Sunday 1 September 2013

Earthquake kills at least five in Shangri La and Deqin Counties, Yunnan Province, China.

Five people are known to have died in Shangri La and Deqin Counties in Yunnan, and another 49 (including a number of foreign tourists) have been injured in Shangri La and Deqin counties, and Derong County in Sichuan, following an Earthquake slightly before 8.30 am local time (slightly before 0.30 am GMT) on Saturday 31 August 2013, which the China Earthquake Administration measured as a Magnitude 5.9 quake in Shangri La County, while the United States Geological Survey recorded it as a Magnitude 5.1 quake in Deqin County. Most of the casualties occurred as a result of landslides in the mountainous region.

A truck damaged by a landslide on a road between Sangri La and Dequin Counties in Yunnan Province, following the 31 August Earthquake. Jiang Chu/Xinhau.

Much of western China and neighbouring areas of Central Asia and the Himalayas, is prone to Earthquakes caused by the impact of the Indian Plate into Eurasia from the south. The Indian Plate is moving northwards at a rate of 5 cm per year, causing it to impact into Eurasia, which is also moving northward, but only at a rate of 2 cm per year. When two tectonic plates collide in this way and one or both are oceanic then one will be subducted beneath the other (if one of the plates is continental then the other will be subducted), but if both plates are continental then subduction will not fully occur, but instead the plates will crumple, leading to folding and uplift (and quite a lot of Earthquakes). The collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates has lead to the formation of the Himalayan Mountains, the Tibetan Plateau, and the mountains of southwest China, Central Asia and the Hindu Kush.

The approximate location of the 31 August 2013 Yunnan Earthquake. Google Maps.

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