Seismotectonics of the Nepal Himalaya from a local seismic network

M. R. Pandey, R. P. Tandukar, J. P. Avouac, J. Vergne, Th Héritier

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220 Citations (Scopus)


The National Seismological Network of Nepal consists of 17 short period seismic stations operated since 1994. It provides an exceptional view of the microseismic activity over nearly one third of the Himalayan arc, including the only segment, between longitudes 78°E and 85°E, that has not produced any M > 8 earthquakes over the last century. It shows a belt of seismicity that follows approximately the front of the Higher Himalaya with most of the seismic moment being released at depths between 10 and 20 km. This belt of seismicity is interpreted to reflect interseismic stress accumulation in the upper crust associated with creep in the lower crust beneath the Higher Himalaya. The seismic activity is more intense around 82°E in Far-Western Nepal and around 87°E in Eastern Nepal. Western Nepal, between 82.5 and 85°E, is characterized by a particularly low level of seismic activity. We propose that these lateral variations are related to segmentation of the Main Himalayan Thrust Fault. The major junctions between the different segments would thus lie at about 87°E and 82°E with possibly an intermediate one at about 85°E. These junctions seem to coincide with some of the active normal faults in Southern Tibet. Lateral variation of seismic activity is also found to correlate with lateral variations of geological structures suggesting that segmentation is a long-lived feature. We infer four 250-400 km long segments that could produce earthquakes comparable to the M = 8.4 Bihar-Nepal earthquake that struck eastern Nepal in 1934. Assuming the model of the characteristic earthquake, the recurrence interval between two such earthquakes on a given segment is between 130 and 260 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-712
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Oct 1999


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