Will Jammu and Kashmir face a devastating earthquake just like Turkey and Syria? And when will it happen? Various studies suggest that a major earthquake of 8-9 magnitude on the Richter scale can jolt the valley and will have a very bad impact.
In 2005, when most of the people were asleep in Kashmir; since people were observing the month of Ramadhan and hence opted to rest, suddenly everything started to shake.
The shakes however were very powerful and prompted people to leave the comfort of their homes and run out towards the open. It was a huge earthquake of magnitude 7.6 which had jolted the whole of Kashmir valley.
However, the impact was such that it still is fresh in the memories of people after these many years. The earthquake and its aftermath came out as a nightmare for many people.
The loss of life and property was high. The earthquake on the other hand garnered a lot of attention from international scientists to study more about the seismic activity of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir could be the next hotspot
In 2007, a geophysical investigation conducted by the University of Kashmir (KU) in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, warned that a potential 9.0 magnitude earthquake could hit the Kashmir Valley.
Unusually heavy rains caused overflows in the Jhelum, Chenab and Tawi basins, leading to flooding in J&K.
Jhelum had crossed a record width of 23 feet at Ram Munshi Bagh here, submerging localities on both sides of the river, including the city’s commercial hub, Lal Chowk, and its adjoining areas.
J&K has been a frequent witness to earthquakes, flash floods, and landslides.
Cracks in several houses in the Nai Basti hilly area of Thathri in Jammu’s Doda district a few days ago created panic among residents.
Earthquakes in Kashmir
In recent years, Jammu Kashmir has witnessed more earthquakes frequently. These earthquakes however were all of small magnitudes and did not cause any serious destruction or damage to property and life.
However, the increasing occurrences of earthquakes have given rise to speculations that a major earthquake is on its way. Though nothing can be confirmed right now, past studies also hint towards the same. It is however believed to be of more magnitude and more impact than the 2005 earthquake.
The region of Kashmir comes under zone 5, also referred to as the Very High Damage Risk Zone. Kashmir region is one of the most earthquake-prone areas in India. And the history of earthquakes here has proved, why Kashmir is categorized in this list.
Even at the start of the year 2022, Kashmir witnessed more than 40 earthquake shocks. If reports are to be believed, more than 160 earthquakes have jolted the region over a period of 12 years till the year 2021.
Some reports suggest that in the year 2011, more than seven earthquakes hit Kashmir. The number rose to eleven in the year 2012. More than 25 earthquakes were experienced in the region in the year 2013 and in the year 2014, approximately nineteen earthquakes jolted the region.
Not only this in October 2015 an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 shook up the region of Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in the death of three people.
Most of J&K areas vulnerable to natural disasters
The majority of Kashmir is vulnerable to earthquakes. Experts told Groundreport.in attribute earthquakes in J&K to a variety of causes, like the geography of the valley. The valley of Kashmir is exposed to natural disasters. ‘Multi-danger districts’ have been recognized in at least 13 of India’s 100 districts.
Most of Kashmir, including the districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Budgam, and Anantnag, as well as parts of the Jammu region, such as Doda, Ramban, and Kishtwar, have been classified as Seismic Zone V, which is prone to earthquakes, by the Indian Meteorological Department. While the rest of the districts have been classified as Seismic Zone IV.
GM Bhat, a geologist at the University of Jammu, said “Jammu & Kashmir areas are vulnerable to natural disasters, especially earthquakes. We cannot prevent natural disasters, only minimize damage. J&K is located in a high seismic zone and is susceptible to earthquakes. We have to make people aware that they cannot build houses in vulnerable places, especially in mountainous and steep areas.”
“The region is active. Generally, before the major shock, other minor ones follow one another in continuity. [The largest] may be in sight. The last major 5.7 magnitude earthquake occurred in 2013. Before that, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the region in 1962,” he said. He added, “The people of the region must take precautionary measures and know what to do and what not to do.”GM Bhat, a geologist at the University of Jammu
Major Earthquake On its Way?
Various studies were conducted after the powerful 2005 earthquake, which resulted in a lot of loss of life and property. Researchers and geologists also read the geology of all the regions of Kashmir.
The research is still underway. Some research studies suggest that a major earthquake of 8-9 magnitude on the Richter scale can jolt the valley and will have a very bad impact.
A study conducted by Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences also known as CIRES has suggested that a possible earthquake of magnitude nice can hit the region.
According to the study, the findings are the first thorough estimates of seismic activity in the area based on GPS readings, and the data show that accumulated strain might potentially cause a mega-earthquake between the Kashmir Valley and the Pir Panjal Range.
Another study conducted by the Oregon State University America also suggests the same. According to the study conducted there, an earthquake of magnitude eight or even high can hit the valley.
Furthermore, the study also showed that the Riasi fault has been building up pressure for some time, and its energy release could result in an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 or greater.
Nevertheless, as of now nothing can be stated or confirmed as there has been no legal advisory issued. Also, nothing has been confirmed by the Indian Meteorological Department.
It is pertinent to mention that the 2005 earthquake was the major earthquake Kashmir witnessed. The earthquake occurred at around 8:50 in the morning of October eight.
The epicentre of the earthquake was near Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. Shocks were also felt in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, India, and the Xinjiang region.
More than 80,000 people were killed. It is considered to be one of the deadliest earthquakes to have jolted the South Asia region in contemporary times. In the region of Jammu and Kashmir, an estimated 1,350 people were killed and 6,266 injured in the earthquake.
Since more and more small earthquakes have already jolted the valley, people have mixed beliefs and reactions to them. Some people believe that these small tremors and shocks are averting bigger earthquakes like Turkey.
While others believe that these small tremors are foreshocks of a possible bigger earthquake. But what is worth mentioning here is that the destruction caused by the 2005 earthquake still has lasting effects on the minds of people. And the fear of losing loss is making them vulnerable.
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