Earthquakes can be terrifying especially if you are experiencing one. They can also pass gently without being noticed or cause mayhem resulting in death. The intensity depends on multiple factors such as location. Most of the worlds earthquakes occur along circum-Pacific seismic belt or “ring of fire.” This area is characterized as having a tremendous amount of tectonic activity. About 80% of the world’s earthquakes occur in this area. About 17% of the worlds earthquakes occurs in the Himalayas along the alpide belt. The section of the alpide belt that passes Nepal is the subject of this blog post.
Earthquakes occur frequently in Nepal. However, a major earthquake only occurs about once every 70 years. The last major earthquake occurred on April 25th, 2015, but a major aftershock occurred on May 12th, 2015. Earthquakes and aftershocks are the same, except aftershocks are of a lesser magnitude. The earthquake that occurred on April 25 was a magnitude 7.8, which happened in Gorkha between Pokhara and Kathmandu in the northern part of the country.
The earthquake was a result of pressure caused by the Indian tectonic plate subducting under the Eurasian plate. The pressure that built up was suddenly released in a thrust southward. When this happened parts of Nepal, like Kathmandu, shifted 10 feet south.
The second most recent earthquake happened in 1934. It occurred near Murkuchi in the south eastern part of Nepal. This earthquake was classified as a magnitude 8.0. A lot less is known about this earthquake, but it did give Gandhi a talking point. He blamed the earthquake on India’s failure to the cast system citing it as gods punishment.
Before the 1934 earthquake was a 7.7 magnitude earthquake near Tibet. This earthquake occurred in 1916.
The first earthquake recorded in Nepal occurred in 1255 AD. However, earthquakes have been occurring here since before human habitation, when Everest was at the bottom of the Tethys sea.
Take away message
The Nepal earthquake of 2015 is a dramatic example of the worst that can happen. but earthquakes are common in Nepal. You are not likely to encounter a large one within the next 70 years, but its likely you may experience a small one that tickles your feet.