A group of researchers from the University of Miami has discovered a new earthquake hazard in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, in a study aimed at the major Chaman and Ghazaband faults in the region. The research showed the Ghazaband Fault holds a much higher potential for a high magnitude earthquake than previously thought, while the Chaman Fault accounts for only a third of the relative plate motion.

The scientists have used the satellite data from ESA’s Envisat satellite, collected in the period between 2004 and 2011, to measure the relative motion of the ground and model the faults movement using the time-series analysis technique with an accuracy of only a few millimeters.

According to results, the Ghazaband Fault is responsible for over a half of the relative motion occurring between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, showing a much higher potential for large magnitude earthquakes than previously assumed. One event of such magnitude was a 7.7 earthquake that occurred in Quetta, Pakistan in 1935. Nearly half of the city’s population was lost at the time.

Read moreAlarming earthquake hazard in Afghanistan-Pakistan border region