Earthquake Early Warning in Kathmandu (2022-2023)


In 2015, the Gorkha Earthquake Disaster in Nepal took the lives of 9,000 people. More than 22,000 people were injured, 3.5 million lost their homes and the economic loss of $10 billion represented half of Nepal’s annual GDP. 

Studies of the Gorkha earthquake warn that the redistribution of tectonic stress is now ratcheting the Main Himalayan Thrust zone toward another rupture that would surpass the 2015 disaster. Earthquake early warning is the only way to save human lives and prevent devastation of Kathmandu communities.

Project Description

Building on an existing collaboration between faculty at Duke and Tribhuvan University of Kathmandu and the work of a previous Bass Connections team, this project team will advance an interdisciplinary approach for the development of earthquake early warning in the Kathmandu Valley. The most immediate goals will be to place a smart seismic sensing network in Kathmandu and continue to build in-country capacity for seismic hazard analysis and mitigation.

Team members will conduct collaborative research on public policy, social science, data science and engineering to develop and operate a seismic sensing network that could be used for earthquake early warning in Kathmandu. The team will build and test the seismic sensing network, participate in developing new machine learning methods and build relationships with stakeholders to foster the nationally-financed commitment needed for systems operations and management. 

Team members will collaborate with the Institute of Engineering at Tribhuvan University and the Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology, and develop similar connections to the Department of Disaster Management and the Nepal Disaster Risk Mitigation and Management Agency. These collaborators will provide the necessary framework for the implementation and operation of a region-wide seismic sensor network. 

Anticipated Outputs

Technology for smart sensing networks for earthquake early warning; scientific publications; research and data for future grants

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this project team will include 1-2 graduate students and 5-6 undergraduate students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, including computer science, engineering, statistics, economics, international development, public policy and political science.

Team members will divide into three subteams: sensor development, hazard analysis and public policy/decision science. Depending on their subteam, participants will gain experience in sensor development engineering, hazard risk investigation and modeling and understanding the sociopolitical landscape of Nepal. In Fall 2022, the team will meet on Wednesdays from 9:00-10:00 a.m.

Team members will have the chance to see how interviews and surveys can guide new technology development and will learn about both the potential and limitations of technological solutions. All students will develop teamwork and leadership skills as well as skills in international and cross-cultural collaboration.

Selected participants will have the opportunity to travel to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Rachael Lau will serve as project manager.

See the related Data+ project for Summer 2022; there is a separate application process for students who are interested in this optional component.


Summer 2022 – Spring 2023

  • Summer 2022 (optional): Selected students will travel to Nepal to spend 2 weeks working alongside local collaborators and shaping their individual research foci for the fall and spring semesters
  • Fall 2022: Conduct research in individual groups; participate in weekly meetings, submit research proposals for the spring semester
  • Spring 2023: Continue working on the research tasks outlined in the research proposals; present research to partnering organizations 


Academic credit available for fall and spring semesters; summer funding available

See related Data+ summer project, Pilot Earthquake Early Warning in Kathmandu (2022), and earlier related team, Earthquake Early Warning in Nepal: Technology, Behavioral Science and Policy (2020-2021).


Image: Courtesy of the Earthquake Early Warning project team

Early Warning.

Team Leaders

  • Henri Gavin, Pratt School of Engineering-Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Rachael Lau, Pratt–Civil and Environmental Engineering–Ph.D. Student

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Peter Malin, Nicholas School of the Environment-Earth and Climate Sciences

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Bharat Mandal, Tribhuvan University - Institute of Engineering
  • Anil Pokhrel, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) Nepal
  • Surya Shrestha, Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology