Tuesday, April 16, 2013

7.8 Mag Quake Strikes South Eastern Iran

A 7.8 magnitude quake struck Iran near the city of Khāsh, near the Iran/Pakistan border, at a depth of approximately 82km. The quake was felt thousands of miles away and could easily be felt in New Dehli, India. The quake occurred about 66 miles East of the Iranian volcano of Taftan, which displays summit fumerolic activity, and has a (questionable) history of modern era eruptions. Another volcano in the (somewhat) near vicinity is Bazman, which also displays fumerolic activity, but like Taftan has no confirmed history of historical eruption.

Large earthquakes this close to large stratovolcanoes can be a concern, as plate slippage may generate magma injections, or destabilize magma chambers with pressure or rock fractures. It is far, far too early to tell whether this might be the case for these volcanoes, but I suspect that activity at them will not change given the history of large quakes in the area, and the fact that the volcanoes (as far as we know) haven't had any confirmed eruptive activity in recent times. But as is the case with volcanoes, you never truly know what they are up to.

Injuries were reported in an area that is home to around 400,000 residents, but the exact numbers have yet to be accurately reported. many buildings were damaged or destroyed in multiple areas.

Iran recently experienced another damaging earthquake at mag 6.2 near one of its nuclear power plants. Official statements from Iran following the quake indicated that the size and location of the quake would not deter the building of new plants, and a joint statement form Iran, and the Russian company that built the plant estimated that the nuclear facility could easily withstand a quake of up to magnitude 8.0. It is unclear if the current quake was near any such facility, but that has not been in any of the reports that I have read so far.

Aftershocks will most likely plague the area for a couple of days, if not for weeks, and more moderate shaking is probable. As Iran does not have a very public interface for volcanic monitoring, any change in activity is likely only to be reported on either social media, or other less-than-reliable channels unless NASA or an equivalent space program directs its satellites to check them out. More than likely, the volcanoes will keep on doing what they've been doing... a whole lot of nothing.

Google Earth/USGS snapshot of quake location and vicinity of 'active' volcanoes. 

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