Scientists start regional network to study earthquakes in Himalayas

April 2nd, 2009 - 12:47 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sujit Chakraborty
Agartala, April 2 (IANS) The Holy Grail for geologists is the ability to predict an earthquake. While they continue their search, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) is putting in place a network by which they can forecast overall seismic activity in the Himalayas, one of the most quake-prone regions of the world.

“The continuous seismic monitoring of local and regional earthquakes will help evolve a stress pattern model for the entire vulnerable northeastern and Himalayan region besides adjoining countries of Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar and thereby establish a suitable earthquake precursor,” GSI Director General P.M. Tejale told IANS.

Tejale was here for the commissioning by GSI of a Multi-Parametric Geophysical Observatory (MPGO) at its Tripura-Mizoram division office in Agartala. Many of the electronic instruments in this observatory are being deployed for the first time in India.

The seismic observatory has a digital broadband and short-period seismograph. It is part of the Global Positioning System (GPS) network in which information is provided by satellites.

The observatory will improve the accuracy of recording earthquakes over a wide range - from 2.5 to 8.0 on the Richter scale.

Tejale said: “Similar MPGOs would be commissioned at Adamapool in Sikkim and Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh and these seismic observatories would be linked to other proposed as well as existing seismic observatories located at different strategic stations in India through the satellite network.”

The MPGO installed here will detect and record seismicity round the clock as part of the network that will monitor the entire Himalayan range, including all of northeastern India and neighbouring countries Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Geologists classify this as the sixth-most earthquake-prone belt in the world. The Indian government classifies the northeastern states, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and parts of northern Bihar as the country’s most vulnerable quake-prone zone.

“These MPGOs after recording the vibration of the earth would transmit them to the Data Receiving and Processing Centre at GSI headquarters in Kolkata which would process and analyse the data in real time mode,” the GSI chief added.

“The Agartala seismic observatory is a suitable site to offer potential information on earthquake genesis of the eastern Himalayan region as well as sub-oceanic earthquakes from the Bay of Bengal and this would be helpful in evolving earthquake mitigation model for the northeastern region as a long-term goal.”

According to Tejale, under the GSI’s ambitious plan, all-out efforts would be made for pre-disaster monitoring of the seismicity in the northeastern region to reduce damage during earthquakes.

“Since the northeastern region is mostly hilly and has active formation of sedimentary rocks, the union government has taken a number of initiatives and asked the state governments to follow disaster management strategies and make people aware about earthquakes,” a GSI official said.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at

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