UH Geoscientists Focus Their Attention On An Active Fault In Pakistan

Central Asia faults and other major tectonic boundaries in that region, labeled with earthquake's epicenter.
Today's deadly earthquake in southwestern Pakistan happened along a branch of a fault that will be getting a lot of attention here in Houston. A geoscientist at the University of Houston has won a nearly half-million dollar grant to better understand the largest fault of its kind in Central Asia.

The Chaman Fault stretches from the Arabian Sea to Afghanistan.  The 620 mile fault is the western boundary of the Indian Plate.  It runs near some of Pakistan's largest cities, and is responsible for some of the country's deadliest earthquakes. 

"This is almost more than half the size of San Andreas Fault.  Yet, very little work has been done on this fault, unlike many of the faults like this."

That's Shuhab Khan.  He's an associate professor of geology at UH.  He will lead the American team in a joint study between the U.S. and Pakistan.  The $451,000 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development will pay for cosmogenic age dating to see how the fault has moved over millions of years, along with satellite and field measurements to track recent movement.

"And then we'll predict about this fault if there are some areas where there will be potential for future earthquakes.  That's the goal for our project."

Professor Khan says the Chaman Fault is similar to the San Andreas Fault in how the plates move against each other, and the kinds of earthquakes they produce.  He says it's possible the study of the Chaman Fault will lead to new insights into how San Andreas operates.  The grant from US-AID will pay for about three years of this research.

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