Gujarat Earthquake 2001: Case Study
Gujarat is a state in the north western part of India. Beneath India, the Indo-Australian and the Eurasian Plate are moving towards each other at about 2cm per year. Both plates are continental, so this is a compressional boundary where both the plates are pushed up to form fold mountains The Himalayas are the most obvious result of this collision. Along with the creation of fold mountains, the movement of the plates creates stress within the rocks. When the stress is suddenly released by rocks slipping past each other, we experience an earthquake.
The epicentre of the Gujarat earthquake was a small town called Bhuj. At 08:46 local time, on Friday 26th January 2001 it was struck by an earthquake that measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale It turned out to be one of the two most deadly earthquakes in the recorded history of India, with almost 20,000 people confirmed as dead, and another 166,000 injured. Add to that a further 600,000 left homeless, almost 350,000 homes destroyed and another 844,000 damaged and it becomes obvious that this was a major humanitarian disaster. The Indian government has calculated that in one way or another, the ‘quake had an effect on 15.9 million people – nearly half the population of India!
The cost of the damage varies depending upon who’s figures you use, but it was between 1.3 billion and 5 billion US dollars. In built up areas modern buildings were shaken but mostly survived. Others, however, including several multistory concrete buildings collapsed. Because only some of the new buildings collapsed, the government suspected that dodgy building methods may have been the cause. Investigations led to a number of builders, architects and engineers being charged with culpable murder and criminal conspiracy.
Before the quake this was a rather dry area often affected by drought. After the quake there were many reports of the water table rising, sometimes to surface level. In a number of places new springs appeared, some with fresh water and others, more surprisingly, with salt water. Some desert rivers, that had been dry for over a century, began to flow again, and there was evidence of liquefaction in many places.
Transport and Communications
Access to the sites of earthquakes is always likely to be restricted by the damage caused by the quake, because ground movements damage roads and railways. Damage to roads affected the transportation of goods to the 40 or so ports along the Gujarat coastline.
Bhuj was no exception and suffered from very limited transport after the earthquake. Even days after the quake, the rescue services had not managed to gain access to all the remote villages that suffered during the earthquake. Roads were cracked, lifted and warped, but most obstructions in built up areas were caused by debris that fell onto roads. Where there was a possibility of survivors under the debris, it was out of the question to just bulldoze the rubble out of the way; it had to be carefully and slowly removed, leaving roads blocked until there was no hope of finding survivors.
Telephone lines were broken, exchanges damaged and power lost to the telephone system. In many remote areas mobile telephones don’t work, so all forms of communication with ‘difficult to reach’ places were out of order. Repairing phone lines took time, and the process wasn’t helped by blocked roads, damaged buildings and the loss of workers killed or injured in the event.
Gujarat was the second most industrialised state in India, with well developed diamond, pharmaceutical, chemical, textile and steel industries. Although most survived the quake with little or no major structural damage, they were disrupted by the destruction of communications, transportation and electricity / gas supplies. Immediately after the quake, industry was losing about 200 million dollars every day.
The huge loss of life also had an impact on industry because many of the dead were workers in local businesses.
” The lives lost would impact the (businesses) as many employees would have been a victim of the tragedy,” the Confederation of Indian Industry said in a statement.
As with many large earthquakes, services like water, gas, electricity and sewerage provided through a network of underground pipes and cables were damaged when the ground flexed and moved. Broken pipes and cables led to loss of fresh water, sewerage discharges and no power in many areas. At the epicentre, in Bhuj, 95 percent of the town was left uninhabitable, with no water, electricity or shelter.
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Gujurat Earthquake 2001
An earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale.
Friday 26th January 2001 at 08:46 local time.
The earthquake occurred in north-western India. The epicentre was close to the small desert town of Bhuj in the north-western state of Gujarat.
India lies on a collision margin. The Indo-Australian and the Eurasian Plate collide into each other at the rate of around 2cm per year. As neither can subduct (both plates are continental) the land where the two plate meet is forced upwards. Over the last 60 million years this process has formed The Himalayas
As the two continental plates move towards each other pressure builds up. Eventually this pressure is released. This caused the earthquake in India
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On January 26, 2001 a 7.7 magnitude earthquake shook West India. The epicenter of the quake was located in Gujarat, India, with effects felt throughout West India and over into Pakistan. Over 20,000 lives were lost in the quake, along with another 170,000 injured. Entire villages were flattened. Estimates are that nearly 340,000 buildings were destroyed with over $8 billion in property damage. Like with many earthquakes, there was no warning. Tectonic plate collisions and faults are among the most unpredictable of the natural disasters, and can ravage cities in seconds.
The importance of this disaster is due to the widespread communication responses that were revolutionary for the time. It can be argued that this is one of the important first uses of the internet as a media for information and technical dissemination. The internet was used for technical communication before in some disaster instances, but mostly as a highly centralized communication network with a single government website providing information to the outside world. The Gujarat earthquake required this step-in communication evolution because of the serious communication infrastructure damage that was widespread in the affected area. Widespread power outages resulted from transmission line damage and several cities were completely isolated due to breakage of fiber optic cables. Cell phone towers were also damaged, rendering communication out of the affected areas impossible until rescue and relief work set up temporary measures. There were only a small amount of satellite phones and communication was mostly restricted to high level decision makers. Those in quake-affected areas wanted to contact family and friends to report their circumstances, and outside family wanted to know more details on which areas were most impacted.
The nature of post disaster communication systems changed when a number of private websites came online to meet this worldwide demand for information. The private websites proved highly localized damage and needs information. These sites were able to meet the needs of both outside and local parties, and were able to do it in a relatively easy and cost-effective way. This is important because people no longer relied on the centralized communication network and instead moved to a more multi-node network to meet the needs of all parties. Communication after a disaster and technical information in particular such as location details, remaining dangers, and aid information was more easily available and less pressure was on government sources to be the sole voice. This, however, could possibly be a problem if this decentralization of information affects accuracy or reliability.
In conclusion, the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 showed one of the first instances of multi-node technical communication where vital information came from multiple private sources rather than one centralized government voice. This has expanded to current day where every news and media outlet has information seconds after any events and the internet most likely has any details that are needed. The importance of content and rhetoric may be lost in this sea of information, however, and it leaves more to the citizens to do in terms of deciphering and deciding what information is accurate and helpful. There will always be a need for centralized communication from governments in times of extreme crisis, but the additional creation of a multi-node network allows the smaller details and information to be disseminated to the public in a highly accessible way. A technical communication cannot be effective if it does not reach the people who need the information the most.
- Kirpes, Martha. “Electronic Communications for Improving Disaster Response and Reconstruction.” 13th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering.
- Yodmani, Suvit & Hollister, David. (2001). Disasters and Communication Technology: Perspectives from Asia.
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✔ Humans are the superior social animals instilled with emotions, feelings, and, most importantly, wisdom. The world has dramatically evolved from the primitive Stone Age to the modern world. The credit for this drastic change solely goes to humans and their broad horizons of knowledge.
✔ With the advancement of technology, it seems that there is nothing humans cannot achieve. Despite all the development and improvement, one aspect of nature still exists beyond humans’ control, i.e., natural disasters.
✔ Natural disasters are unpredictable events of nature, primarily resulting in catastrophic damage. An earthquake is a natural disaster that humans still do not have any hold of .
✔ An earthquake is a sudden movement of the Earth’s surface or ground resulting from the passage of seismic waves.
✔ It is unpredictable and can occur any day of the year, any second time, causing a lot of negative impacts and suffering.
✔ The world has witnessed many devastating quakes that caused significant destruction and losses, and one such earthquake is the Bhuj Earthquake.
2. Bhuj Earthquake: The Event
✔ On January 26, 2001 , India was all set to celebrate the 52nd Republic Day, so a massive earthquake struck Gujarat.
✔ The Bhuj Earthquake, also known as the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake, occurred at 8:46 a.m.
✔ The epicenter was at Bhuj, which is the District headquarters of Kutch district in the state of Gujarat.
✔ The earthquake was mighty and recorded 6.9 Mb on the Richter scale (Mw 7.6) .
✔ It lasted over two minutes, and what happened next was unimaginable and catastrophic.
✔ The shakes induced were felt in about 70% of the country’s regions, and the tremors were felt even in Nepal and Pakistan.
✔ It resulted in a loss of over 20,000 lives and left behind around 1.7 lakh people injured .
✔ Moreover, it caused severe damage to the physical infrastructure and left over 229 villages damaged beyond repair .
✔ About 600 aftershocks of magnitude ranging from 2.8 to 5.9 have been recorded so far.
3. Seismic Zone of Bhuj Earthquake
✔ On January 26, 2001, the Kutch district of Gujarat, India, was struck by the Bhuj earthquake, which resulted in across-the-board obliteration and loss of life. This area has a chronology of seismic activity.
✔ The earthquake, which enlisted 7.7 on the Richter scale, emerged along the Kutch Rift – a geological feature between the Indian and Arabian plates. This rift is delicate in the Earth’s crust, making it more sensitive to tremors.
✔ Regrettably, the Bhuj earthquake remains one of India’s most toxic natural disasters, proclaiming the lives of more than 13,000 people and wounding over 167,000. Also, the earthquake caused consequential damage to buildings and infrastructure.
✔ This is a stark reminder of the seismic hazard in Gujarat and other regions of India. It accentuates the importance of taking benchmarks to downsize the impact of earthquakes. Attention to the risks to defend lives and property is crucial.
4. Memorial Sites of Bhuj Earthquake
5. causes of the bhuj earthquake .
✔ Gujarat is located 300-400 km from the boundary of the Indian and Eurasian plates.
✔ Geologists say the earthquake occurred at the convergent boundary between the two tectonic plates, making Gujarat the quake’s epicenter.
✔ Even today, the continuous continental collision of the plate boundary between the Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate governs the plate tectonics of the region.
✔ This area faced a roughly west-east rifting trend during the break-up of Gondwana in the Jurassic.
✔ The area has also undergone shortening during the collision with the Eurasian plate, thereby reactivating the existing rift faults and developing new low-angle thrust faults.
✔ Hence, the Bhuj Earthquake occurred due to the movement on the previously unknown south-dipping fault tending parallel to the deduced rift formations.
6. Parameters of the Bhuj Earthquake
✔ According to the teleseismic data, the epicentral coordinates of the mainshock were 23.36 degrees north and 70.34 degrees east .
✔ The seismic moment of the event is estimated to be about 6.2*10^28 dyne-cm .
✔ The uplift was 2m, 15 km west of the epicenter .
✔ The shake had reverse motion with severe shakes that lasted about 85 seconds and minor shakes that lasted several minutes.
✔ As per the reports of the survivors, two different distinctive pulses were felt, which may be due to the separate arrivals of the P wave and S wave.
7. Areas Affected by the Bhuj Earthquake
✔ The post-earthquake reports suggest that the areas as far as 300km from the epicenter were affected.
✔ Among the 25 districts of the state of Gujarat, 22 districts suffered severe damage .
✔ The Kutch district was the most severely damaged one.
✔ This district’s four major areas, Bhuj, Anjar, Bachau, and Rapar, were almost destroyed.
✔ In rural regions, almost 229 villages were severely damaged .
✔ Ahmedabad, about 300km from the epicenter, also suffered considerable destruction.
8. Effects of the Bhuj Earthquake
✔ The Bhuj Earthquake directly affected the existing geographical formations, physical infrastructures, human settlements and lives, livestock and other animals, and other country assets .
✔ Some of the effects of the earthquake can be summarized as follows:
I. Fault Rupture: ✔ Though no significant evidence of fault rupture has been found in the earthquake, ground deformations and cracks were prominent in the severely affected areas.
✔ The reports suggest these originated due to liquefaction and lateral spreading during the quake.
✔ Generally, liquefaction can be understood as a loss of strength and stiffness of soil, particularly saturated, due to excessive stress such as seismic forces.
✔ The Gujarat earthquake resulted in widespread liquefaction in the Rann area, Gulf of Kutch, and Kandla River.
III. Slope Failure:
✔ Extensive slope failure occurred in several regions. Rock slope failure could be observed in an area over 10,000 km.
✔ The regions near Bhuj and Bhachau suffered major slope failures.
IV. Effect on Infrastructures:
✔ The Bhuj Earthquake destroyed 300,000 homes.
✔ On top of that, over 700,000 homes were partially destroyed.
✔ The monuments, pagodas, historical places, and Kutch and Saurashtra’s tombs also collapsed or suffered severe damage.
✔ According to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), about 40% of the heritage was collapsed or severely damaged .
✔ Bridges and railways of the affected area were also destructed.
✔ Fibre optics providing communications to the areas became unfunctional.
V. Effect on Human lives and Death tolls:
✔ The Gujarat Earthquake took thousands of lives and left thousands homeless.
✔ According to the sources, the earthquake killed about 20,000 people, among which 18 were from southeastern Pakistan.
✔ About 1,67,000 people were injured .
✔ The death toll in the Kutch region alone reached 12,300.
✔ The settlement of Bhuj was devastated.
✔ Several hundred people were also killed in Ahmedabad.
9. Rescue and Relief Efforts
✔ Since the earthquake occurred on Republic Day , most government machinery was occupied; thus, an immediate response was impossible.
✔ Only the emergency control room of the capital state of Gandhinagar became operational by 9:30 a.m .
✔ The destruction was so massive that the relief operations could not be carried out immediately.
✔ Relief operations began 72 hours after the earthquake from within and outside the country.
✔ The Indian Air Force distributed relief materials such as blankets, packed foods, tents, and medicine.
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