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A massive earthquake redirected the Ganges 2,500 years ago: a study

A massive earthquake redirected the Ganges 2,500 years ago: a study
A massive earthquake redirected the Ganges 2,500 years ago: a study


Ganges river in Shukratal


A large 7- or 8-magnitude earthquake about 2,500 years ago changed the course of the Ganges River, and the densely populated region of Bangladesh remains vulnerable and could see ripple effects from tremors if another major quake hits, a team of American researchers said on Monday. .

The study, conducted by geophysicists at the Columbia Climatology School in the United States and published in the journal Nature Communications, said the previously undocumented earthquake redirected the main channel of the Ganges River in what is now densely populated Bangladesh, which is still vulnerable to large earthquakes.

Scientists have documented many changes in the river's course, called fluctuations, including some in response to earthquakes.

“It has never been confirmed before that earthquakes can trigger fluctuations in a delta, especially for a massive river like the Ganges,” said Liz Chamberlain, the study's lead author and an assistant professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Through satellite images, Chamberlain and the team spotted what they say is likely the river's former main channel, about 100 kilometers south of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

This is a low-lying area about 1.5 km wide that can be found intermittently for about 100 km parallel to the current river course.

It is full of mud and often floods and is mainly used for rice cultivation.

Chamberlain and other researchers found recent fossils of a pond that was not yet filled with water.

They spotted sand volcanoes erupting on the surface. They are called “earthquakes”, are 30 or 40 centimeters wide, and cut through 3 or 4 meters of clay.

Further investigation showed that the earthquakes were directed in a systematic pattern, suggesting that they were all generated at the same time.

Chemical analysis of sand grains and clay particles showed that volcanic eruptions and channel abandonment and filling occurred about 2,500 years ago.

Furthermore, there was a similar site about 85 kilometers downstream in the ancient channel that filled with clay at the same time.

The conclusion: This was a large, sudden overturn caused by an earthquake estimated at magnitude 7 or 8, according to the study funded by the US National Science Foundation.

A 2016 study by Michael Stickler, a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, part of the Columbia Climate School, showed that these regions are now experiencing stress and can produce earthquakes similar to those that occurred 2,500 years ago.

The last wave of this size occurred in 1762, triggering a deadly tsunami that traveled up the river to Dhaka. Another probably occurred around 1140 AD.

“Large earthquakes affect large areas and can have long-lasting economic, social and political impacts,” said Syed Humayun Akhtar, Vice Chancellor of Bangladesh Open University.


The above article was published from a news agency with minimal modifications to the title and text.




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