Nav: Home

University of Montana researcher helps break ground on forecasting earthquakes

June 14, 2016

MISSOULA, Montana - A University of Montana researcher is part of a team whose research is breaking ground on the complexity of earthquakes and the possibility to forecast them. The journal Nature Geoscience features their research online at

Rebecca Bendick, who works in UM's Department of Geosciences, used GPS records of surface motion to map the 7.8 magnitude Gorkha earthquake, which broke a 150-kilometer section of the Himalayas in April 2015, terminating close to Kathmandu.

"Measuring this earthquake tells us that the past history of great Himalayan earthquakes is much more complicated than previously thought," Bendick said.

The Gorkha earthquake failed to rupture the Himalayan faults all the way to the surface. But rapid initial afterslip occurred north of the earthquake under Tibet during the first six months following the quake, releasing aseismic-moment equivalent to a magnitude 7.1 earthquake.

Similar "incomplete" historical earthquakes have occurred in the Himalayas in 1803, 1833, 1905 and 1947.

Bendick said this study shows rather than just rare and extremely large quakes doing all the work, a mixture of smaller and larger quakes cause the Himalayas to edge over India.

"This means our ability to forecast earthquake hazards in the region is even worse than we thought," she said. "The most important and practical message is that residents of the region should be prepared for more frequent, but perhaps less catastrophic quakes."

The area just west of the Gorkha quake, spanning western Nepal and the Indian Himalaya has a very high earthquake hazard, Bendick said, with potential for either a large quake or megaquake.

"The pervasive lack of information transfer from earthquake research to people living in zones of high earthquake hazard has led to hundreds of thousands of fatalities in the past decade, a crisis unlikely to change in the future unless basic earthquake literacy is provided to those at risk," Bendick said.
Researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder; Nepal Academy of Science and Technology; Tribhuvan University; Nepal Survey Department; Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics; and Central Washington University contributed to the study.

For more information on the study, call Bendick at 406-243-5774 or email

The University of Montana

Related Earthquake Articles:

Earthquake symmetry
A recent study investigated around 100,000 localized seismic events to search for patterns in the data.
Crowdsourcing speeds up earthquake monitoring
Data produced by Internet users can help to speed up the detection of earthquakes.
Geophysics: A surprising, cascading earthquake
The Kaikoura earthquake in New Zealand in 2016 caused widespread damage.
How fluid viscosity affects earthquake intensity
A young researcher at EPFL has demonstrated that the viscosity of fluids present in faults has a direct effect on the intensity of earthquakes.
Earthquake in super slo-mo
A big earthquake occurred south of Istanbul in the summer of 2016, but it was so slow that nobody noticed.
A milestone for forecasting earthquake hazards
In a new study in Science Advances, researchers report that their physics-based model of California earthquake hazards replicated estimates from the state's leading statistical model.
Mw 5.4 Pohang earthquake tied to geothermal activity?
The Mw 5.4 Pohang earthquake that occurred near a geothermal site in South Korea last year was likely triggered by fluid injection at the geothermal plant, two separate reports conclude.
Seismologists introduce new measure of earthquake ruptures
A team of seismologists has developed a new measurement of seismic energy release that can be applied to large earthquakes.
Residual strain despite mega earthquake
On Christmas Day 2016, the earth trembled in southern Chile.
The losses that come after the earthquake: Devastating and costly
The study, titled, 'Losses Associated with Secondary Effects in Earthquakes,' published by Frontiers in Built Environmen, looks at the devastation resulting from secondary disasters, such as tsunamis, liquefaction of sediments, fires, landslides, and flooding that occurred during 100 key earthquakes that occurred from 1900 to the present.
More Earthquake News and Earthquake Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.