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There are scientific reasons behind Nepal like earthquakes, but still science unable to predict their timing
It was 11.39 AM, April 25, 2015 and the day was Saturday. People in India's neighbouring country Nepal and people in northern India - New Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, or eastern states like West Bengal or Bihar - were busy in their routine work either in their offices or at home.
Suddenly the earth below them started moving. Initially they didn't get any idea of what was exactly happening. But moments later people in these two countries were running out of their houses and offices shouting, "earthquake, earthquake".

News channels were abuzz of earthquake headlines. And the horrific news of destruction was coming from Nepal's capital city Kathmandu, which was the epicentre of the earthquake of 7.9 magnitude. Hours later it was realised that some very iconic buildings, tourist attractions in Kathmandu has turned into debris. People were running from and here there searching for their dear and near ones.

Today is May 5, and as per the latest reports coming in more than 7000 people have died in Nepal and the government there is saying that the death toll could rise further with progress in relief and rescue operations.

The earthquake claimed lives of more than 60 people in India also, with maximum casualties in eastern state of Bihar.

The reason being given behind this deadly earthquake was shifting of Indian tectonic plates towards Eurasian plates, and the energy that was generated during this process.

We spoke to Dr. Saumitra Mukherjee, professor of Geology and Remote Sensing at Jawaharlal Nehru University's School of Environmental Sciences, to understand more about the scary earthquake, which caused wide scale destruction in Nepal and has created fear among people in India.

Q: The reason of the devastating earthquake in Nepal and in some parts of India is said to be the shifting of Indian tectonic plate towards Eurasian plates. Why this shift is taking place and when the plates could settle down?

Dr. Saumitra Mukherjee: It is well know that as per the plate tectonic theory the Indian plate is moving towards the Eurasian plate at the rate of 5 to 6 cm per year, so in that way there is a continuous movement and that is why the Himalayas are continuously growing. Due to this movement there is a buckling effect in Himalayas and the mountain is continuously rising up. To understand this a geological and a geochronological understanding is essential. So the rocks which are in the Indian side are mainly metamorphic rocks, which cannot sustain maximum stress, so the moment the stress is increasing they give the small blocks, and after some times they become large blocks and then they break. That is the event of the earthquake and this breakage is followed by a theory which is known as elastic rebound theory."

Dr. Saumitra Mukherjee added: Within this elastic rebound theory the whole part of the rock that undergoes a stress and at the point of the maximum stress it breaks down, during the earthquake and that is the manifestation of destruction of the building that is above that. After the earthquake according to the elastic rebound theory, the rocks readjust themselves so while readjusting they again try to come up and go down and during the process of adjustment again some breakage of the rocks takes place which are manifested as aftershocks. So, most of the times the after shocks are less than the major shocks. This time it was 8.5 and later it was 7.9 followed by 6 and then 5.4. There will be aftershocks for a continuous period it may extend till six months. Even in Delhi also, we have instruments here that felt minor shocks which were coming even before the earthquake. So these are micro-tremors and this record of micro-tremors and due to these manifestations which need to be recorded by using the high resolution satellite data. Because whenever there is any change in the surface, all the time we cannot peep inside the earth. Our limitations are that on the success what are the limitations that are taking place. So a geologist who knows the remote sensing, that means a remote sensing geologist can understand the pulse of the earth by identifying those active fault areas and can handle these manifestation.

Q: Why it is impossible to predict an earthquake despite science doing so much of progress?

Dr. Saumitra Mukherjee: Unfortunately in these developing countries like India and Nepal, this science is being handled by a group of managers who are not the expert of that particular subject. For example, those who have more proximity to the politicians or the power, they are handling these programs and even the disaster management is an after disaster. In meteorology department they are only recording the intensity of shock that is after it has occurred, but something has to be done before the earthquake. A preparedness is required for the disaster management group and at the same time there should be a center that should be devoted for the long term as well as short term earthquake predictions. There is something which we are observing that is coming from beyond the earth, i.e. extra terrestrial that is the change in the space weather between Sun and the Earth. There is also some differences between the magnetic field between the earth and the sun and when the magnetic field clips and that is the triggering point, which may trigger the earthquake. One needs to know the manifestation of moving of the plates by change in the earth surface and that can be done by very high resolution satellite data. A center for earthquake prediction is to be set up and then it can be worked out. We have sufficient number of geologists in our country and Geological Survey of India is there and there are remote sensing satellite data also available in our country. So if there is a will there is a way. If governments want they can establish a prediction centre and they can find out suitable geologist who can do the remote sensing also."

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