Why Delhi-NCR Shakes: Exploring the Capital’s Seismic Activity
In recent news, Delhi and its surrounding areas in the National Capital Region (NCR) have once again experienced seismic activity, with two significant earthquakes occurring within just 15 days. On Sunday, an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.1 struck Faridabad in Haryana, causing widespread panic, while the capital itself was rocked by strong tremors following a series of quakes in Nepal, the strongest of which measured 6.2 on October 3.
This is not an unusual occurrence for Delhi-NCR, as the region experiences tremors every few months, often coinciding with earthquakes in the Himalayan region. The National Centre for Seismology reported that the epicenter of the Faridabad earthquake was located 9 kilometers east and 30 kilometers southeast of Delhi.
So, why is Delhi-NCR prone to earthquakes, and what causes these recurrent seismic events? To understand this, we need to explore India’s geographical location and its association with seismic activity.
Earthquakes, as we know, involve the sudden and violent shaking of the Earth’s surface. They can range from mild tremors to devastating quakes, resulting from the release of accumulated stress along the moving lithospheric or crustal plates. India, situated in a seismically active region, experiences a high frequency of earthquakes due to its position on the boundary of several tectonic plates.
The Indian subcontinent is divided into several major and minor plates, which move slowly but continuously. Earthquakes are primarily tectonic in origin, meaning that they occur as a result of the movement of these plates, which leads to the release of energy. When two plates interact along fault lines, this energy is released, causing the Earth’s surface to shake. This movement can be particularly devastating in densely populated areas, leading to the loss of lives and extensive property damage.
India has experienced several major earthquakes in the last century, resulting in significant casualties. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) states that over 59% of India’s land area is under a “moderate to severe seismic hazard,” with the entire Himalayan region considered to be at high risk for earthquakes exceeding magnitude 8.0. The Himalayas are young fold mountains formed by the collision of the Indian and Nepalese tectonic plates, making the entire region susceptible to frequent earthquakes.
In the past 50 years, the Himalayan region has witnessed four major earthquakes with magnitudes exceeding 8.0. As a result, the likelihood of “very severe” earthquakes in this area is a cause for concern. Furthermore, regions outside the Himalayas, which were previously considered relatively safe, have seen seismic activity in recent years.
Delhi, part of the high-risk Zone IV in India’s seismic zoning map, is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes due to its proximity to the Himalayas. It often experiences earthquakes ranging from 4 to 4.5 in magnitude. The Delhi-NCR region’s geological location, sandwiched between the Himalayas and the Aravalli-Delhi Fold Belt, contributes to its frequent seismic events.
The Delhi-Aravalli range, which is significantly older than the Himalayas, was formed through similar tectonic activity and ongoing geological processes. While these movements may lead to minor earthquakes in the region, they are typically not a cause for alarm. The real concern lies in the Himalayan region, where major earthquakes can have devastating consequences for towns and cities like Delhi.
In conclusion, the frequent earthquakes experienced in Delhi-NCR are a result of India’s location in a seismically active region, with the Himalayas being a prominent contributor to the seismic activity. While the region continues to face tremors, it is the Himalayan earthquakes that pose a more significant threat to the safety of Delhi and its residents.