Durham University research on earthquake and landslide hazard in Nepal has informed the humanitarian response to the devastating 2015 Gorkha earthquake, which affected more than 3.5 million people, as well as preparedness efforts for the next major earthquake.
Earthquakes and their associated secondary hazards, such as landslides, are a major and recurring threat to lives and infrastructure in mountainous countries like Nepal.
The large volume of scientific research on faulting and earthquake hazard in Nepal is not typically used to inform operational decisions. Deterministic earthquake scenarios have been almost exclusively targeted at the Kathmandu Valley.
In the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal, Durham researchers produced a preliminary landslide map to support the humanitarian response.
The research then produced the only comprehensive maps of landslides that occurred during and after the earthquake.
The researchers also developed a novel alternative hybrid approach that uses an ensemble of earthquake scenarios to represent all potential damaging earthquakes that could affect Nepal.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, the landslide maps and associated guidance notes were used to understand the hazard and improve the immediate response. Research findings were used by the National Reconstruction Authority geohazard assessment teams to identify safer relocation options.
The ongoing post-earthquake landslide mapping and analysis has provided the Government of Nepal with its first comprehensive, up-to-date database of landslide hazard. This database is updated twice yearly and used to generate household-level landslide risk maps for more than 1 million individual houses across the 14 worst-affected districts.
The research on earthquake scenario ensembles now underpins nationwide earthquake contingency planning by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and the Government of Nepal.
Institution: University of Durham
Researchers: Professor Nick Rosser, Professor Alex Densmore, Dr Katie Oven, Dr David Milledge, Dr Tom Robinson, Dr Mark Kincey, Dr Jack Williams, Dr Zuzanna Swirad