The Assam Earthquake

Essay by jmur6 May 2004

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The Assam Earthquake

On August 15, 1897, more than 1538 people died. The cause was one of the biggest blind earthquakes in the world. This earthquake was at least an 8.1! Out of the earth, which was open for 5 days, came columns of steam and superheated liquid. Full villages fell into large cracks, dams broke and fields and towns flooded, forcing people into trees, where one woman gave birth.

Put out your hand. Look at any one of your finger nails and watch it grow. This is what plate tectonics looks like!

Plate tectonics is practically invisible to use in our daily life. It puts stresses in the crust of the earth, like when a person words too hard, and tries to fit too many tings into one day. Sometimes stressed out crust lets go of the stress in sudden fits. We call these earthquakes.

On August 15, people were waking up to celebrate three years of independence from Great Britain, but at 2:40, nature had other plans.

About 14 kilometers ESE of Sangsik, India, stones on the road started vibrating. Soon after, sections of the Shillong Plateau shifted 16 meters.

This earthquake destroyed towns in Assam and Meghalays, also known as Shillong. Many people reported landslides in the Garo hills. Observers in Nalbari saw rice fields rise and fall as ground waves passed by. The Bramaputa River is said to have risen 7.6 meters, reversing the flow for a short period of time. Many after shocks followed.

The cause of the earthquake, that amazingly sent part of the Shillong Plateau 15 meters in only seconds, is now said to be known. Supposedly, it was caused by two adjacent faults rupturing under the earth's surface. The acceleration at the epicenter, that was 10 miles deep, exceeded gravity. This sudden...