The ministry will instal multiple micro-seismic surveillance systems at Joshimath, according to Union Earth Sciences Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, in order to research and gather information on whether the region has recently experienced minor earthquakes and tremors. Due to soil subsidence, hundreds of homes as well as roadways in Joshimath, Uttarakhand, started to show cracks earlier this month. Micro-seismic observation centres will be established for the first time in India’s Himalayan region.
The observation systems will be in place by Thursday, Singh stated at the India-UK Workshop of Geosciences in New Delhi.
In his remarks to the workshop, he stressed the urgent need for basic investigation into the physical mechanisms underlying the failure of the brittle layers below the crust and sub-crust. Singh continued by saying that the implementation of mitigation plans is becoming increasingly necessary.
These observation centres will be put up at seven to eight locations outside Joshimath town by a team from the Earth Sciences ministry, departing for Joshimath on Wednesday. Located in seismic Zone V is Joshimath.
“The location and the magnitude are the two main factors that affect earthquake observation. A region may witness earthquakes with a Richter magnitude of 5 if there are at least three observation stations there, and as the number of stations rises, so does the accuracy and the ability to detect much smaller earthquakes. A Ministry official stated, “At the moment, we are unable to trace any earthquake lower than this in the country. There are currently 157 seismic centres in India that assist us in tracking earthquakes of 3.5 magnitude and higher.
Additionally, officials noted that while earthquakes of greater size have a greater impact, much smaller earthquakes, particularly those that are frequent, can have an influence, particularly on the stability of the soil and in particular on slopes like those on which Joshimath is situated.
Additionally, the Joshimath region is already very vulnerable. Joshimath was constructed on a rocky foundation. Therefore, lesser earthquakes might cause instability in a place like Joshimath whereas larger earthquakes can even affect regions with solid, stable ground and large boulders. Through these observations, we will be attempting to ascertain whether the subsidence at Joshimath has occurred as a result of earthquakes, climatic changes, such as an increase in excess precipitation, or whether it is due to non-climatic factors instead, such as the strain of increased development and infrastructure, said the official.
This will be the first time that such observation centres have been established in the Himalayan mountains, despite the fact that many of India’s larger cities already have micro-seismic observatories that serve as the foundation for decisions about infrastructure development, building, and construction. For instance, micro-seismic observatories are already in place in Delhi.
“Discussions are ongoing,” a Ministry official stated. “In the near future, of course, we will have to look at spreading such centres to other sections of the Himalayas as well.”
The Ministry of Earth Sciences has established 37 new seismological centres in the last two years for extensive observation facilities, and Singh Tuesday informed the conference that the ministry plans to establish 100 more seismological centres of this type over the next five years in order to “improve real-time data monitoring and data collection.”
In his remarks to the workshop, Singh added that the scientific understanding of the disaster-causing processes has significantly improved over the past 50 years, and that more international partnerships like the Indo-UK initiative are needed to combat tragedies of this nature. Alex Ellis, the high commissioner for the United Kingdom, Wendy Matcham, the director of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), OP Mishra, the director of the National Centre for Seismology, and Sukanya Kumar, the acting director of UK Research and Innovation India, all attended the two-day workshop.