Bangladesh is at high earthquake risk for its geographic location

BTJ Desk Report | Earthquake Special
Bangladesh is at high earthquake risk for its geographic location

The recent earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria have killed thousands and injured thousand more.

This earthquake is considered to be one of the worst earthquakes in the world in recent times.

Scientists said that this terrible earthquake was created when the Arabian plate under the ground of the area moved northwards and pushed against the Anatolian plate.

The Earth’s surface is made up of separate bits, or plate tectonics, that float on top of the soft substances and there are seven major such plates and numerous smaller sub-plates all over the Earth.

There are several countries and regions in the world that are located around such large plates or sub-plates and Bangladesh is one such country.

The Burma sub-plate and India plate are located near Bangladesh. Experts fear that an earthquake of magnitude 8 or more may occur in Bangladesh if these plates displace.

Dr Syed Humayun Akhter, the vice-chancellor of Bangladesh Open University, told the BBC that as Bangladesh is located at the intersection of three tectonic plates, a major earthquake can strike Bangladesh at any time.

“The Tibetan sub-plate to the north, the Indian plate to the west, and the Burma sub-plate to the east of Bangladesh. Moreover, the junction of the India plate and the Burma sub-plate runs through the interior of Bangladesh directly to southern Sumatra through Sylhet-Sunamganj, Kishoreganj, and Chittagong,” he added.

He also said that there are two main sources of major earthquakes in Bangladesh.

“Dawki Fault, a source, extends in the Mymensingh-Jamalganj-Sylhet region at the foot of the Shillong Plateau which is about 350 km long. Another source is from Sylhet through Tripura to Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Cox’s Bazar, and Teknaf. This source is very dangerous,” he added.

The location of Bangladesh in the tectonic plate is the junction of the two plates in this mountainous area which is called subduction in geological terms.

“In this zone, the India plate is subducting under the Burma plate towards the east and the Burma plate is subducting towards the west. Due to this reciprocating motion, this force is swelling inside the plate,” he added.

As a result, the amount of energy accumulating there can cause more than 8.2 magnitude earthquakes, he added.

The places where one plate comes into contact with another plate or pushes or cracks are called fault lines and the countries around the fault lines are most prone to earthquakes.

Dhaka University along with Columbia University has been conducting research for two decades.

It has been observed that no seismic energy has been released for a long time at the junction of the India plate and the Burma plate. As a result, energy has accumulated there for 400 to 1,000 years.

The last major earthquakes in Bangladesh occurred in 1822 and 1918 on the Madhupur fault.

Moreover, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake was recorded in Manikganj, near Dhaka, in 1885.

Scientists fear that there is a risk of an earthquake in Sunamganj, Jaflong part of the Dawki Fault in the eastern end.

Dr Humayun fears that if an earthquake occurs on these faults, the risk of major damage or the level of danger is very high in all of Bangladesh including Dhaka.

“If such an earthquake occurs in Bangladesh, its damage level will exceed even Türkiye,” he alarmed.

The United Nations launched a program called the Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program to identify earthquake-prone areas of the world. Its purpose was to create a map of the world’s earthquake-prone regions, to help prepare to avoid damage.

Under that project, the world was divided into regions based on data and research on past earthquakes.

Apart from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Iran, China, Türkiye, Japan, Indonesia, United States, Canada, and Chile are regions currently under the special attention of scientists.


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