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Mount Everest Moves More Than an Inch Southwest After Nepal Earthquake

by Keith Wagstaff /  / Updated 

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The incredible energy unleashed by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25 moved Mount Everest more than an inch.

The world's tallest mountain shifted 1.18 inches to the southwest during the quake, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper, which cited a new report by China's National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation.

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The shift was a small leap back for the mountain, which has been creeping northeastward at a rate of about 1.5 inches a year, the agency reported. The mountain also rises about 0.1 inch each year. This motion is caused by the slow, grinding collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which pushes the ground upward.

But Everest's movement during the quake was small potatoes compared with the shifting of regions around Kathmandu, Nepal's capital during the quake.

"Everest is kind of like a distraction from the whole story," said Richard Briggs, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Golden, Colorado.

Near Kathmandu, the quake lifted the ground by about 3 feet, according to preliminary data from Europe's Sentinel-1A radar satellite. Damage from the quake covered more than 5,600 square miles (over 14,000 square kilometers). More than 8,000 people died.

The earthquake deformed the ground into a sort of a welt, Briggs told Live Science. Areas above the slipping fault, where the stress of the continental collision finally gave, pushed upward. This happened, for example, to Kathmandu. Meanwhile, farther north, behind the fault slip, the ground abruptly dropped.

"Everest is way out on the edge of that possible downward trough," Briggs said. Preliminary satellite data from Sentinal-1A had suggested the mountain dropped an inch during the quake, but the Chinese agency reported no loss of height. Everest aside, the Himalayas were undeniably affected, Briggs said: About 60 miles of mountain range north of Kathmandu dropped significantly.

This is a condensed version of an article that appeared on Live Science. Read the original story here. Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+.

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