SRINAGAR: Researchers at United States based Oregon State University, whose study claimed that Jammu and Kashmir was ripe for a magnitude 8.0 earthquake from Riasi fault system, said the study had received unexpected response from news media and had created unnecessary panic in the region.

As the study created widespread panic, JandK Now interviewed the researchers, Yann Gavillot and Andrew Meigs, to know if there was a need to be anxious and how should common people and the government respond to the study.

The researchers said it was important to ask people of Jammu and Kashmir to not panic. Rather, they said, papers such as theirs should help to reinforce the message about earthquakes and help people think what to do in the event of an earthquake.

“A more immediate and tractable goal would be to engage in an educational program where the government raises awareness (about earthquake hazards) so that scientific papers such as ours do not shock and scare people,” they said in the e-mailed interview to JandK Now.

The researchers said the study would have a positive outcome only if it raised awareness of the threat. “If our research raises awareness of this threat, then the research has a positive outcome in terms of informing the public about the risk of earthquakes for the region,” they said.

The researchers said their study did not make an earthquake prediction, as it was not possible to predict earthquakes to a specific region and time. However, they said, the study built upon and reinforced previous studies by various scientists who publicized the risk and potential size of future earthquake events in the region. “The fact that there is an earthquake risk in the region is not a new insight,” they said.

They reiterated that Himalaya was an ‘earthquake country’ and awareness of the hazard was important. “There is a need to raise awareness of the risk and to respond in a measured, thoughtful way by implementing and enforcing building codes, developing disaster preparedness plans on individual, local, and national levels, and aggressively raise public awareness about earthquakes,” they said.

“People who live in the greater Himalayan region, including those in Kashmir, live with the threat of earthquakes every day,” the researchers said. “This risk of earthquakes is not unique to Jammu and Kashmir, but prevalent throughout the Himalaya.”

They said their study used scientific reasoning, data, and established methods to estimate the range of potential future earthquake scenarios. “Whereas the exact timing and recurrence of large earthquakes in the north western Himalaya is debated, there is no question that the region has repeatedly been hit by damaging events,” they said. “Our study confirms that large earthquakes occur in the region, and provides new evidence about a fault (Riasi fault) about which little was known previously.”

Suggesting how the government should react to the study, the researchers said the policy makers needed to accept and be conscious about the potential risk from earthquakes, and work on earthquake preparedness that would ultimately help lessen the impacts.

“Earthquake preparedness is multi-disciplinary effort, in which the local authorities need to address the concerns, capabilities, and need tailored for a specific area,” they said. “Ideally, local disaster management authorities and civil protection agencies have the necessary information and tools to respond to the full spectrum of possible earthquake scenarios that can occur in the area, and to assess or re-assess their management plans, building codes, and whether key infrastructures can withstand the major of the potential shaking damages,” they suggested.

“Practically speaking,” they added, “these are long-term goals that required long-term commitment to realize.”