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Stronger quakes could strike other segments of Nepal fault

7.8 temblor released only some of stress where Indian, Eurasian plates collide

12:07pm, April 28, 2015
earthquake damage in Kathmandu

SHAKE DOWN  A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck April 25 northwest of Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu. Scientists worry that other segments of the seismic fault could produce even more powerful quakes.

The April 25 earthquake that devastated Nepal, killing thousands, isn’t the end of seismic hazards in the region. The magnitude 7.8 earthquake relieved pent-up stress along just one segment of the tectonic plate boundary between India and the rest of Asia. Even larger quakes could strike to the west and in nearby Bhutan to the east, scientists warn.

Where and how intensely future earthquakes will strike depends in part on the shape of the seismic fault responsible for the Nepal quake, something that researchers don’t yet fully understand. But new research in the Himalayas has provided some glimpses into the hidden geology that controls seismic activity across the region. This work suggests that some areas could be even more at risk of strong quakes than previously thought.

“The hazard isn’t gone,” says geologist Kristin Morell of the University of Victoria in Canada. “The Himalayas are a very long mountain belt, and strain is still

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