Research Highlights | Published:

Geology

Why Nepal quake was so damaging

Nature volume 524, page 139 (13 August 2015) | Download Citation

Subjects

The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that devastated much of Nepal on 25 April did not relieve all of the geological stress in the region — making another big quake probable.

Image: Narendra Shrestha/EPA/Corbis

A team led by Jean-Philippe Avouac at the University of Cambridge, UK, used seismic data and satellite radar to show that a 140-kilometre stretch of a major Himalayan geological fault shifted during the disaster. This transferred stress into neighbouring areas of the fault, which may now be more prone to rupturing in a future quake.

In a separate paper, Yuji Yagi and Ryo Okuwaki of the University of Tsukuba, Japan, found that the earthquake rupture raced eastward from its point of origin. The greatest movement of the fault occurred about 50 kilometres east of the quake's epicentre — close to Kathmandu.

This discovery helps to explain why the shaking was so destructive to the city, according to a third paper by another team led by Avouac. Although much of the ground in the region shook only moderately, the seismic energy was amplified across the Kathmandu basin in ways that caused tall buildings, including temples, to sway and collapse (pictured is what remains of Kathmandu's Bhimsen Tower, known as Dharahara).

Nature Geosci. http://doi.org/6p7 (2015); Geophys. Res. Lett. http://doi.org/6ns (2015); Science http://doi.org/6p6 (2015)

About this article

Publication history

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/524139a

Authors

    Comments

    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing