GUWAHATI: The North East has experienced 13 low to medium intensity earthquakes in June & July this year, leading to concern among people and experts in the seismically-active region.
The development has caused concern among people and experts over the question whether earthquakes at frequent intervals hint about a bigger and strong earthquake in the near future. Experts and geologists are also divided in their opinions.
"Frequent earthquakes in the North East are a cause of concern since the entire region falls in the seismically-active Zone V. In case it is happening in a particular location frequently as pointed out in Assam, Manipur and Mizoram (in the last few months) we should monitor it properly. Our government agencies should find out if it was an indication of a bigger earthquake," an expert at Gauhati University said.
On other hand, Dr Santanu Sarma, Associate Professor at Department of Geology, Cotton University told The Sentinel that frequent occurrence of earthquakes is not always an indicator of the possible occurrence of a bigger earthquake in the near future.
"Occurrence of earthquake is a mean of releasing stresses that are accumulated deep inside the earth because of the relative movement of the tectonic plates. Sometime frequent occurrence of small scale earthquake helps to release the accumulated stresses in phases that ultimately prevent the possible occurrence of an earthquake of bigger scale," Dr Sarma said.
He pointed out, "Whether a big earthquake will strike the North East cannot be predicted just from the history of the past occurrence of earthquakes."
According to Dr Sarma, the North East is situated in a seismic active zone as the region is the meeting point of three major tectonic plates – the Indian plate, the Eurasian Plate and the Burmese plate.
"The relative movement of these plates makes the area very vulnerable as far as the occurrence of earthquake is concerned. The majority of the earthquake epicenter is located in the boundaries of these plates which includes areas of Arunachal Himalaya, Misimi Hills, Naga Patkai Hills. So, the earthquake occurrence in this part of the globe is inevitable, only the time of occurrence and its intensity is unpredictable," Dr Sarma said.
Since February this year, the North East has been rocked by six earthquakes, measuring more than 5 on the Richter scale. Earthquakes measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale shook Assam including Guwahati, Mizoram and Manipur in the months of February, May and June. Earthquakes measuring 5.9, 5.6 and 5.3 on the Richter scale hit Mizoram and parts of Manipur sharing Myanmar border in April and July.
On Saturday (August 8, 2020), an earthquake measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale with its epicenter in Sonitpur district hit parts of central Assam.
Altogether 359 medium to high intensity earthquakes measure 6.6 on the Richter scale rocked the North East in the last four years (2016-2020). The epicenters of 95 of such earthquakes were in Assam.
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