What Caused the Kashmir Earthquake?

Kashmir lies on top of the area where the Indian and Eurasian continental plates collide. Immense seismic stress builds up in this area and is released through earthquakes and other seismic activity. On October 8, 2005, this release of stress caused an earthquake that resulted in the death of more than 80,000 people, thousands of injuries and catastrophic property damage.

The plates upon which Kashmir rest have a reputation for intense seismic activity. They are responsible for the creation of the Himalaya Mountains. The fault line created by the Kashmir earthquake was approximately 75 miles long. It generated massive landslides that killed many. Relief efforts were hampered by the destruction and blocking of many roads by debris from the quake. Post-earthquake breaks in landscape showed land shifts of as much as 5 meters.

The Kashmir earthquake is classified as a major earthquake on the Richter scale. It is estimated that 20 major earthquakes occur each year. Earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.1 to 6.9 are known to cause a lot of damage in populated areas and occur with a frequency of 100 per year. Earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 8 totally destroy communities at their epicenter. They are much less frequent, with one estimated to occur every 5 to 10 years.