Taxonomy term


Dehydrated sediment layer made Sumatra quake stronger

Subduction zones are notorious for unleashing great earthquakes and tsunamis, such as the 2004 magnitude-9.1 Sumatra quake that caused shaking and inundations that killed more than 250,000 people and left millions more homeless. However, despite the dangerous reputations of subduction zones, their hazards are still often underestimated. New research reveals how sediments in the Sumatra Trench may have contributed to producing an even bigger earthquake and tsunami than hazard forecasts had estimated.

07 Sep 2017

"The Himalaya Connection": Telling a story of geoscientific exploration on film

A filmmaker describes the triumphs and travails of six trips to Asia to capture footage and interviews for a forthcoming PBS documentary about the Himalayas and the earth scientists who are working to protect the region’s inhabitants from natural hazards. |
14 Jun 2017

Tilted Himalayan temples hold clues to past shaking

The Himalayan Mountains have not been raised gently. The ongoing collision between India and Asia that has uplifted the highest mountain range on Earth is punctuated by large earthquakes. But one region in the northwest Himalaya, known as the Kashmir seismic gap, has remained eerily quiet, save for a magnitude-7.8 event in 1905, and a mysterious quake in 1555. Now, a new study looking at damaged temples in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh in India, within the seismic gap, is shedding some light on the two historical quakes.

18 Nov 2016

Medieval earthquakes in Nepal may help reveal the region's tectonic future

The magnitude-7.8 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 triggered landslides and damage that killed more than 8,500 people and injured at least 20,000, including many in and around Pokhara, the country’s second largest city. In a new study, scientists have found evidence that the city — also a major center of tourism in Nepal — and its surroundings sit atop debris from several large medieval-age quakes, confirming that the recent temblor is only the latest in a region with a long history of major earthquakes.

21 Apr 2016

Himalayas get a new birthdate

The Himalayas are the highest and widest mountain range on the planet, but when they began forming has never been clear. In a new study, researchers have now pinpointed the date of the initial collision between India and Eurasia that led to the birth of the Himalayas.

05 Mar 2016

Travels in Geology: A trek through Himalayan geology in Nepal

A doctoral student escapes the lab to trek through the Himalayan geology that’s the subject of his isotope geochemistry research.

27 Apr 2015

Arsenic levels in China may be predicted by modeling

In China, arsenic poisoning from groundwater has been a known chronic health issue since at least the 1970s. From 2001 to 2005, the Chinese Ministry of Health tested 450,000 wells, 13 percent of which exceeded World Health Organization (WHO) arsenic standards. However, numbers could be far worse, as only about 12 percent of Chinese counties were screened.

11 Sep 2013

Arsenic in wells in Vietnam suggests dig-deeper approach has issues

For years, scientists and public health officials have known that arsenic threatens the water supplies of millions of people in the heavily populated floodplains of Southeast Asia. A recent study centers on Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, but has profound implications for the people of the entire region. In Vietnam, arsenic is naturally hosted in sediments drained off the Himalayas, which wash into the Mekong.

10 Sep 2013

Karakoram glaciers buck global, regional trends

When it comes to glaciers, stability represents a refreshing change of pace. In contrast to regional and global trends — which, scientists say, have unambiguously indicated ice loss in recent decades — a team of French glaciologists has confirmed that glaciers in a portion of the northwestern Himalayas remained stable on average, or may have even grown slightly, in recent years. The results have implications for local water supplies and glacial hazards and, the team says, underscore the value of high-resolution monitoring in accurately determining regional-scale glacial changes.

09 Jul 2012

China quake kills at least 400


In 2008, it was the Longmen Shan Fault, a 250-kilometer long thrust fault that divides the 6,500-meter-high Tibetan Plateau from the lower Sichuan basin, which ruptured. However, today's series of quakes occurred several hundred kilometers to the northwest, in the eastern Tibetan Plateau, and were the result of strike-slip faulting, according to USGS.

14 Apr 2010