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‘Far deadlier had it been shallower’

Expert says afters­hocks will lessen in intens­ity over time.

Expert says aftershocks will lessen in intensity over time. PHOTO: QAU.EDU.PK

Expert says aftershocks will lessen in intensity over time. PHOTO: QAU.EDU.PK

ISLAMABAD: The earthquake, which shook northern parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan on Monday, could have caused even more damage, had it been shallower.

Professor Dr Muhammad Gulraiz Akhter, who is chairperson of the Department of Earth Sciences at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad, told The Express Tribune that Monday’s quake was located at an intermediate depth of 210 kilometres.

In contrast, the earthquake in Muzaffarabad in 2005 was quite shallow, under 75km deep. That is why that earthquake had caused more widespread damage. Similarly, the earthquake in Nepal earlier this year had taken place at a depth of just 8.2km

He further explained that the earthquake was caused when two plates named India and Eurasia in the Hindu Kush range collided with each other. This collision produced high intensity of energy and when this energy found a weak spot in the earth’s crust, it caused the quake.

The professor said that in his view earthquakes of such intensity usually recur in a cyclical manner. In this regard, Monday’s earthquake seems to have been part of the 10 year cycle since the 2005 quake.

Aftershocks to dissipate over time

Dr Akhter said that while earthquakes are difficult to predict, they could expect the intensity of aftershocks to lessen over the next 24 hours.

There have been at least 14 aftershocks since the earthquake with their intensity falling from 5.3 to 3.5 on the Richter scale.

The chief meteorologist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department said they could expect aftershocks for the next 30 days. Since Pakistan is on the fault line, Dr Akhtar advised that all homes and buildings should be constructed by incorporating quake-proof measures.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2015.

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