By Amina Nazarli
The territory of Azerbaijan, located within the central part of the Mediterranean mobile belt, is characterized by high geological activity due to the dynamics of the Arabian and Eurasian lithospheric plates.
The seismogenic zones with potential to produce dangerous force cover the whole country as the Alpine-Himalayan seismic belt passes through Azerbaijan. Strong and catastrophic earthquakes that took place several times in this area from ancient times till now caused huge destructions.
Therefore, Azerbaijan is considered to be a seismically active region – a lot of earthquakes occur here every year, however, majority of them are not felt.
Over the past period of this year, some 3,603 earthquakes have been recorded in Azerbaijan.
Saida Ismayilova, Chief of the Earthquake Research Bureau of the Republican Seismic Survey Center said that in 2016, the number of earthquakes occurred in Azerbaijan and adjacent areas hit 6,463.
“Depth of over 40 percent of the earthquakes in Azerbaijan and adjacent areas varies between 10 and 20 km. Over the past period of 2016, 2175 earthquake recorded in the region with depth of 10 and 20 km,” she told local media.
The bureau chief said, in this period, 74 earthquakes of magnitude greater than 3 occurred in the country. “Just 14 quakes were felt,” she added.
Ismayilova named seismically active zones in Azerbaijan and adjacent areas in 2016, mentioning that Pirgulu, Lankaran, Lerik, Astara, Ordubad, Nakhchivan were seismically active areas during this year.
A boom in construction in recent years and transforming the capital into a new hub of high-rise buildings as well as growing number of capital’s population contribute to growing vulnerability of the Baku city to earthquakes.
Currently, Azerbaijan’s scientists are working on a new project on assessment of a seismic risk in the capital city. National scientists will work together with German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ), who agreed to give an appropriate support to Azerbaijan in this regard.
The project will start in April-May 2017 by installing GFZ pool equipment in Baku for the project of seismic micro zoning.
The last strong earthquakes of the 21st century in Baku were held in November 2000 measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, the strongest for almost 160 years.
Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli
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