Still, on the whole, the Himalayas continue to grow to stupendous heights, studies show. Some parts of the Himalayas are rising about 0.4 inches (1 cm) every year, due to the ongoing collision between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates.
"This is only one earthquake, and the overall tectonics give you uplift of the mountains," Wright said.
The new data from the satellite also confirm what researchers had detected from seismometers: The fault involved in the earthquake ruptured eastward, out from the earthquake epicenter, Wright said. "Presumably, much of the damage will be to the east of the epicenter," he said.
The April 25 earthquake struck on a shallowly-dipping thrust fault that angled only 10 degrees from the surface. The structure of this fault meant the damage was spread over an area of more than 5,600 square miles (more than 14,000 square km).
In size and structure, the magnitude-7.8 earthquake compares most closely to temblors on subduction zones, said Rich Briggs, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado. "We don't often see a big, broad bulge at the surface like we see with this one," Briggs said.
Scientists plan to continue monitoring ground changes in Nepal. For instance, the fault did not break all the way up to the Earth's surface, which may mean that some strain that built up prior to the earthquake still needs to be unleashed. The fault could release this energy with more earthquakes or by slowly shifting without triggering major temblors - a phenomenon called creep. Further studies will also help researchers understand how the earthquake stressed other faults on either side of the rupture.
"I think this will give us our clearest insight into the workings of the faults along the Himalayan front," said Stephen Hicks, a seismologist at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.
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