Nepali Himalayan Fault Line Expert Wins 2015 C.N.R. Rao Prize

Professor Bishal Nath Upreti has been awarded the 2015 C.N.R. Rao Prize for his contributions to geoscience in Nepal.

AsianScientist (Nov. 27, 2015) – Nepali geologist Bishal Nath Upreti is the winner of the 2015 C.N.R. Rao Prize for scientific research. He received the award “for his outstanding contributions to the investigation of the stratigraphy and tectonics of the Nepal Himalayas and our understanding of the geology of Nepal.”

His research has practical implications in many fields: for earthquake landslide hazard assessment, mineral exploration, water resource development, and the constructions of dams, tunnels, roads and bridges.

The C.N.R. Rao prize acknowledges dedication and high-impact research by scientists from Least Developing Countries (LDCs). The prize was established by Indian chemist C.N.R. Rao, a Founding Fellow and former president of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).

“I am highly delighted to receive the prestigious C.N.R. Rao Prize from TWAS,” Upreti said. “This is my first international award, and perhaps the first international award received by any Nepali geoscientist. I consider this prize to be an honor not only to me but an honor to the entire geoscientific community of Nepal. This prize certainly motivates me to contribute more in science in the developing countries.”

Upreti, elected to TWAS in 2006, is a professor in the department of geology at the University of Zambia in Lusaka and a TWAS Research Professor (2012-2017) in the same university. He is also the president of the Disaster Preparedness Network-Nepal (DPNet Nepal), a network that includes more than 100 NGOs, UN agencies, Nepalese government ministries and other agencies involved in the field of disaster risk reduction.

His field of expertise lies in structural geology and tectonics, a discipline that studies the processes controlling structure and properties of the Earth’s crust. For over 16 years he has worked as the head of the central department of geology at Kirtipur Campus and the Department of Geology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal and was the Dean of Science. But he has more than 40 years of professional research experience in the field of geology, and Nepalese geology in particular.

The work he has carried out with his collaborators is unveiling the tectonics of the Nepal Himalaya, starting 500 million years ago in Lower Paleozoic time. At that time, Upreti’s data suggests, a mountain belt existed long before the Himalaya was born. By investigating the Main Central Thrust—one of the three master faults of the Himalaya—Upreti wrote a chapter of the history of Himalayan uplift after the collision between India and Asia that occurred 55-60 million years ago.

However, his scientific contributions are not limited to history. Indeed they have major impact on the present day. Upreti has mapped active faults to build the chronology of the historic and prehistoric earthquakes in the Nepal Himalaya. His data is now being used to evaluate the seismic hazard in the Nepal Himalayan region.

He was in Kathmandu when a devastating earthquake occurred on 25, April 2015. In the first four to five days after the quake, he was actively involved as a geoscientist in providing technical information on the disaster and on safe measures to be taken.

“In the days immediately after the April earthquake, we did field mappings in the Kathmandu Valley,” he recalls.

His GPS data were analyzed within three days, with the help of international collaborators, and the results were made public. They are already published in Seismological Research Letters.

With a career of many international collaborations behind him, Upreti’s current appointment as a TWAS Research Professor at University Zambia is a matter of pride.

“It is a great experience to learn the culture and people of Zambia and to know their education system,” Upreti said.

While carrying out scientific research, Upreti is also involved in outreach activities. Through public lectures, lectures in schools, radio and television programs, he acted to help shape preparedness for future earthquakes. He also participated and contributed in a large number of national and international programs on public awareness campaigns.


Source: The World Academy of Sciences.
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