Geophysics

Balancing the Himalayan strain budget

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Science  25 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6280, pp. 1412-1413
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6280.1412-a

Nepal, 1st May 2015 — A man standing on the ruins of what used to be his home in Bhaktapur, near Kathmandu

CREDIT: © OTO ŽAN/DEMOTIX/CORBIS

Subduction zones are known to occasionally unleash huge earthquakes with magnitudes of 9 or larger. It is unclear whether continental thrusts can produce quakes that large, even though they share some common features with subduction zones. Stevens and Avouac address this question by comparing geodetic strain with the historic earthquake record of the Main Himalayan Thrust. Closing the strain budget seems to require magnitude 9 or larger earthquakes every 800 years on average. This finding underscores the high level of seismic hazard along the Himalayas.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 10.1002/2015GL067336 (2016).

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