‘Possibility of a big quake in Uttarakhand’
DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand may be jolted by a strong earthquake given that small and moderate tremors, including the one on Wednesday night, have been often felt in the state, a seismologist said.
The National Capital Region felt the tremor of the moderate earthquake, measuring 5.5 on the Richter Scale, that hit Uttarakhand around 8.45 pm. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the earthquake’s epicentre was Rudraprayag, 121 km away from Dehradun, and at a depth of 30 km.
Seismologist Ajay Paul of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) said it was difficult to predict a big quake. But small and moderate quakes could lead to a big disaster. “There’s possibility of a big earthquake in Uttarakhand, which falls under seismic zones IV and V . The small quakes are indication of a big disaster. However, it’s difficult to establish the time and, therefore, such a calamity can happen in days, months or even in years.”
Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh districts are in the most seismically active region (Zone V). US Nagar, Nainital, Haridwar, Champawat, Pauri and Almora districts fall in Zone IV (severe intensity zone).
Rudraprayag has reported two minor jolts. On April 17, a quake of 3.5 intensity was reported. The February 6 quake had a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter Scale. Uttarkashi was hit by two quakes of 3.4 magnitude each in December last year. In 2007 and 2012, quakes of 5 magnitude were reported in Uttarkashi. In 2006 three quakes were reported on the Indo-China border.
The movement of Indo-Eurasian plates in the earth’s layers release strain energy leading to quakes. Generally, the strain energy results in small quakes with intensity lower than 6 magnitude. But, if the energy is unreleased and accumulates inside, then there’s possibility of a big earthquake.
Paul called for greater awareness and precautions to avert harm during such natural disasters. “People residing in high sensitive districts have to be regularly communicated about the pre-, quake- and post-precaution measures. This will ensure their safety.”