Kathmandu earthquake risk

“Much Bigger Kathmandu Earthquake Risks Very High,” says Study

We are well aware of the devastation an earthquake can bring. Those of us who were lucky enough to survive it remember and pray for those who didn’t. And a new study suggests that risks for Kathmandu earthquake much greater Magnitude than the April 2015 is very high.

Wait! I do NOT want to scare you people. I’m not saying that you should pack your bags and move out. Before you end up spending sleepless nights scared something might happen. Or say that we’re spreading terror across the common folk, let me clear things up. This conclusion comes from a well-documented study published recently in the Journal of Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The journal is published by Elsevier. It is one of the world’s major providers of scientific, technical, and medical information, and a technology company originally established in 1880. You can read the abstract of the Journal Article here.

“Geological observations on large earthquakes along the Himalayan frontal fault near Kathmandu, Nepal” 

So, now that we’re clear about sources, let’s get to the findings of the study.

Six scientists—three Nepalis, three foreigners—came together to examine structural, stratigraphic, and radiocarbon relationships in exposures created by emplacement of trenches across the Himalayan Frontal Thrust (HFT) where it has produced scarps in young alluvium at the mouths of major rivers at Tribeni and Bagmati. The team visited the Kathmandu region a number of times to study the fault lines. Their methodology included digging two deep trenches near the mouths of major rivers at Tribeni and Bagmati.

Okay, too technical, I know.

The scientists conducted a field research and analysis after the 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal. The earthquake that killed 9,000 people and destroyed 600,000 structures.

One of the scientists, Steve Wesnousky from the University of Nevada, has been studying the Himalayan Frontal Fault for 20 years.

We conducted a number of paleoearthquake studies in the vicinity of Kathmandu in the past year, digging trenches and studying soils and faultlines looking back over the past 2,000 years. Coupled with the historical record, it is apparent the faults are capable of earthquakes far greater than the Gorkha earthquake,” said Wesnousky.

We are still receiving aftershocks from the last year’s earthquake. It could be viewed as a warning of a more powerful earthquake that could come up with effects that are even more devastating.

The team observed that the Tribeni site is in the later stages of strain accumulation before a large earthquake. The site is probably approaching with an earthquake. It is possible that the earthquake could produce 15 to 30 feet high fractures in the earth.

The Findings:

The sum of their observations suggests that the HFT extending from Tribeni to Bagmati may rupture simultaneously. The next great earthquake near Kathmandu may rupture an area significantly greater than Gorkha earthquake did.

One can wisely consider that the faults nearby Kathmandu are in the later stages of accumulation. It may bring to Kathmandu earthquake that is of a much higher magnitude, what they refer to as a “greater thrust earthquake”.

The evidence suggests that the most recent rupture at Tribeni most likely occurred between 1221–1262 AD to produce a scarp (a very steep slope) of approx. 7 m or 23 feet.

Similarly, in the Bagmati, the scarp is of approx. 10 m or 33 feet, possibly greater, and most likely formed between 1031–1321 AD.

Furthermore, the study should be taken for informative purposes only. We should use it as a precautionary statement to make Kathmandu, and Nepal, stronger and more resistant to earthquakes. There is a possibility for a great Kathmandu earthquake happening. However, the when-abouts of it are fairly uncertain.


We at NepalBuzz are strongly against the circulation of false news. So, please don’t share it as an earthquake prediction.

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Wesnousky, S. G., Kumahara, Y., Chamlagain, D., Pierce, I. K., Karki, A., & Gautam, D. (2016, November 3). Geological observations on large earthquakes along the Himalayan frontal fault near Kathmandu, Nepal. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 457, 366–375.

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