Tremors are natural, design can ease impact

SAMUEL KUTTY –
MUSCAT, FEB 24 –

There is no increase in the number of earthquakes in the region. The Sultanate, with its enhanced seismic monitoring system, is capable of detecting even micro earthquakes.
According to Dr Issa al Hussain, Director of Earthquake Monitoring Centre at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), it is natural to feel earthquakes at an almost constant rate as our region is surrounded by a number of active seismic belts.
“It is just because that our monitoring has become more efficient, and also due to the influence of social media that circulate such reports… you get the feeling that seismic activities are on the rise”, said Dr Issa in an interview.
While allaying fears about reports of frequent occurrence in the number of quakes, he said, “it should not be a source of concern provided earthquake resistant guidelines are followed when designing and constructing buildings”.
According to Dr Issa, the Centre regularly assesses seismic risks across the Sultanate by probabilistic and deterministic techniques, and gauges the impact of those risks on buildings, enterprises and individuals in the country, in addition to producing a manual for designing quake-resistant buildings.
“We also manage to determine the characteristics of the soil and the marshy areas in Duqm, examined minor tremors in Jbal oilfield, and seismic hazards and design characteristics of constructions near an oilfield in northern Oman”, Dr Issa told the Academic Bulletin published by Deanship of Research at SQU.
He said in the interview that a potential tsunami risk in the north part of the Sea of Oman on some facilities in Alglalh was also assessed by the Centre, which is equipped with advanced seismic monitoring network to detect micro earthquakes.
“Now we have 20 monitoring stations and conducts field surveys to add more to enhance the effectiveness and accuracy of seismic monitoring”, he said.
Recently, the centre issued the Omani Seismological Network bulletin. It includes the overall seismic activity in the Sultanate and nearby areas, as well as the regional and distant tremors.
The bulletin provides data about the geographical locations of the earthquakes recorded during 2015.
There were 1009 quakes, 516 of which were local and regional, while the remaining 493 were beyond the Sultanate.
Most local and regional earthquakes were located in the southern and eastern Iran, the Zagros Mountains, the Sea of Oman and the Owen fracture zone region in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Some of them were recorded in the territory of Oman, and there were three earthquakes felt by the Sultanate’s residents in 2015.

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