remaining areas in Zone 2.
Encompassing regions such as Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and certain parts of Tamil Nadu, Zone 2 represents areas with relatively lower seismic risk.
This zone includes Kerala, Goa, the Lakshadweep group, segments of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, portions of Gujarat and Punjab, sections of West Bengal, western Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, the northern part of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and some parts of Karnataka. Zone 3 signifies a moderate seismic risk.
Covering parts of Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Sikkim, northern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, small sections of West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra (near the western coast), and western Rajasthan, Zone 4 denotes a higher seismic risk compared to the previous zones.
This high-risk seismic zone includes Jammu and Kashmir (Kashmir Valley), the western part of Himachal Pradesh, the eastern region of Uttarakhand, Kutch in Gujarat, North Bihar, all northeastern states of India, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Zone 5 signifies the highest level of seismic risk in the country.
Global Seismic Activity: A Comprehensive Overview
Annually, our planet experiences a substantial number of earthquakes, with an estimated 20,000 seismic events recorded worldwide. It is important to note that while the frequency of earthquakes is high, the majority exhibit low intensity. The National Earthquake Information Center diligently documents these occurrences, revealing that out of the total seismic events, approximately 100 earthquakes pose a heightened risk, causing more significant damage.
Earthquakes, characterized by the release of energy in the Earth’s crust, typically endure for a brief duration, ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. However, the impact of these geological phenomena can vary widely, influenced by factors such as depth, proximity to populated areas, and local geological conditions.
One notable seismic event etched into history occurred in the Indian Ocean in 2004, marking the longest earthquake on record with a duration of 10 minutes. While such extended durations are rare, they underscore the dynamic and unpredictable nature of seismic activity on a global scale.
Historic Earthquakes: A Glimpse into China’s Tragic Past and Chile’s Devastating Event
In the annals of seismic history, China witnessed one of the deadliest earthquakes on record in the year 1556. This catastrophic event, which unfolded over four centuries ago, claimed the lives of an astounding 8.30 lakh people, leaving an indelible mark on the collective memory of the nation.
Turning our attention to more recent seismic tragedies, the global community was confronted with the unparalleled intensity of an earthquake that struck Chile on May 22, 1960. This seismic event stands as the most dangerous earthquake ever recorded in terms of its magnitude, registering an awe-inspiring 9.5 on the Richter scale. The aftermath of this cataclysmic event was further compounded by a devastating tsunami that surged across vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean, wreaking havoc in numerous countries.
Southern Chile, the Hawaiian Islands, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, and south-eastern Australia all fell victim to the destructive force of the ensuing tsunami. The toll was staggering, with 1655 lives lost and an additional 3000 individuals sustaining injuries. This tragic incident underscores the far-reaching consequences of seismic events, emphasizing the imperative for global collaboration in developing robust early warning systems and disaster preparedness strategies to mitigate the impact of such devastating natural phenomena.