Natural Hazards

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 1211–1224 | Cite as

Global strain rates in western to central Himalayas and their implications in seismic hazard assessment

  • Chhavi ChoudharyEmail author
  • Mukat Lal SharmaEmail author
Original Paper


The Himalayas has experienced varying rates of earthquake occurrence in the past in its seismo-tectonically distinguished segments which may be attributed to different physical processes of accumulation of stress and its release, and due diligence is required for its inclusion for working out the seismic hazard. The present paper intends to revisit the various earthquake occurrence models applied to Himalayas and examines it in the light of recent damaging earthquakes in Himalayan belt. Due to discordant seismicity of Himalayas, three types of regions have been considered to estimate larger return period events. The regions selected are (1) the North-West Himalayan Fold and Thrust Belt which is seismically very active, (2) the Garhwal Himalaya which has never experienced large earthquake although sufficient stress exists and (3) the Nepal region which is very seismically active region due to unlocked rupture and frequently experienced large earthquake events. The seismicity parameters have been revisited using two earthquake recurrence models namely constant seismicity and constant moment release. For constant moment release model, the strain rates have been derived from global strain rate model and are converted into seismic moment of earthquake events considering the geometry of the finite source and the rates being consumed fully by the contemporary seismicity. Probability of earthquake occurrence with time has been estimated for each region using both models and compared assuming Poissonian distribution. The results show that seismicity for North-West region is observed to be relatively less when estimated using constant seismicity model which implies that either the occupied accumulated stress is not being unconfined in the form of earthquakes or the compiled earthquake catalogue is insufficient. Similar trend has been observed for seismic gap area but with lesser difference reported from both methods. However, for the Nepal region, the estimated seismicity by the two methods has been found to be relatively less when estimated using constant moment release model which implies that in the Nepal region, accumulated strain is releasing in the form of large earthquake occurrence event. The partial release in second event of May 2015 of similar size shows that the physical process is trying to release the energy with large earthquake event. If it would have been in other regions like that of seismic gap region, the fault may not have released the energy and may be inviting even bigger event in future. It is, therefore, necessary to look into the seismicity from strain rates also for its due interpretation in terms of predicting the seismic hazard in various segments of Himalayas.


The Himalaya Constant seismicity model Seismic moment Moment release constraint Poisson distribution 



We are thankful to the Department of earthquake engineering for providing all help and support and thankful to Rituraj Nath for helped in preparation of the manuscript. We would like to show our gratitude to reviewers who have very thoroughly reviewed the manuscript which has technically improved the article a lot.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earthquake EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology RoorkeeRoorkeeIndia

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