New Data Lets Scientists Give Earthquakes the Shake Down

C.K. Shum, professor of Geodetic Science at the Ohio State University, co-authored a study in which gravity data captured by satellite has allowed researchers to to take a closer look at the geology deep beneath the Tibetan Plateau.

The article and analysis published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports shows gives an amazingly clear view of rock moving 50 miles under the plateau – the lowest layer of the Earth’s crust. Here, the Indian tectonic plate is inching perpetually northward in the the Eurasian plate, giving rise to the greatest mountain range on earth, but also to recent and devastating earthquakes. One of these killed over 9,000 people in Nepal this year.

The data supports what researchers have long suspected – that the plate movement which created the Himalayan mountain range is also what is causing the deadly earthquakes and is the major driving force of most geophysical processes in the region.

Shum notes that even with this new data earthquake forecasting is, unfortunately, not possible in the near future. He also mentions that in California where they have even more data than this, GPS, seismic and gravity data, researchers still aren’t able to predict earthquakes.

Jody Victor