In DepthSeismology

Nepal disaster presages a coming megaquake

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Science  01 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6234, pp. 484-485
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6234.484

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Geophysicists studying the rupture mechanics of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal have made a startling discovery: that the quake extended deep into the Himalayas, into a region that many scientists had deemed incapable of explosive tearing. The rupture extended past a "lock line" where brittle rock becomes more plastic in its behavior—a region where slip was expected to creep along quietly and not contribute to the overall power of the earthquake. The discovery suggests that, as awful as the present disaster is, future earthquakes in the Himalayas could end up being mightier and more calamitous than modelers assumed.