The fault line that produced a catastrophic magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal 4 1/2 years ago is under stress that could result in another major shaker, according to research conducted by a team that included UC Riverside scientists.
A team of UCR geophysicists, joined by researchers from three other universities, determined through modeling that the 620-mile Main Himalayan Thrust is at risk of another damaging shift because of collisions between tectonic plates extending from Europe and Asia — the same ones that created the Himalayas.
The team’s findings were published in the most recent edition of “Nature Geoscience.”
The scientists were able to glean key data from a network of 45 seismometers that they placed shortly after the April 25, 2015, earthquake, which killed an estimated 9,000 people, injured more than 22,000 and destroyed 600,000 homes.
The seismic event, followed by a magnitude 7.3 shaker that widened the path of destruction, was centered near Gorkha, Nepal.
UCR professor Abhijit Ghosh, who teaches geophysics, said the seismic readings resulted in a “high resolution model” that mapped the fault structure, shaped like a duplex, in great detail.
“With this knowledge, we can better explain why the quake happened the way it happened, and better estimate the stress points along the fault that may act as birthplaces for future large damaging earthquakes,” Ghosh said.
The professor drew parallels between the stress accumulations along the Main Himalayan Thrust and the 150-mile Garlock Fault, which set off the magnitude 6.4 Ridgecrest quake on July 4, significantly impacting the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, the community of Ridgecrest and surrounding locations.
“The moral of this story is, if you live anywhere near a fault, get your earthquake kit ready,” Ghosh said. “That is always the moral of the story.”