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Did the 2015 Nepal earthquake shrink Mount Everest?

In April 2015, the Himalayan nation of Nepal was struck by a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that claimed nearly 9,000 lives and injured tens of thousands more.

Based on observations through satellite data, some scientists suspect the quake, which lasted for approximately 20 seconds, may have also caused Mount Everest to shrink, according to a report from Smithsonian Magazine.

In the earthquake's wake, the ground in the region shifted to such a degree that changes in the landscape were detectable through the comparison of before and after radar images gathered by satellite.

However, speculation and conflicting information has placed doubt on what extent the quake impacted Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain. Everest stood at 29,028 feet above sea level during Survey of India's last measurement in 1955.

Mount Everest

After an extended waiting process for legal approval, the Indian government is now in the final stages to "re-measure" the mountain.

"We are re-measuring it. It is almost two years since the major Nepal earthquake," Surveyor General of India Swarna Subba Rao said in late January during the Geospatial World Forum in the city of Hyderabad, India.

"After that, there is a doubt in the scientific community that it is shrinking. That is one of the reasons. Second reason is, it helps in scientific studies, plate movements," he added.

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According to the Times of India, the survey will take approximately a month and half for both observation and computation of the data collected.

"The new expedition will take several months to plan, monitor the weather and get the official clearances to summit the mountain and record its height," geologist Trevor Nace reported in Forbes.

Scientists will use both a Global Positioning System and ground and triangulation data collection methods for increased accuracy.

"We are doing at the same time by both methods for better confirmation," Rao said.


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The Ultimate Guide to Everest

The Himalayan range is geologically younger than other mountain ranges across the world and was shaped by the same powerful forces that led to the 2015 earthquake. The tectonic plate movement of the Indian Plate sliding beneath the Eurasian plate is the geologic force that has pushed the Himalayas to their extreme heights.

Mount Everest, which is shared between Nepal and China, is approximately 777 feet higher in elevation than the world's second-highest mountain, K2, which is located in Pakistan.

Whether or not Everest has lost any of its height, it is no danger of losing its number one spot in the world for tallest peak above sea level.

Even a small decrease from an earthquake will eventually rebound as the Himalayas continue to lift each year by approximately 0.4 of an inch, according to the Smithsonian Magazine.