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Earthquakes and the Environmental Transformation of a Floodplain Landscape: The Brahmaputra Valley and the Earthquakes of 1897 and 1950

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Two major earthquakes in 1897 and 1950 had a deep impact upon the environment and humans in north-east India. The massive seismic disturbance of 1897 played a crucial role in shaping the physical history of this region. Seismologists have observed that this earthquake holds a 'prominent place among the great earthquakes of the world'. Another earthquake in 1950 disturbed the region's physical setting. This article will examine how these earthquakes transformed the landscape of Assam, and, in so doing, affected the lives and livelihoods of human communities. It will detail the various geological and hydrological consequences of earthquakes, which included the creation of floods, landslides, fissures, sand vents and artificial river dams. It will demonstrate how these changes affected Assamese agriculturalists and fishing communities. In so doing, it will shift the historiography of earthquakes away from a largely urban focus to examine the rural experiences of seismic activity.
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Keywords: Brahmaputra; agriculture; fish; floodplains; floods; hills

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2018) of 0.800. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.918.
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