October 19, 2009

Everest Base Camp Gets New Earthquake Monitoring Station

A Chinese official said Monday that scientists have begun operating an earthquake monitoring station at the foot of Mount Everest in an effort to learn more about the world's highest peak, The Associated Press reported.

Shang Rongbo, a deputy director with the regional seismology bureau, said the station, which began operating over the weekend, is located at about 14,000 feet in Tibet's Tingri County.

The station will support real-time collection of data about seismic events along the China-Nepal border, sending it by satellite to research centers elsewhere, Shang said.

Everest is located where the Eurasian plate abuts the Indian plate, which formed the towering Himalayas after a collision between the two.

Over the years, many severe earthquakes have hit the region. Minor quakes have frequently hit the Tibetan plateau, and a massive 7.9-magnitude quake struck the Himalayan foothills in Sichuan province in May 2008, leaving nearly 90,000 people missing or dead.

However, due to an increasing numbers of visitors, China has been boosting infrastructure around Everest.

Officials there have paved an 81-mile dirt track from Tingri to the Everest base camp, and a cell phone tower now provides coverage all the way to the summit.

There is also has a high-rise hotel, a police station - and a rising crime rate near the mountain range.