Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake in southern Iran kills at least 32.

A Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake at a depth of 10 km hit southern Iran slightly after 3.20 pm local time (slightly after 11. 50 am GMT) on Tueday 9 April 2013 according to the United States Geological Survey. A quake of this magnitude at this depth is likely to cause widespread destrution and loss of life, and this quake does not appear to be an exception, with reports of significant destrution in the city of Kaki, close to the epicenter, and 32 reported deaths at the time of writing. The USGS estimates that there is a 62% chance of the number of deaths exceding 100 and a 28% chance of exceding 1000. Iran's single nuclear reactor, the Russian-operated Bushehr Plant, which lies 160 km to the northwest, was not harmed, though the quake was felt there. It was also felt in neighboring Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The area has been hit by several aftershocks.

The location of the 9 April 2013 Earthquake, and the areas likely to have felt the worst effects. Damage to buildings is likely within the green circle and likely to be more severe within the green circle. USGS.

The Arabian Plate is being pushed into the Eurasian Plate by the northward movement of the African Plate. The area where they meet is dominated by a zone of compressional folding called the Zagros Fold Belt, which is made up of a series of folds and faults and coincides with the southern coast of Iran. This is a typical feature when two continental plates collide, with more developed examples in the Alps and Himalayas. This is not a smooth process; the folding and breaking of continental plate under the pressure of a shifting continent involves the build up and then release of vast amounts of energy, and leads to frequent strong Earthquakes.

Simple map of the Zagros Fold Belt. Wikimedia Commons.

Section through the Zagros Fold Belt. Sarkarinejad & Azizi (2007).

Earthquakes in Iran can be particularly dangerous as, unlike many other quake-prone nations, the country has invested little in preparation for such events, with very few buildings, particularly residential buildings, being quake-proofed. This is made worse by the widespread use of mud-bricks, which can liquify during Earthquakes, causing buildings to collapse and drowning people inside in fine-powdered clay.

A residential area in Kaki after the 9 April quake. Mehr News Agency/Reuters.

See also Two major Earthquakes in northeast Iran, leading to heavy death tollEarthquake in Mojen, northern Iran. 12 August 2011 and Earthquakes on Sciency Thoughts YouTube.

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