|In the last 100 years, earthquakes and volcanoes have caused over a million
deaths in Tethys, a region extending from Gibraltar to Southeast Asia. A better
understanding of the processes that cause these natural disasters is vital for
developing an early warning system in densely populated areas.
Scientists hypothesize that the Tethyan belt was once an ocean that closed by the
collision of Africa, Saudi Arabia, and India with Europe and Asia. The processes
that closed this ocean are still active, resulting in the formation of mountains like the
Himalayas and related earthquakes and volcanoes.
Currently, Assistant Professor of Geosciences Shuhab Khan, along with colleagues
from three other universities, is developing a Geographic Information System
(GIS) for understanding the tectonics of Tethys, which includes the area hit by
the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake that killed
around 80,000 people.
The system will combine sophisticated computer software and hardware with
geographic data for capturing, analyzing, and visualizing information about the region.
“The development and testing models that explain global-scale collision tectonics
and related hazards require large, interdisciplinary data sets and tools for querying
and manipulating these complex data sets. GIS capabilities dramatically enhance
this potential,” says Khan.
Upon completion, this National Science Foundation-funded project will be a
valuable resource for the scientific community and will have significant societal
For more information, please visit http://www.uh.edu/~sdkhan/.