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Jordan Studies Impact of Earthquakes of the Future in Petra Region

Dec 28, 2013 4:00 am

Skift Take

Jordan is showing that it’s better to plan before the earthquakes than after.

— Dennis Schaal

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Larry Downing  / Reuters

President Barack Obama stops to look at the Treasury as he takes a walking tour of the ancient historic and archaeological site of Petra March 23, 2013. Larry Downing / Reuters


A study released this week warned of a marginal risk on buildings, roads and infrastructure components in the Petra region of Jordan due to the anticipated level of seismic hazard in the area, in addition to potential risk in case of flash floods, landslides and rock slides in certain locations.

“Locations of critical elements at risk are identified, and careful attention to these elements should be taken into consideration by applying mitigation plans and implementing rather stringent construction design guidelines for retaining walls,” the UNDP’s Integrated Risk Assessment for the Petra Development and Tourism Region recommended.

Jordan lies along the seismically active Dead Sea Transform Fault, with estimates predict a major earthquake every 100 years.

The study will be periodically updated to reflect variations in population, construction activities, drainage system alterations and changes in cadastral information.

It aims at briefing decision makers in Petra on the objective of disaster risk reduction and mitigation in the region.

The study lists different scenarios for earthquakes in Wadi Musa in Maan Governorate, some 220km south of Amman, so that decision makers can develop strategies to protect the area.

According to the study, Wadi Musa is located at the eastern areas of the wide zone of active earth deformation and it was affected by earthquakes resulting from the associated deformation and many active faults in western parts of the city.

“However, the main active fault affecting Wadi Musa is the Dead Sea Transform Fault,” the study said.

Through the study, two earthquake scenarios were developed to provide examples of the potential levels of future earthquake shaking and the type of lifeline impacts that may occur.

The first scenario is based on a future magnitude 7 earthquake of the Dead Sea Zone, with associated surface rupture of the fault trace and an epicentre distance of about 140km.

A second scenario is based on a future rupture of the Gulf of Aqaba Fault in a magnitude 7 earthquake with an epicentre distance of about 100km.

The study also showed that most of the buildings in Wadi Musa are expected to suffer either no damage or moderate damage for both scenarios based either on a seismic source in the Dead Sea region or in the Aqaba region.

The building classes that appear most vulnerable represent buildings built after the year 2000, and classified as medium-capacity code, according to the study.

Seismic activity is normal in the Jordan Rift Valley area, which extends from northern Jordan down to the Dead Sea and is part of the Great Rift Valley that stretches from the Taurus Mountains of Turkey down to the Zambezi Valley in southern Africa. ___

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