Saturday 12 May 2012

Earthquake rattles Assam, northeast India.

On Friday 11 May 2012 just after 6.10 pm local time (slightly after 12.40 pm GMT) the northeast Indian state of Assam was shaken by an Earthquake centered at Kampur Nagon District, recorded by the United States Geological Survey as measuring 5.3 on the Richter Scale and occurring at a depth of 11.5 km, and by the India Meteorological Survey as measuring 5.4 on the Richter Scale, at the same depth. The quake was felt as far away as Calcutta, and caused widespread alarm locally. A number of buildings are reported to have been damaged, and at least two people have been injured, reportedly while falling from scaffolding.

The location of the 11 May 2012 Earthquake. USGS.

Assam is quite prone to Earthquakes, being located on the northern part of the Indian Plate, close to its boundary with Eurasia. India is moving northward, pushing into Eurasia at a rate of 40 mm a year. This causes quakes on both plates, as well as the uplift that has created the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.

The movement of India into Eurasia over the last 71 million years. USGS.

In August 1950 Assam suffered an Earthquake measuring 8.6 on the Richter Scale, which killed over 1500 people. This was the the sixth largest quake of the twentieth century, and the largest ever recorded on a non-subductive plate margin. A quake that occurred in Assam in 1897 had an estimated magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter Scale (neither seismometers nor the Richter Scale had been invented in 1897, but scientists can attempt to estimate the magnitude of quakes retrospectively); this also killed about 1500 people.

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