Seismic scales rising: DC alerted

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Is it possible that the state could be hit by a massive earthquake? We’d forewarned the possibility (Danger! State Moving up on the Seismic Zone Scales/December 19, 2011) based on the Bureau of Indian Standards’ (BIS) recommendations to upgrade the state to seismic zone 4 based on a UN disaster management study.

The state is currently in seismic scale 3 on the earthquake zoning map which divides the country into four categories (zone 2, 3, 4 and 5). Zone 5 expects the highest level of seismicity and zone 2 the lowest.

The UN study identified 33 cities in the country that face a potential earthquake threat including Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

The proposal to upgrade the state is a worrisome affair since its soil formation is such that hard laterite layers at the top give away to soft marine clay just after a depth of three metres.

A major part of the state is covered by Kuttanad and Cochin marine clay besides reclaimed regions from water-bodies making it vulnerable, according to geotechnical engineering expert Dr A. Sreedharan who retired from the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bengaluru.

Experts had pointed out the need to undertake some real studies on the effects of seismic activities in the. Dr. Babu T. Jose Kerala chapter chairman Indian Geotechnical Society lamented that Kerala did not have any early warning system in place.

Dams should be fitted with sensors to measure in-situ measurements and buildings with strain gauges, he’d said.

Scientist Geo-sciences Wing Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) John Mathai observed that the state had become earthquake-prone post the construction of major dams.

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