Northern Oman more vulnerable to earthquakes

MUSCAT: Northern parts of Oman are more vulnerable to earthquake risks, according to a study by experts. Scientists studying seismic hazard assessment for the Sultanate, say that based on calculations on how hard the earth shakes in a given geographic area (Peak Ground Acceleration, PGA), the highest hazard is found in the northernmost city Khasab.

This is because of the proximity of Khasab to Zagros and Makran seismic zones near the Strait of Hormuz. Earthquakes at a distance of 90 km from Khasab contribute most to the hazard of this city. These findings were discussed at the second workshop on seismic hazard assessment for the Sultanate of Oman, organised by the Earthquake Monitoring Centre at Sultan Qaboos University yesterday. Dr Eissa El Hussain, Director of the Earthquake Monitoring Centre, presented the results on the “probabilistic and deterministic seismic hazard assessment of the Sultanate of Oman”.

The workshop marks the completion of the seismic hazard assessment study for Oman. Speaking on the occasion, Prof Amer bin Ali al Rawas, SQU Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research, said the study on seismic hazard assessment for Oman comes from SQU’s efforts to build capacity in this area.

“The government is aware to the importance of the earthquake risk assessment. Hence, the Council of Ministers has assigned the task of preparing a study of the risk of earthquakes in the Sultanate to the Earthquake Monitoring Centre at SQU in cooperation with the relevant authorities in the Sultanate.”

The project began at the end of 2009, where a committee was formed to oversee it, headed by SQU with members from the Muscat Municipality, Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, and the Supreme Council for Planning,” Prof Al Rawas said.

The deputy vice-chancellor said that the results of this study have shown that the northern areas of the Sultanate may be more vulnerable to earthquake risks than Muscat. “So we have to start thinking about conducting detailed studies on earthquake risks of northern areas, especially the areas with high population density and major economic significance. Therefore, a permanent committee called the ‘Committee for Monitoring Earthquakes’ has been formed to establish construction and development perceptions in terms of seismic risks.”

In the subsequent session of the workshop Dr Ahmed Deif from SQU presented a paper on “mitigation of seismic risk by microzonation in Muscat area”. Microzonation maps provide city planners with better understanding of spatial variation of seismic hazard to develop various hazard mitigation strategies for cities.
Prof Eser Cakti from Bogazici University in Turkey spoke on development of shake maps for Muscat.

Dr Ufuk Hacilar from Bogazici University covered the topic “development of risks maps for Muscat,” while Prof

Dral Safak from the Turkish university presented a paper on “development of Oman seismic design code for buildings”.


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