The History and Science behind the Nepal Earthquake

With the massive earthquake (7.8 magnitude) that hit Nepal on April 26 and that led to thousands of fatalities and injuries plus considerable damage, many may be wondering, why now and why Nepal?

The Effect of the Earthquake:

Photos of the before and after affects of the earthquake.

The Himalaya mountain range borders this region, and many climbers were in the process of climbing when the earthquake struck and caused avalanches and rock falls in the area.

[embedvideo id=”DKQl8K2cz4w” website=”youtube”]

A popular climber has been regularly posting video updates via social media.

The History and Science of the Earthquake:

Documents from as far back as the 13th century record major earthquakes hitting this same region. This area has a long history of earthquakes; a similar sized earthquake occurred in 1934, killing more than 16,000 people. Historical records have even indicated that massive quakes happen roughly every 75 years. While scientists can recognize trends with these movements, they cannot accurately predict when one will happen.

“If you have 10 (earthquake) events over 10,000 years, you can average it out. But that doesn’t mean each cycle will happen on that year,” said Laurent Godin, a structural geology and tectonics professor at Queen’s University and a Himalayas expert. “It’s not that precise, unfortunately.”  –The Star

About 50 million years ago, tectonic plates collided with one another. The force of these plates caused the Himalayan mountain range. These plates are still moving today, about 1.7 inches a year, and as they shift along the fault line they build a tremendous amount of energy that must release, eventually resulting in an earthquake.


The Magnitude Levels:

Click the image below to access the activity from our Activity Center to see the varying magnitude levels of an earthquake.

Richter Scale

How to Help:

Google Person Finder allows users to request or share information on missing persons.

Thousands of earthquake victims are in need of food, water, clothes, and shelter. Many organizations provide aid and are collecting funds for aid work. Both organizations listed below will donate at least 99% of collections to relief efforts.

MAP International

Direct Relief

Image – DFID – UK Department for International Development / CC by 2.0

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