Geologists have warned of a major earthquake in the Delhi national capital region after 10 low to moderate intensity tremors in the span of a month-and-a-half. The tremors could indicate a major earthquake is brewing in the region and could hit in the future. Dr Kalachand Sain, Chief of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, said: “We cannot predict time, place or exact scale, but do believe that there is a consistent seismic activity going around in the NCR region and can trigger in a major earthquake in Delhi.”
India’s capital sits in a highly seismic region and the NCR covers some 573 square miles. Tens of millions of people live in this part of the country. Sunday’s 6.8 magnitude earthquake on the Sikkim-Nepal border has wreaked havoc in the Himalayan country and the north- east Indian state, but scientists say the likelihood of a much greater earthquake in north India remains.
“Technically, this is classified as a moderate quake (with a magnitude less than 7); however a great quake (above 7.5 on the Richter is imminent in this region. Unfortunately, we can’t predict when,” said Ajit Tyagi, director general, India Meteorological Department.
The conviction of seismologists that a major quake is imminent in the region rests largely on historical precedent. Between 1897 and 1950, India saw five devastating earthquakes between and 7.9 and 8.5 on the Richter scale and the subsequent 60 years haven’t seen anything on a comparable basis.
Scientists infer that this is too long a time without a temblor of significant size in the region. Sikkim as well as most of north India falls in zones 4 and 5, regions classified as highly vulnerable to high intensity quakes. Between 12 April and 29 May this year, the National Centre for Seismology has recorded 10 earthquakes in the Delhi NCR.
On Friday, 29 May, two tremors shook Delhi, peaking at magnitude 4.5 on the Richter scale. Professor Ghose said: “At Richter scale 6.0, the effect of the earthquake in Delhi would be devastating. Many buildings would be razed to dust.”
Comparing the situation to Japan, the earthquake expert said the country “religiously” follows constructions codes.