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Another big quake to hit Earth? Massive tremor 2,500 years ago could have changed Ganga's course

A powerful earthquake 2500 years ago, with a magnitude between 7 and 8, dramatically altered the Ganga River's course, potentially affecting up to 140 million people, according to a new study in Nature Communications.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 New Delhi Published on: June 18, 2024 13:12 IST
Image Source : FILE PHOTO Representational picture of an earthquake.

Approximately 2500 years ago, a powerful earthquake struck the Earth, dramatically altering the course of the Ganga River. According to a new study published in Nature Communications, this earthquake had a magnitude between 7 and 8 on the Richter scale. Researchers have found evidence suggesting that this event could have affected up to 140 million people.

Earthquake of 7-8 magnitude

In 2018, researchers investigating the main course of the Ganga River identified seismic formations in Bangladesh, which were the result of the earthquake. Their chemical analysis of sand and mud indicated that this area experienced a significant earthquake around 2500 years ago.

Researchers' insights

Researcher Steckler noted, "This could easily displace anything and anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time." Lead author Elizabeth L. Chamberlain, an assistant professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, highlighted that this study provides the first concrete example of delta eradication for a large river like the Ganga. Using satellite images, the research team traced the old main course of the Ganga River about 100 kilometers south of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This path was found to be a lowland area approximately 1.5 kilometers wide, running parallel to the current river route for about 100 kilometers.

Possibility of another major earthquake

The authors indicated that a subduction zone exists to the south and east, where a massive oceanic plate is pushing under Bangladesh, Myanmar, and northeast India. Another possibility is seismic activity in the Himalayan foothills to the north, where the Indian subcontinent is gradually colliding with the rest of Asia.

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