Quake Devastates Nepal


A strong earthquake rocked Nepal early Saturday, destroying buildings, damaging historic temples, and killing more than 4,000 people. (Nat Geo News)

Explore the impact of the quake and the tectonically active region of Himalayas with today’s MapMaker Interactive.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

The USGS shakemap of the devastating Nepal earthquake gives the quake's intensity over the entire region. Visit the USGS' informative, up-to-date interactive map of the quake here. Map by USGS
The USGS shakemap of the devastating Nepal earthquake gives the quake’s intensity over the entire region. Visit the USGS’ informative, up-to-date interactive map of the quake here.
Map by USGS


Explore the tectonically active region of Himalayas in today's MapMaker Interactive.
Explore the tectonically active region of Himalayas in today’s MapMaker Interactive.

Discussion Ideas


dynamic crust
Click to visit the high-resolution zoomable, high-resolution version of this map.
Map by National Geographic



  • The Nepal quake is described as having a focal depth of 15 kilometers (9 miles). What is focal depth? Is 15 kilometers a deep focal depth?
    • The focal depth of an earthquake is how far below the surface of an earthquake’s epicenter the actual rupture took place.
    • Earthquakes can take place anywhere between one and 700 kilometers below Earth’s surface, so 15 kilometers is a pretty shallow depth. According to the USGS, shallow earthquakes are between 0 and 70 km deep; intermediate earthquakes, 70-300 km deep; and deep earthquakes, 300-700 km deep. According to our MapMaker Interactive, earthquakes with a focal depth close to the surface will usually cause more damage to people and infrastructure.



  • How are governments responding to the natural disaster in Nepal?
    • Nepal: National and regional agencies are working to rescue survivors, connect families who have been separated, establish shelters, and make sure hospitals and aid stations are stocked with supplies.
    • India: India responded within 15 minutes of the quake, establishing a massive, multimillion-dollar relief network called Operation Maitri (amity, or friendship). The Indian Air Force responded quickly to the avalanche on Mount Everest, and staged the first rescue missions there. The Indian Army similarly rescued survivors and recovered bodies on the mountain. Indian organizers helped evacuate hundreds of Nepalese citizens to shelters in both Nepal and India, and sent hundreds of first-responders, search-and-rescue dogs, engineers, and medical professionals to affected areas. The tons of emergency relief material already dispatched across the border include water, tents, food, blankets, first-aid equipment, sanitation supplies, and medicine. Engineers from Indian energy companies are working to restore power and fuel lines, and crews are clearing roads of debris. Politically, the government of India has also issued “goodwill visas” to foreigners trapped in Kathmandu and evacuating them to India, easing the responsibility of its Nepali neighbors. (Way to go, India.)
    • China: China has sent search-and-rescue teams to Nepal as well as its own affected areas in Tibet, and extended more than $3 million in aid, including tents, blankets, and electrical generators.
    • Bangladesh: Officials have evacuated Bangladeshi citizens from Nepal, and extended tons of relief, including tents, food, blankets, and medical supplies.
    • Learn more about other relief efforts here. These are just a few.
      • Israel: Israeli officials responded with relief supplies and teams of medical professionals. In particular, the government has evacuated at-risk infants to facilities in India and Israel.
      • Japan: Japan has responded with its own experienced team of earthquake professionals, including teams of field operations specialists, scientists, engineers, search-and-rescue experts, and sophisticated equipment.
      • United States: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded with $1 million in relief the day of the quake, and a search-and-rescue team left for Nepal almost immediately.


  • How are international organizations responding to the natural disaster in Nepal?
    • European Union: A huge aid package includes food, water, tents, and telecommunications equipment.
      United Nations: The UN is focusing on health, issuing kits including medicine, sanitation supplies, clean water, and food.
    • Red Cross-Red Crescent: Aid and relief efforts are coordinated through the organization’s hubs in India, Thailand, and Malaysia.
    • Doctors without Borders: Teams of medical professionals have already been dispatched, and equipment includes a portable hospital with a surgical recovery room (rare in emergency medicine).




Nat Geo: Nepal’s 7.8-Magnitude Quake Reaps Death, Destruction photo gallery

Nat Geo: Nepal country profile

Nat Geo: 2015 Nepal Earthquake: Factors and Influences map

Nat Geo: Earthquakes 101 video spotlight

Nat Geo: Earth’s Dynamic Crust map

USGS: M7.8 – 34km ESE of Lamjung, Nepal (this is probably your best resource for data about the earthquake)

USGS: Nepal Earthquake interactive map

OpenStreetMap: Nepal Earthquake 2015 tasks

7 thoughts on “Quake Devastates Nepal

  1. At the moment we are sharing our feelings with entire Nepal and earthquake affected regions of our country. Suraj Kumar, INDIA.

  2. Now i know the scientific component of earthquake and its dos & don’ts during this calamities.

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