KU geologist who discovered fault line in Himalayas shares insight on earthquake

Posted on Apr 25, 2015 in Campus News and News

A deadly earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday, and according to Nepal’s National Emergency Operations Center, the death toll has topped 1,400. In issue No. 5, 2014, of Kansas Alumni magazine, associate editor Chris Lazzarino wrote about research by Mike Taylor, associate professor of geology, and his colleagues that identified a previously unknown and active fault line in the Himalayas. Professor Taylor provided an update this morning.

The epicenter of today’s 7.9 earthquake was about 40 miles north-northwest of Kathmandu and “definitely related” to the northward push of India. Essentially, that’s the plate movements and fault structure that had been previously known.

Taylor does not yet know whether or not the earthquake is also related to the previously unknown east-west movement of the western Himalayas that he and his colleagues identified last year, as described in the previous story in Kansas Alumni magazine.

He said this quake was a “low-angle structure” with displacements directed north-south. “The peak ground accelerations were in and around Kathmandu,” Taylor said, noting that the devastation was made worse by Kathmandu’s “very poor infrastructure.”

Taylor is already writing a rapid-response grant proposal to the U.S. National Science Foundation and is looking for KU Department of Geology funds, in hopes of flying to Nepal for field work within a matter of weeks.

“7.9 is a really big earthquake, and it had a devastating effect,” Taylor said. “The estimates for people who have died will unfortunately probably climb rapidly.”

—Chris Lazzarino

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Jayhawk fulfills lifelong goal

Posted on Dec 17, 2013 in Campus News and News

We love to hear how Jayhawks show their pride around the world. This guest post was submitted by Ashlee Lund, c’10. If you have a story you’d like to share, please email us at share@kualumni.org.

Since I was young, I dreamed of climbing Mount Everest. I became even more fascinated with climbing in high school, when I got the opportunity to hike in the Swiss Alps. I fed my addiction by continuing to hike the Colorado 14ers (mountains above 14,000 ft) in the summer of 2011.

Later that summer, I was reading through a magazine about hiking and came across a company that organizes trips all across the globe, including journeys to the base camp and the summit of Everest. The ad caught my attention, and I immediately began to train.

I left Kansas City Oct. 12, 2013, and arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Oct. 14. I didn’t personally know my guide, my Sherpas, or my teammates until I arrived in Nepal. My team and I stayed in Kathmandu for a couple of days before flying to the notorious Tenzing-Hillary Airport located high up in the Himalayas in a town called Lukla. For the next two weeks, my team and I hiked three to seven hours daily and spent the nights at tea houses in villages along the Khumbu Trail. We finally reached the base of Mount Everest on Oct. 27. I felt completely exhausted–but exhilarated because I had fulfilled a lifelong dream.img_news_everest_lund

The challenge appealed to me in part because the Khumbu Trail tends to be more physically and mentally demanding than the mountains I have trekked, even though climbing the mountains of Colorado is no easy task. In addition, I decided to travel to Nepal because I learned the hard way that life can be cut short. I’ve have lost many friends in tragic circumstances, and those losses have motivated me to enjoy life and tackle challenges as a way of honoring their memory. Alpine hiking requires a lot of mental and physical stamina while also trying to stay as healthy as possible. There are days when you will feel tired and sore, but you have to keep pressing on. Hiking mountains has been a life metaphor for me: It will be hard at times, but in the end, the hard work is worth it.

For me, the best part of the trip–besides reaching Everest Base Camp (nearly 18,000 ft in elevation)–was seeing the cultural differences between Nepal and the United States. I enjoyed the generosity of the citizens of Nepal as well as learning about their cultural beliefs and values; the experience was very humbling, and my three weeks in Nepal compelled me to make changes in my life. For starters, I intend to give away a lot of my possessions, and I am going to try to walk or bike to more of my destinations. If the people of Nepal can carry 45 to 65 pounds on their heads and backs up a mountain or direct yaks for miles, then surely I can challenge myself more often.

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