University of Leicester geologist invited to present findings to European Geosciences Union

Posted by es328 at Apr 24, 2017 04:23 PM |
Dr Max Moorkamp will discuss his research about a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Botswana

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 24 April 2017

A geologist from the University of Leicester will present his research into earthquakes to the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna on 25 April.

Dr Max Moorkamp, from the Department of Geology, will discuss the significance of a recent earthquake in Botswana and show how its location could be related to geological structures within the Earth.

Earthquakes are significant natural hazards that can cause serious damage to property and loss of life. Larger and destructive earthquakes are usually associated with regions of tectonic activity where the Earth's plates move relative to each other.

However, in rare circumstances large earthquakes can also occur in geologically inactive regions which makes these kind of earthquakes particularly unpredictable.

On 3 April 2017 a magnitude 6.5 earthquake occurred in central Botswana, an area that has not previously seen an event of such size. The shaking was felt hundreds of kilometres away and caused panic in the capital Gaborone. Fortunately the damage was minimal as the epicentre was located in a sparsely settled area.

For the last two years, a team of scientists, led by Dr Max Moorkamp and including seismologist Dr Stewart Fishwick at the University of Leicester, has been studying the region around the epicentre.

The original aim of the study was to understand the formation of continents in Earth's early geological history and Dr Moorkamp has been invited to present his findings at the currently ongoing European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna. However, this recent event gives the results additional significance.

Dr Moorkamp says: "We have been surprised by this event, as we did not expect it to occur in an inactive region such as this. We see interesting structures within the crust and upper mantle in the region of the earthquake.

“These structures are likely to play a controlling role on the location of the recent event, and possible future earthquakes. Investigating the relationship between structure and earthquakes will be the focus of our efforts in the coming weeks."

Dr. Moorkamp will present his findings on Tuesday 25 April 2017 between 8:30-9:00 at the European Geosciences Union in session EMRP2.3, Room 0.31.

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