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Why are earthquakes frequent in Afghanistan?

  • Published
    18th Oct, 2023
Context:

Recently, an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 struck Western Afghanistan, after the one came in Herat province.

  • Multiple earthquakes within a short duration of time have led to the damage of villages and property in Afghanistan.
About Earthquake:
  • An earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth‘s lithosphere that creates seismic waves.
  • Earthquake is the form of energy of wave motion transmitted through the surface layer of the earth.
  • It may be due to faulting, folding, plate movement, volcanic eruptions and anthropogenic factors like dams and reservoirs.

Vulnerability of the Region:

Afghanistan is a tectonically complex zone developed as a result of the collision between the Eurasian plate and the Indian plate to the southeast and the Arabian plate to the south. The active tectonics of the country is distinguished by a wide zone of crustal deformation. A few of the reasons include;

  • Plate Interactions: Afghanistan is situated at the convergence of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, giving rise to heightened tectonic activity.
  • Plate Boundaries: Western Afghanistan experiences subduction of the Arabian plate northward under Eurasia, while the eastern part witnesses similar subduction of the Indian plate.
  • Geological Complexity: Hindu Kush mountain range and Pamir Knot, where plates meet, exhibit complex folding and faulting due to the collision and convergence of plates.
  • Compression and Earthquakes: Northward movement of the Indian Plate towards Eurasia induces compression, leading to the uplift of the Himalayas and transmission of tectonic stress. This causes crustal deformation, generating earthquakes.

Active Fault Systems in Afghanistan:

  • Chaman Fault: A significant fault system in Afghanistan known for its seismic activity.
  • Main Pamir Thrust: Another active fault system contributing to seismic events in the region.

The Location:

  • Afghanistan is located in Central Asia with Iran to the west and Pakistan to the east.
  • It is a landlocked country located in Southern Asia that borders China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • Capital: Kabul
  • Official Language: Dari (Afghan Persian), Pashtu
  • The geography of Afghanistan is arid and mountainous; the Hindu Kush Mountains run northeast to southwest and divide the Northern provinces from the rest of the country.
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