What Was the Cause of the Gujarat Earthquake?

The cause of the Gujarat earthquake on Jan. 26, 2001 was stress from the Indian plate pushing north into the Eurasian plate. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this quake was a complex earthquake, involving a small event followed by the larger and more destructive earthquakes two seconds later. The quake happened along the east-west trending fault at a fairly shallow depth.

Over 20,000 people in the Bhuj-Ahmadabad-Rajkot area died from this earthquake. Another 18 died in southern Pakistan. The quake injured thousands more and damaged buildings throughout the area. Inhabitants felt the earthquake as far away as Nepal and Bangladesh.

This earthquake occurred far from the plate boundary and caught the area unprepared for such damage. Pressure along the same fault line resulted in the 1819 earthquake that killed up to 2000 people. Property damage was significant and buildings that had survived the earlier quake did not withstand the 2001 event.

While the 2001 quake formed a few surface cracks, it did not cause significant surface ruptures. There were instances reported by locals as well as scientists of liquefaction. River beds that had been dry for more than a century filled with volcanic mud flows as a result of the earthquake.