Why Delhi, its neighbouring areas feel earthquake tremors frequently?

Delhi Witnesses Third Earthquake in a Month” shows the heightened seismic activity in Delhi and its neighbouring regions, specifically focusing on the three distinct tremors experienced in October 2023. The latest tremor, which occurred on November 3, 2023, originated from a 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Nepal.

A relatively milder tremor of magnitude 3.1 was registered, originating near Haryana’s Faridabad, a region in close proximity to Delhi. Similar to the tremor on October 30, a 3.1 magnitude tremor was felt in the Delhi-NCR region with its epicentre near Haryana’s Faridabad. This article will explain why is it so frequent in Delhi and what are the reasons for it.

What are the reasons for Frequent earthquakes?

Proximity to Fault Lines- Fault lines are fractures in the Earth’s crust along which movement has occurred. Delhi’s proximity to several active fault lines such as the Sohna Fault, Mahendragarh-Dehradun Fault, and the Mathura Fault increases its susceptibility to earthquakes. The movements along these faults release collected stress in the form of seismic waves, resulting in tremors.

Seismic Zone Classification- India is divided into four seismic zones (II, III, IV, and V) based on the historical occurrence of earthquakes, tectonic geology, and geophysical and geological characteristics of the regions. Delhi falls into Seismic Zone IV, indicating a high seismic risk with a potential for damaging earthquakes. This classification highlights the region’s inherent defenselessness to seismic events.

The Indo-Gangetic plain, where Delhi is located, is covered by thick layers of alluvial soil. This type of soil is loose and unconsolidated, properties which can amplify seismic waves. When an earthquake occurs, the waves travelling through the soft soil cause more significant ground shaking compared to regions with more solid, rocky ground.

Proximity to the Himalayan Belt The Himalayan belt is one of the most seismically active regions in the world due to the ongoing tectonic collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates. The Indian subcontinent is moving northward towards the Eurasian Plate at a rate of about 5 centimetres per year. This tectonic activity generates stress along the plate boundaries, which, when released, causes earthquakes.

The collision zone of the Indian and Eurasian plates is a significant source of seismic activity affecting the northern parts of India, including Delhi and its neighbouring areas. Delhi’s proximity to this seismic belt significantly elevates its risk of experiencing earthquake tremors.

Delhi’s Building Pattern and Earthquake Risk

The way Delhi and its nearby areas are built adds to the risk during earthquakes, besides the natural factors. The place has many tall buildings and large areas of less formal housing. Especially risky are areas near the Yamuna and Hindon Rivers where many tall buildings stand. Old parts of Delhi and some colonies near the river also add to this risk.

Experts say there could be a big earthquake in this area in the future. There are special rules for building that can help make structures safer during earthquakes, but these rules are not always followed. Also, there are many old buildings in Delhi that were built before these rules existed. These old buildings can be very dangerous during earthquakes.

The Need of Mock Drills

Kuldeep Singh Gangar, who was the CEO of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), says more practice drills should be done often to teach people what to do if there’s a natural disaster like an earthquake. He mentioned that Delhi is at risk of facing a big earthquake, but people are not ready enough for it. In simple terms, he’s suggesting more practice so people know what to do to stay safe during earthquakes.

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