Quake Monitoring To Be Expanded

RIYADH, 24 October 2004 — Saudi Arabia will expand its network of earthquake monitoring centers by adding three high-powered digital seismic stations within six months. The Riyadh-based King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), the central scientific organization to monitor seismic activities with a mandate to report any tremor or aftershocks directly to the Saudi government, is working on the expansion project.

This was disclosed by Dr. Tariq Ali Al-Khalifa of the Institute of Astronomical and Geophysical Research at KACST here yesterday. Khalifa said that KACST would complete the expansion project of the “Saudi Arabian National Digital Seismographic Network (SANDSN) within six months from now. Three new monitoring stations will be set up under this project to record all kinds of seismic activities experienced by the Kingdom and the region as a whole,” he said.

A number of studies and investigations of seismicity and seismotectonics of the Arabian Peninsula and its bordering regions carried out by experts have emphasized the need for establishing a large network to monitor seismic activities particularly in Saudi Arabia. Such a need was further stressed by the relatively disastrous quakes that hit Yemen in 1982, Egypt in 1992, the Gulf of Aqabah in 1995 and Turkey in 1999. Saudi Arabia also reports four earthquakes every year with seismic intensity ranging from low to moderate levels.

The last major quake reported in the Kingdom was in 1995, which caused some damage in Tabuk area. A mild earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale hit a desert area in northern Saudi Arabia on June 10, though the damage was minimal.

At the moment, most of the quake-monitoring stations are located in the Western Region, which is more prone to earthquakes.

Khalifa said many seismic studies and research programs have been undertaken by KACST and other government agencies.

“The seismographic network as much as it is expanded would help scientists to receive more information, which will enable the local scientists to advise the government about the high-risk zones,” said a report on SANDSN obtained by Arab News. Saudi cities and towns with substantial population like Tabuk, Haqal, Abha, Khamis Mushayat and Baha can be called high-risk zones. The report, however, says that the Kingdom is very stable compared to other Arab countries in terms of seismic activities.

There had only been a modest amount of earthquake seismological work done in the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab world at large, said the report. Several neighboring countries have seismograph stations, but most are equipped with weak, short-period vertical seismometers. The networks are sparse and often poorly located.

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