Dr. Marianne Karplus, UTEP

Dr. Aaron Velasco, UTEP

Dr. Soma Nath Sapkota, Dept. of Mines and Geology, Nepal

Dr. Dowchu Drukpa, Dept. of Geology and Mines, Bhutan

International Lithosphere Program (ILP)

Coordinating Committee for Himalayan Seismicity and Tectonics

The collision of the India and Eurasia plates at c. 55-60 Ma (e.g., Hu et al., 2015; or possibly as late as 20 Ma, van Hinsbergen et al., 2012) has created the Himalaya, the world’s highest mountains and largest continental-continental collision. This convergent zone presents a significant earthquake hazard (e.g., Bilham et al., 2001, Sapkota et al., 2012), as demonstrated by the recent, devastating April 25, 2015 M=7.8 Gorkha earthquake and the following May 12, 2015 M=7.3 earthquake in Nepal (Adhikari et al., 2015). The relatively small Himalayan country of Bhutan also has a significant earthquake risk, despite the absence of record of a large earthquake since 1714 (Drukpa et al., 2006, Velasco et al., 2007, Hetenyi et al., 2016). Despite previous studies in the region, important questions remain, including distinguishing possible geometries of the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT), the role of other regional faults, the crustal composition and role of fluids in faulting, and the details of the rupture process, including structural causes and locations of rupture segmentation both along-strike and down-dip.


Formation of the Coordinating Committee (2019)

In 2019, we established an International Lithosphere Program (ILP) coordinating committee to study seismicity and tectonics in the Himalaya by partnering with researchers at the Department of Mines and Geology (DMG) in Nepal and the Department of Geology and Mines (DGM) in Bhutan.

This coordinating committee will facilitate collaborations between Nepal, Bhutan, the USA, and other global researchers to study Himalayan earthquakes and lithospheric structure of the Nepalese and Bhutanese Himalaya. We aim to build on existing collaborations to exchange ideas and work together to address key research questions.

Plans for ILP seed funds (~$4,000 per year for 5 years)

We intend to use the ILP Coordinating Committee funds to allow young geoscientists in Himalayan countries to travel to international meetings with dedicated ILP-initiated sessions. We further intend to use these funds to host workshops and sessions bringing together scientists working in the Himalaya.


We invited Dr. Soma Nath Sapkota, the Director General of the Department of Mines and Geology in Nepal, to give an invited talk at the AGU meeting in a Himalayan Earthquakes session. We hosted a Himalayan Tectonics evening special interest group meeting during the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Meeting attended by more than 40 international Himalayan researchers. Many new contacts were made and added to the email list for the ILP Coordinating Committee.

We invite you to get involved!

Please email Dr. Marianne Karplus to join the mailing list for this ILP Coordinating Committee.


Activities & Events


Nepalese dinner following the ILP Coordinating Committee Himalayan Tectonics special interest group meeting at the AGU Fall Meeting 2019.