Nepal Earthquake: The Geologists’ Role

Saturday, (April 25, 2015) Baishakh 12, 2072 B.S.

A date that will be remember forever by the people of Nepal. On this darkest Saturday, at 11:56 a.m., an earthquake of 7.6 local magnitude struck Barpak of Gorkha. The shocks were felt as far as Kanya Kumari, India in the south, Bangladesh in the east and Pakistan in the west. The earthquake affected districts mostly in the Hilly Region. About 10,000 people died. The destruction of properties and cultural heritages was huge but compared to what was previously imagined, Kathmandu was not affected much. Within a month, the capital city regained its economic activities.

Geologists had been warning of such a disaster for long. Unfortunately, the government did not give utmost importance to the matter, nor did the people think much about it. The earthquake of 1990 in Udaypur had affected the eastern region and the people there remembered the loss of lives and properties it had brought. The earthquake of Taplejung four years ago had shaken Kathmandu Valley as well, but neither the government nor the people had been careful in designing and constructing earthquake-resistant structures. A few Geologists saying from the background that there could be much bigger loss of lives and properties were unheard of. It was also a weakness in their part. I would never have known this had I not been a Geology student myself and by the time I knew, it had already been late. The disaster had already struck.

One month since the major shock, the Seismologists, who have branched off from mainstream Geologists, gave information to the public on earthquake like never before. People immediately caught up words like ‘plates’, ‘tectonics’, ‘faults’ and many other geological terms. It made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy in the sense had basic geology had become household terms (plates, for example) and sad in the sense that it did not happen prior to the earthquake. But, as i discovered later, the people gave credit to the newspapers and magazines as the source of this information. The Geologists of Nepal had failed again. They had been too late.

A problem I see with scientific researches worldwide is that they are complex and totally illogical to the common people. Scientific terms come up here and there, which off course cannot be ignored, but can be made simple through adequate explanations. Journals have always been vague and common people just ignore them. I think they should be able to understand them, interpret and use in their daily lives. Why not publish scientific works that include public interests in two bases- one for the academicians and the other for public? If such a system had existed, I believe that science could be much useful to people. I think the Geologists of Nepal would have got the credit they deserved.

As explorers of a mountainous country, Nepalese Geologists have a lot many works to do on floods, landslides, avalanches, glaciers and so on. And there are people who still ask, “What’s the scope?” I have nothing to say to them, literally!

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7 thoughts on “Nepal Earthquake: The Geologists’ Role

  1. Anish Khanal

    let me say something like the critics…… The date as you told April 25, 90% wont remember that(me included) but 12 Baisakh….only the international books remember that way….and this is a funny comment…i know…

    let me go to main point……you said that the scientific publications should reach to public in an easy way…i appreciate that but of what things….everything has a science whether that is economic science, social science or traditionally called science ( zoo/phy/chem and you got it)….everything is research based …..do you really think people will listen or read to all research….probably not…neither i will nor you will….we select topics we want to know….

    climatically we will have a problem and i ask you frankly can you tell me the rate of our glacial melts? our precipitation rate (avg), our forest covered area and its consequences…sorry dude we dont care….so its literally goes on even though govt acts or not….its we who dont care…. cheers

    And the writing wise, you are superb brother…cheers..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!!
      About the date: I had kept that intentionally and I was going to edit it after a week of the post.
      Yes, I agree we don’t care. Why? Because there are so many topics that require either expertise or explanations. Researchers have not been able to provide information necessary to the public. The rate of glacial melt may not concern us, but its effects must. We don’t care the rate of precipitation but its patterns affects agriculture, and even the chances of landslides and floods.
      I agree that some researches are purely academic but some issues should me made clear to the government as well as the public. That’s when correct measures will be taken by the government at the right time.

      Like

  2. Anish Khanal

    critics always argue……law…..i am all saying is that even you publish these things simply on the newspaper frontpage people will not read unless they want to…..and i am again saying that the respective office has to stop us from doing so…..not we doing ourselves….there are lots of field we dont know and we are acting against it unknowingly….make a law and we will not do…bringing everything to public doesnt make sense as far i’m concerbed….this time they want to know about earthquake after an earthquake…..if u had provided the information, they would have said,” oh Yeah!! is that so?” and poooofffff…..gone….

    make a law and stop the devastation…..educating people on all matters is not possible…..and me too, dont want to know all…

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    1. We need to make people read the things we want them to. Not everything will be interesting to public, I agree on that. And I have not said that everything should be public. But there are certain issues in all scientific disciplines that affect the public.

      I think I’m giving much attention to the public because of what our government does to researchers and their researches. Making laws is not the solution. Laws should be implemented; and this is not possible without the involvement of the public.

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