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Threat of a Massive Earthquake Is Looming Under Bangladesh

Bangladesh might be under the threat of a massive earthquake building up under its land. A team of scientists have made an appraisal of the possibility of the disaster, and concluded that it could affect around 140 million people in the region. Their paper is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Potential quake zone. Solid red line indicates an area of about 24,000 square miles that could move during a subduction-zone earthquake, affecting 140 million people or more. The dashed line represents a scenario in which the slip might take place along a separate fault. Credit: Chris Small/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Potential earthquake zone. The area that could possible move as a result of the earthquake is indicated by a solid red line. Photo credits:Chris Small/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The subduction zone

The cause of the dooming threat is at a point of a subduction zone of the Earth where two tectonic plates are thrusting against each other. This type of zones is associated with the world’s biggest recorded earthquakes, such as the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the 2011 one in Japan. Given that the subduction zone in Bangladesh appears to be under land as opposed to the known ones that are underneath the sea, the destruction that would result from it would be far greater.

Earthquake of up to magnitude 9 threatening Bangladesh

This subduction zone was known to exist by researchers from before. However, it was initially thought that the plate boundary was only sliding horizontally near to the surface such that it would not be considered a great danger; in fact, it has been linked with earthquakes that have occurred in the past which did not cause that much damage. Now, the new paper reveals that the movements are more dangerous because the plate juncture seems to be under much stress. The researchers include in their data a model that can be used to estimate the size of the earthquake (it might possibly be of a magnitude larger than 8.2, according to lead author, geophysicist Michael Steckler from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory).

According to the team, the stress between the plates has been accumulating for over 4 centuries, and the quake might even reach magnitude 9.

The zone in question is associated with the tectonic boundary behind the 2004 tsunami. Scientists believe that an enormous plate encompassing India and the majority of the Indian Ocean has been moving such that Asia’s position is being affected; this change would be happening over millions of years; this would also account for the Himalayas to have risen to the north, a phenomenon that is thought to be the cause of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. This collision and movements are said to affect Bangladesh, leading to a series of quakes in its vicinity.

It is to be noted that the authors say that their findings do not actually constitute a forecast of an upcoming earthquake; however, they do describe the threat as an “underappreciated hazard”. Furthermore, Steckler says that they cannot estimate the time at which it might happen; they are unsure as to whether it can happen now or in centuries from now. More research needs to be done.

Meanwhile, researchers in and around Bangladesh are persevering in assessing the threats looming over the country.

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2 comments

  1. ER J.N.KHATANIAR on

    The entire north-eastern part of India including Bangladesh is one of the sixth most sensitive earthquake prone zone as per the world seismic map.
    So earthquake of high magnitude may occurs at any time without any warning. The only solution is, we have to be prepared to face this challenge of NATURE in best possible ways.
    Accurate prediction methods for earthquakes is not yet developed. This is such a devastating Natural calamity that released of tremendous strain energy that is being developed and stored due to tectonic plates movement below the Earth Crust, having massive destruction power over the earth surface.
    Researchers and Geo-scientist are studying on this uncontrolled natural phenomenon which can’t be prevented,minimize or diverted but should not try to panic people of any part of the Globe based on their findings.
    Their best contribution to the society shall be – along with the research, please develop some methods / techniques / devices / tips to face this challenge of the NATURE with courage and to learn to live together with earthquakes in decent scientific manner SO THAT LOSS OF LIFE AND PROPERTY can be minimize.
    This will be a very good social work as a part of their social responsibility towards the Mankind then the predictions for the earthquakes and keeping in panic everyone.

    Er.J. N. KHATANIAR Consultant Civil Engineer.
    Guwahati, Assam, Eastern India. email: j.n.khataniar@gmail.com 15.07.2016

    Reply

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