Journal of the Geological Society of India

, Volume 73, Issue 6, pp 785-802

First online:

Reassessing the earthquake hazard in Kerala based on the historical and current seismicity

  • C.P. RajendranAffiliated withCentre for Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of ScienceCentre for Earth Science Studies
  • , Biju JohnAffiliated withNational Institute of Rock MechanicsGeological Survey of India
  • , K. SreekumariAffiliated withSeismic Station, Kerala Forest Research Institute Campus
  • , Kusala RajendranAffiliated withCentre for Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of Science

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Given the lack of proper constraints in understanding earthquake mechanisms in the cratonic interiors and the general absence of good quality database, here we reassess the seismic hazard in the province of Kerala, a part of the •stable continental interior•, based on an improved historical and instrumental database. The temporal pattern of the current seismicity suggests that >60% of the microtremors in Kerala occurs with a time lag after the peak rainfall, indicating that hydroseismicity may be a plausible model to explain the low-level seismicity in this region. Further, an increment in overall seismicity rate in the region in the recent years is explained as due to increased anthropogenic activities, which includes changes in hydrological pathways as a consequence of rapid landscape changes. Our analyses of the historical database eliminate a few events that are ascribed to this region; this exercise has also led to identification of a few events, not previously noted. The improved historical database essentially suggests that the central midland region is more prone to seismic activity compared to other parts of Kerala. This region appears to have generated larger number of significant earthquakes; the most prominent being the multiple events (doublets) of 1856 and 1953, whose magnitudes are comparable to that of the 2000/2001 (central Kerala) events. Occurrences of these historical events and the recent earthquakes, and the local geology indicative of pervasive faulting as shown by widely distributed pseudotachylite veins suggest that the NNW-SSE trending faults in central midland Kerala may host discrete potentially active sources that may be capable of generating light to moderate size earthquakes. The frequency of earthquakes in central Kerala evident from the historical database requires that the seismic codes stipulated for this region are made mandatory.


Seismic hazard Earthquakes Stable continental interiors Central Kerala