Historical earthquakes in Srinagar, Kashmir: Clues from the Shiva Temple at Pandrethan
Published:October 01, 2010
Roger Bilham, Bikram Singh Bali, M. Ismail Bhat, Susan Hough, 2010. "Historical earthquakes in Srinagar, Kashmir: Clues from the Shiva Temple at Pandrethan", Ancient Earthquakes, Manuel Sintubin, Iain S. Stewart, Tina M. Niemi, Erhan Altunel
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Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir, has been shaken numerous times by earthquakes in the past millennium, most recently by damaging earthquakes in 1885 (M 6.2, 30 km to the west) and 2005 (M 7.6, 200 km to the west) with estimated EMS (European Macroseismic Scale) intensity VI–VII. Earthquakes in Kashmir in earlier historical times are known only from fragmentary archival sources. We present and analyze unique, repeat photographs of the Pandrethan Temple near Srinagar, which we conclude can provide clues to the severity of nineteenth-century earthquakes. Photos taken in 1868 and 1885 and recently show that the temple, a 5.5-m-square masonry-block structure constructed ca. A.D. 920, was undamaged by these two earthquakes. We conclude that displaced blocks visible in the earliest extant photograph are the result of stronger shaking in the past, the most probable causal earthquake being in 1828. Considering the fragility of the structure, we conclude that anything greater than EMS intensity IX would have caused structural collapse. We thus conclude that Pandrethan has not experienced EMS intensity greater than VIII in the past 200 yr, and possibly not in the past millennium.