Context- This article discusses the reasons behind the phenomenon of frequent earthquakes in
- Afghanistan has had a history of frequent destructive earthquakes. An earthquake of
magnitude 6.3 struck western Afghanistan recently, barely a few days after multiple
earthquakes killed at least a 1,000 people in the Herat province.
How do earthquakes occur?
- Stage I: Movement of tectonic plates: The earth is made up of chunks of solid rocks
called tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are slow moving but are always in motion, mostly
due to the heat energy generated inside the earth.
- Stage II: Creation of Faults: Discontinuities in these plate rock masses, along which they
have moved, are called fault lines. This is where most earthquakes occur.
- Stage III: Release of Energy: The tectonic forces and stress that builds up in the earth’s
lithosphere causes the rocks to break and slip. This releases energy and sends seismic
waves through the ground.
Why do frequent earthquakes occur in Afghanistan?
- Afghanistan is located over multiple fault lines in the region where the Indian, Arabian
and the Eurasian tectonic plates meet. These plates collide often, leading to significant
a) Towards western Afghanistan, the Arabian plate subducts northward under Eurasia.
b) Towards eastern Afghanistan, the Indian plate subducts northward under Eurasia.
c) In southern Afghanistan, the Arabian and Indian plates adjoin and both subduct northward
under the Eurasian plate.
- 2) Geological complexity: The Hindu Kush Mountain range and the Pamir Knot are
geologically complex regions where tectonic plates meet.
- Forces of Compression: The ongoing northward movement of the Indian Plate towards
the Eurasian Plate also results in compression, leading to the transmission of tectonic
stress across the entire region. The compression creates faults and fractures that can slip
and generate earthquakes.
- Presence of Faults: like the Chaman Fault and the Main Pamir Thrust.