6.7 Siberian Earthquake of February 2012 Caused by Compressional Movement of the Earth’s Tectonic Plates

By

Home / 6.7 Siberian Earthquake of February 2012 Caused by Compressional Movement of the Earth’s Tectonic Plates
Massive compressional forces created the Himalayas (image from NASA)

Massive compressional forces created the Himalayas Image courtesy of NASA

Earthquakes in Asia

In Asia, the coming together of two relatively buoyant plates means that neither is subducted, and that when they collide, they are forced upwards, generating major mountain ranges. In this case, the two plates are the relatively rapidly northwards-moving Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate – and the mountain range which they produce is the Himalayas.

With such significant forces at work, the inevitable outcome of continental collision is faulting and fracturing of the earth, resulting in earthquakes. The compressional nature of the collision means that the zone of stress extends much further than at other types of plate boundary, for hundreds of miles. The USGS notes that the collisions between these two plates ‘produces deformation of the earth’s crust over a broad region of central and eastern Asia’.

Russian Earthquake of 2012

Although earthquakes in this region are rare, the compressional forces involved in quakes of this nature cause thrust faulting (in which one block over-rides another, moving upwards along a fault line) and are capable of producing earthquakes of significant size. The M7.3 earthquake of 2003, a result of such thrust faulting, was the largest recorded in this region area for over 200 years.

Sources

USGS. Magnitude 6.7 – Southwestern Siberia, Russia. Accessed February 26, 2012

USGS. Magnitude 7.3 – Southwestern Siberia. Accessed February 26, 2012

Leave a Comment