Earthquake

Assam is known to many as a nightmarish land of earthquakes, some tremors of the most violent nature having been recorded even in recent times. Being situated in the earthquake belt, Assam experiences earthquake shocks very often.

The Tungkhungia Buranjee , a book on history of the Ahom rule, written in 1696, recorded some important earthquakes of Assam and the entire North Eastern region of India in the mediaeval period.

An earthquake on January 10, 1869 with its epicenter probably at North Cachar hills had ravaged the area between North Cachar and Assam Valley and had made the bank of the Barak sink about 15 feet.

The vertical acceleration along the epicenter tract of another quake on June 12, 1897 was reportedly so great that stones were flung into air. Its intensity was 8.7 in the Richter Scale. Many houses, buildings, bridges and roads were destroyed. There are cases of upliftment of some areas and sinking of some others. Many rivers-beds were found to have been raised and many rivers changed their courses. Even a forested foothill area about 40 km. to the south-west of Guwahati sank down to give rise to the present Chand Dubi Lake, which still bears the submerged stumps of the large trees.

A very serious earthquake was also felt on the 9th September of 1923 in Assam. Destruction due to this earthquake was extensive in the western part of Assam.

The most devastating earthquake of Assam of recent memory is that of August 15, 1950. This earthquake mutilated the whole habitation n Upper Assam. Its tremors read 8.6 in the Richter Scale. Starting from the early evening (7:40 PM) the tremor continued throughout the night. Many houses and building of the Upper Assam were razed to the ground. There developed innumerable wide and deep cracks on the ground and mud, sand and water burst out damaging the roads, settlement sites and crop field. This earthquake disturbed the courses and beds of many rivers like the Brahmaputra, Subansiri, Burhi Dihing, Jia Bharali etc. causing them either to change their courses or by raising the beds resulting in occurrence of floods even after a few showers at their catchment areas. It is found that the bed of the Brahmaputra itself rose up in many areas, causing bank inundation even after a slight rise in its water level. It is also noticed that a large number of lakes, marshes and swamps in Assam became shallow as a result of this earthquake.

After this devastating earthquake, Assam has not experienced and severe earthquake so far. However, two tremors of medium intensity were felt during this period, one on July 29, 1970 and the other in August 1988. Further, it is noticed that the frequency of mild earthquake tremors has increased since last 22 years.

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