Natural Hazards

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 589–603 | Cite as

Macroseismic field observations of 18 September 2011 Sikkim earthquake

  • A. K. Mahajan
  • Vikram Gupta
  • V. C. Thakur
Original Paper


A shallow-focus damaging earthquake of magnitude 6.9 Mw struck the Sikkim Himalaya, north-east India, on 18 September 2011 at 12:40:48 UTC (06:10:48PM IST). The epicentre was located north-west of Chungthang on Indo-Nepal border of Sikkim Himalaya. The earthquake was widely felt in northern India and caused widespread damage to poorly built and framed structures in Sikkim region, northern Bihar, eastern Nepal, southern Bhutan and part of Tibet adjoining Sikkim Himalaya. A lot of secondary effects in the form of landslides, rockfalls and landslide lake outburst flood were caused due to strong shaking effect of the earthquake. Maximum intensity IX according to the European Macroseismic Scale-98 was observed in the meizoseismal zone surrounding Chungthang village. Asymmetrical distribution and heterogeneous damage pattern demonstrate intensity attenuation characteristics of the region. Although the regional tectonic framework of Sikkim region indicates compressional thrust tectonics regime, according to CMT fault-plane solution this earthquake involved predominantly strike-slip motion on a steep fault. Unlike Nepal and north-west Himalaya where microseismicity and large earthquakes indicate thrust mechanism, this Sikkim earthquake suggests that strike-slip principal component may imply transcurrent deformation.


Sikkim earthquake Transcurrent deformation Macroseismic observation 



The authors thank Prof. Anil Kumar Gupta, Director, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehra Dun, for supporting the field investigation immediately after the occurrence of earthquake, as well as his constant encouragement to publish the results of the study. The authors thank Sikkim state administration especially District Magistrate, Mangan, North Sikkim, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Chungthang, Army Unit at Chungthang, and Managing Director, Tista Urja, and Pawan Hans authorities for providing Heli facility to visit north Sikkim earthquake-affected region.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wadia Institute of Himalayan GeologyDehra DunIndia

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