Great Nepalese quake of 1255 points to Himalayan risk

Dec 16, 2012
A mega-quake in 1255 that wrecked Kathmandu, pictured here on November 21, 2012, wiped out a third of the population of Kathmandu Valley and killed the country's monarch, King Abhaya Malla, was of a kind that may return to the Himalayas, seismologists reported on Sunday.

A mega-quake in 1255 that wrecked the Nepalese capital, wiped out a third of the population of Kathmandu Valley and killed the country's monarch, King Abhaya Malla, was of a kind that may return to the Himalayas, seismologists reported on Sunday.

Experts from Nepal, France and Singapore mapped deposits of displaced along part of the where the Indian subcontinent slams into the Asia tectonic plate at up to 50 millimetres (1.97 inches) per year.

With the help of carbon dating, they found that the soil movement in one place was caused by a huge that coincided with the great event of July 7 1255.

More than six centuries later, there was another surface-breaking event, correlating to a magnitude 8.2-event in 1934.

The finding is important because until now there had been no evidence of surface ruptures from the collision of these plates.

Surface ruptures are not only extremely violent—they also tend to release most or all of the accumulated strain. "Blind" quakes are ones that do not break the surface, and tend to be more frequent.

The study says it takes probably takes centuries for the strain to accumulate before another bust occurs, if the evidence of the surface turnover is a guide.

This long timespan is worrying as the previous event may be undocumented or poorly understood because it is so ancient.

The scientists do not rule out the possibility that other potential monsters could be lurking elsewhere on the fault, as no-one has looked for the evidence for them.

"Two great earthquakes 679 years apart contributed to the frontal uplift of young river terraces in eastern Nepal," says the paper, published in the Geoscience.

"The rare surface expression of these earthquakes implies that surface ruptures of other reputedly blind great Himalayan events might exist."

Explore further: Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

More information: DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1669

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Haiti fault capable of another big quake: study

Oct 24, 2010

The January 12 earthquake in Haiti failed to release all the tension in a notorious seismic fault, leaving its capital exposed to the risk of another seismic disaster, US scientists reported Sunday.

Quakes warn of seismic danger closer to home

Apr 08, 2005

More earthquakes along the fault that caused the Boxing Day and Easter Monday earthquakes are “inevitable” and may cause shocks and tsunamis close to north-western Australia. Dr Wouter Schellart, who is working on mod ...

No long-distance risks from mega-quakes: study

Mar 27, 2011

Monster earthquakes like the 9.0-magnitude event that occurred off Japan on March 11 are unlikely to trigger a large quake in distant regions of the world, according to a study published on Sunday.

Turkey, a country at seismic crossroads

Oct 24, 2011

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Van province in eastern Turkey on Sunday, causing hundreds of fatalities, underscores the country's fate to be straddling one of the world's most active seismic zones.

GPS data reveals more on mega-thrust earthquakes

Apr 29, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- New GPS data of the 2010 earthquake that devastated parts of Chile and killed over 500 people is revealing new clues about large earthquakes such as the quake in Chile and the magnitude 9.0 ...

Recommended for you

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

Apr 18, 2014

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Urgelt
5 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2012
According to the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) in Nepal, the 1255 quake was approximately 7.7 on the Richter scale.

If that's accurate, then it wasn't a particularly 'mega' quake. But the location of the quake and the local terrain made it quite deadly.
rwinners
not rated yet Dec 17, 2012
Ridiculous. The San Andreas has surface movement events that are measured in years, not decades or centuries.

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

European climate at the +2 C global warming threshold

A global warming of 2 C relative to pre-industrial climate has been considered as a threshold which society should endeavor to remain below, in order to limit the dangerous effects of anthropogenic climate change.

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...