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How The Deadly Nepal Earthquake Happened [Infographic]

Stashed in: Science!, India, Infographics!, India, Geology, Geology!, Everest!, Everest

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India is "docking" onto Asia by being thrust under the Himalaya. Not an optimal location for human life. :(

By the way, this is how California became part of North America. Essentially an entire crustal plate, the Farallon Plate, slid under what is now the western part of the US until it was "used up". Now instead of a thrust fault there is a strike-slip fault and a bunch of volcanoes.

So it's natural but incredibly inconvenient to the current residents. 

Between 55 million and 40 million years ago, the northern edge of what is now India began to slam into the giant slab of Earth's crust that today carries Nepal and Tibet. This ancient collision had a terrible after-effect this past Saturday: The deadly earthquake, centered in Nepal, which had an estimated death toll of nearly 4,000 people as of Monday evening.India bulled its way under Nepal those many millions of years ago, shoving the northern land skyward. That move began to create the towering Himalaya, including Mt. Everest. The collision is still going on, as India moves several centimeters north each year, and this has created an unstable fissure in the planet's crust, known as the Himalayan frontal thrust fault. This boundary zone, shown below, continues to release enormous earthquakes. Saturday's magnitude 7.8 disaster appears to overlap a segment that released a 8.1 magnitude quake in 1934, according to Susan Hough, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, California. That quake killed an estimated 10,700 people.

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