RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- Nepal could see a major earthquake bigger than the 7.9 quake that struck in April of 2015. A seismologist at the University of Nevada came to this conclusion recently after finding a large section of the fault that has not ruptured in 800 years.
"We learned that the last really large earthquake there occurred in about 1255 AD," said Steven Wesnousky, Professor of Geology and Seismology at the University of Nevada.
Wesnousky says the Himalayan frontal fault near Kathmandu has been accumulating pressure at a rate of 20 millimeters per year for the last 800 years.
"800 years times 20 millimeters per year tells us that the equivalent of 16 meters of slip has actually accumulated and is poised to be released in an earthquake," said Wesnousky.
Typically, when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake strikes, that pressure is released, but Wesnousky's research shows that didn't happen in the 2015 Kathmandu earthquake.
"2015 did not release a sufficient amount of stress to push off the time until the next great earthquake," said Wesnousky. "Our observations suggest that when it happens those earthquakes can be very large. Approaching magnitude nine."
A magnitude nine would be more than 100 times as powerful as the 2015 quake. It would be catastrophic and the death toll would be innumerable. Wesnousky hopes his findings can prepare the region before the devastation happens.
"People are trying to take this information and say what can we do, how should we be posed for the next earthquake," said Wesnousky.