Landslides Lesser Than Expected After 2015 Nepal Earthquake

Posted: Dec 17 2015, 4:10am CST | by , Updated: Dec 17 2015, 4:12am CST , in Latest Science News


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Landslides Lesser Than Expected After 2015 Nepal Earthquake
This composite photo shows the village of Langtang, located within the Himalayan mountain region of Nepal, before and after the April 25, 2015 Gorkha earthquake. More than 350 people are estimated to have died as a result of the earthquake-induced landslide. Credit: David Breashears/GlacierWorks
  • Number of Subsequent Landslides Lesser than Usual after 2015 Nepal Earthquake

The number of subsequent landslides were lesser than usual after the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

The landslides resulting from the 2015 Nepal earthquake were not as many as was expected. A research team from the University of Arizona made this discovery. Besides this, no huge deluges occurred afterwards from the overflow of glacier lakes.

The earthquake struck the town of Gorkha, Nepal with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter Scale. It was quite a horrific earthquake with over 9000 casualties in over four nations. And Nepal bore the brunt of the burden.

"It was a really bad earthquake - over 9,000 fatalities in four countries, primarily Nepal," said lead author Jeffrey Kargel, senior associate research scientist in the University of Arizona department of hydrology and water resources.

"As horrific as this was, the situation could have been far worse for an earthquake of this magnitude."

While this was a very frightening earthquake alright, it didn’t do as much damage as it might have done under different circumstances. When the earthquake hit its epicenter, a glaciologist named Kargel surmised how he could lend succour from more than 8000 miles away.

Kargel realized quickly that his knowledge of satellite imaging could help determine where the landslides had occurred. Kargel and another geologist than gathered a team of experts who used the tool of satellite imaging to determine the affected areas.

Other than searching for clues as to the earthquake’s effects on glaciers, the study, published in the journal Science, expanded into post-earthquake landslides.

Remote sensing capabilities were also employed in the repertoire of tools for rehabilitation. The scads of images that were obtained as a result tell a different story.

Ten satellites from four countries took the images. Computer simulations were also utilized in the scheme of things. A month after the catastrophe, a report was compiled.

It showed that the 4312 landslides that occurred within a month and a half after the quake were actually fewer than those that occurred after other similar quakes. 491 glacial lakes were explored as well. Only 9 of these were affected by landslides.

The team’s paper was published in a journal. Ultimately, the scientists realized that they had an extensive database that could be used to tell more about geo-hazards.

Landslide liability varies from quake to quake. A map of the terrain where the Gorkha earthquake had taken place was made. The majority of the landslides occurred in areas that had dropped down rather than in areas that had been uplifted.

This pattern was unique in its incidence. The logic of the landslides defies all reason. One possibility is that the Gorkha earthquake caused less shaking at the surface than other earthquakes. This finding has indeed added to our limited and faulty knowledge of geology.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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