Posted on November 21, 2014

Qatar Meteorology Department (QMD) yesterday announced the official launch of six seismic monitoring stations across the country, while another 20 are to be developed next year in Doha and Al Dafna, said The Peninsula. Of the six, three are in Abu Samra, Trinah and Umm Weishah in the south and six in Al Khor, Leghweria and Leshheinmiah in the north. “After the major earthquake of April 2013 in Iran-Pakistan bordering area (7.4 on the Richter scale), whose tremors were felt here, we decided to enhance our seismic monitoring abilities in line with Qatar National Vision 2030,” Mohammed Jabir Almarri, Meteorology Specialist, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority which oversees QMD, told reporters.

Almarri said the new facilities will help provide more data and information about seismic activities to enable all concerned people to make informed decisions, especially with regard architectural and infrastructure developments which can be designed accordingly. Three stations have devices placed about two-three metres underground to measure high, medium and low level frequencies related to the earth’s movement and acceleration.

“There are people at the headquarters working 24x7 and preparing daily reports. After detecting any serious seismic activity or potential threat, we would immediately alert all concerned agencies, including Civil Defence, for action, such as issuing warnings and vacating buildings, he added. “Data from the network will be freely available for all government and private agencies and individuals, including researchers for analyses and interpretation.”

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The launch ceremony at QMD headquarters in Abu Hamour, under the patronage and in the presence of Abdulaziz Al Noaimi, Chairman, QCCA, was attended by senior officials from the Ministry of Interior and QMD. Asked what magnitude of earthquake would be considered alarming for the country, Almarri said: “There is no specific number, but any earthquake above 5 on the Richter scale could be called alarming levels.” “Qatar is on the margin of seismically active zone, Iran, which is 1,000km way, so there is always a potential danger. In line with Qatar National Vision 2030, many important buildings and infrastructure are being developed here. So we must be proactive in protecting assets and, more importantly, the human life, especially with regard to FIFA World Cup 2022, which will be attended by people from around the world.”

Given Qatar’s economic significance and efforts towards sustainable development, the country started seismic studies in 1990s by establishing four seismic monitoring stations, and in 2013 started enhancing the network which completed this June. No major earthquakes have been recorded in Qatar except some minor and moderate tremors recorded by international monitoring networks. The only big earthquake in the country was in 1929, measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale, according to QMD.