Four earthquakes, one after another, in a span of a few hours, shook Delhiites out of their slumber recently. Though seismologists said there was no cause for worry, the tremors again highlighted the urgent need for more research in the domain of seismology in a country where 54% of land is vulnerable to earthquakes. This also holds true for the Capital and its surrounding regions, which fall in the seismically volatile zone 4 and can experience moderate or high levels of seismic activity.
According to experts, though India is at par with Japan, China and the US as far as academics and research in seismology are concerned, implementation of the findings is a challenge. Chandra Shekhar Dubey, dean, science faculty and head, department of geology, Delhi University, says: “There is a lack of expertise in terms of seismic redesigning or retrofitting of old and new buildings.”
Studies deal with earthquake seismology, computational seismology based on real time data analysis and geotechnical engineering based on seismic case studies. Complementary courses are based on ‘near surface geophysics’ and quaternary dating methods with applications to paleoseismology which is the science of looking at geological sediments and rocks for signs of ancient earthquakes.
Debashish Sengupta, head, department of geology and geophysics, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, elaborates, “The need of the hour is a judicious blend of existing seismological studies in order to prepare a digital database of the Indian sub-continent, mapping the active fault zones. The central/state-level disaster management policies should be suitably framed with inputs from the geoscientists/seismologists. Since earthquakes cannot be predicted with precision, the only recourse is framing of suitable methodology for its mitigation.”
Career opportunities are opening up in seismology. “One can be engaged in research, or work as a faculty, scientist, doctoral or post-doctoral scholar in institutes which have departments of earth sciences/geo-sciences and other research labs. The defence labs/department of atomic energy also hire people for studying seismicity, mainly to zero in on sites for defence installations and nuclear power plants,” says Sengupta. Students can opt for courses such as earthquake engineering, computational sesimology and geology.