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Scientists Warned of Potential for Large Earthquake in Uttarakhand Prior to Recent Seismic Activity

On Wednesday, February 23, 2023, an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.4 on the Richter scale hit Nepal, with its effects being felt by residents of Uttarakhand, India. The quake was followed by mild tremors in the region, causing worry and concern among the residents, especially those living in the Chamoli district. This incident has once again brought to light the potential for large earthquakes in the region, as warned by scientists in the past.

Picture: Kumaon Jagran

N Purnachandra Rao, the chief scientist at Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), had previously warned that Uttarakhand was at risk of experiencing a large earthquake at any time. This warning was based on an analysis of geological and historical data sets. The potential for earthquakes is high in the Himalayan region as the mountains are young and evolving, with recurrent seismic activity being observed in the past few weeks.

The recent earthquake in Nepal was felt in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, where Joshimath town recorded land subsidence and cracks. This has left the residents of the sinking town worried, especially in the wake of the ongoing crisis. Nitin Kumar, a resident of Karnaprayag in Chamoli district, expressed his concern, saying, "We are seeing land subsidence, and on top of it, there is the threat of earthquakes. This is a matter of concern for us."

The state of Uttarakhand has been experiencing mild tremors for the past decade, with at least 700 tremors observed in the region. According to scientists, this is a result of the release of energy by tectonic plates in the form of very mild tremors. The state falls within the seismic gap, which means that no earthquake above the magnitude of 8 or above has been experienced in the region for over 100 years. However, with the recent seismic activity in the region, this gap may no longer be relevant.

The potential for large earthquakes in the region has long been recognized by scientists, and measures have been taken to mitigate the impact of such earthquakes. For instance, the government has established a network of seismic monitoring stations and has mandated that all new construction must comply with earthquake-resistant building codes. However, despite these measures, the risk of a large earthquake in the region remains high.

In conclusion, the recent earthquake in Nepal and the recurrent seismic activity in Uttarakhand serve as a reminder of the potential for large earthquakes in the region. While measures have been taken to mitigate the impact of such earthquakes, it is crucial that the government and residents of the region remain vigilant and prepared for any eventuality.

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