Earthquake theory stretched in Central Asia study

Feb 25, 2008

The entrenched political instability in Pakistan and Afghanistan is of grave concern to many in the West – but now geologists at ANU have suggested a new cause for the seismic instability that regularly rocks the region.

Scientists from the Research School of Earth Sciences at ANU argue that the frequent and dramatic earthquakes in the Hindu Kush mountain range are likely to be the result of a slow, elastic stretching of a sub-surface feature called a boudin. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience today, run contrary to the theory that earthquakes usually result from the abrasive collisions between tectonic plates.

“We’ve always thought of earthquakes as being brittle, but our research that the slow, ductile stretching of certain geological features can build up energy that is then suddenly released, causing major seismic upheaval,” said lead author Professor Gordon Lister.

Using computer modelling, the researchers were able to show that the long, hard boudin that sits vertically beneath the Hindu Kush is being stretched as its lower parts are pulled into the Earth’s mantle. “It’s like a metal rod that is being pulled at both ends,” Professor Lister explained. “Eventually the stretching will suddenly accelerate, releasing energy in the process.”

The boudin is thought to be a remnant of the oceanic plate that was pushed into the Earth’s mantle when India collided with Asia. Professor Lister said that eventually it too will eventually drop into the deeper mantle, but that is likely to take thousands, if not millions, of years.

“This is important work, as it suggests a new way of understanding how earthquakes happen. It feeds into the potential for us to eventually develop new and innovative long-range forecasting techniques” Professor Lister said.

“It’s no accident that nations like Afghanistan and Pakistan are places of unrest, because the people there are living in constant hardship, and this results in part from periodic catastrophe’s they must endure, for example related to earthquakes. If we don’t put more effort into understanding the how and why, and also into how we might eventually better forecast earthquakes, humankind is forever doomed to deal with the consequences.”

The researchers have developed a software program called eQuakes that allows them to model earthquake patterns against geological features.

Source: Australian National University

Explore further: NASA sees Genevieve squeezed between 3 tropical systems

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Iliad founder says T-Mobile offer is 'real'

5 hours ago

French telecom upstart Iliad's founder said Friday that the company's offer for US-based T-Mobile is "real" and that he is open to working with partners on a deal.

Law changed to allow 'unlocking' cellphones

6 hours ago

President Barack Obama signed a bill into law on Friday making it legal once again to unlock a cellphone without permission from a wireless provider, so long as the service contract has expired.

Social network challenges end in tragedy

6 hours ago

Online challenges daring people to set themselves ablaze or douse themselves in ice water are racking up casualties and fueling wonder regarding idiocy in the Internet age.

Microsoft sues Samsung alleging contract breach

6 hours ago

Microsoft on Friday sued Samsung in federal court claiming the South Korean giant had breached a contract over cross-license technology used in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

Recommended for you

NASA sees Tropical Storm Halong's 'best side'

11 hours ago

NASA satellite data showed Tropical Storm Halong's "best side" or most powerful side was east of its center. That's where the coldest cloud top temperatures and strongest thunderstorms appeared on satellite ...

Symbiotic survival

15 hours ago

One of the most diverse families in the ocean today—marine bivalve mollusks known as Lucinidae (or lucinids)—originated more than 400 million years ago in the Silurian period, with adaptations and life ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

EarthScientist
1 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2008
Oh come on again,This is 2008,in religious years.

To me it is approximately Stardate 52,008.2.26

But tonights point is that magma expansion creates all quakes and has everything to do with the amount of magma heating due to incoming aetheric energy to the magma.

That plate is just a break point for the expansion and we really dont have a need for further scenarioizing as to how earthquakes are caused,not really.

Did any of you science folks ever wonder what would happen if you actually engaged in really understanding your earth so you could be a co-hesive force for change in the processing against this earth that you are not even aware of ??

Expansion and contraction of the magma / plasma field needs to be understood.

The grids processes need to be understood.

The Grand Canyon was not created from the Colorado river carving it. Now how many of you really believe that ??. There is no basis in logic there.

The earth does not have an iron core. Why do you folks believe that??

The gravity process on this earth sphere is really simple and it has everything to do with the actual make up of the core,that draws the aether into the magma field,but there is alot more.

Now why can so called Physicists process grid facts and process away from old scenarioizing??

Im still waiting for that explanation...