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VII-intensity earthquakes expected in Almaty oblast in 2013

08 february 2013, 18:10
Almaty oblast is expected to be hit by earthquakes of up to VII in intensity in 2013, Director of Kazakhstan Seismology Institute Tanatkan Abakanov told Tengrinews.kz.

"There is a medium-term forecast. There is a 70 percent probability that south-east of Almaty oblast will be hit by strong earthquakes of less than 6.5 in magnitude and up to VII by intensity in 2013. This is our forecast for the mountainous areas. There will be no stronger earthquakes in this region. Basically, we do not expect any cataclysms. We keep our noses on the wind. We will update you on any changes in this region," Abakanov said.

Besides, he added that smaller earthquakes of magnitude below 4 or 5 and intensity of IV to VI in the epicenter are possible near Taldykorgan and Zharkent station, south-east of Almaty and south-west of Kokpek village.

The expert also gave a short-term forecast for the week. According to his information, no strong or destructive earthquakes are expected in Almaty oblast before February 13.

Abakanov said that the Institutes medium-term forecasts made over the previous 7 years were correct. He reminded that the biggest earthquake of 2012 happened on May 31 146km from Almaty. The total of 19 tangible earthquakes were registered in Kazakhstan in 2012.

An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. Two fundamentally different but equally important types of scales are commonly used by seismologists to describe earthquakes.

Magnitude characterizes the size of an earthquake by measuring indirectly the energy released. Magnitude is normally measured by Richter scale.

The typical effects of earthquakes with 6.5-magnitude forecasted for Almaty oblast by Abakanov are characterized in the Richter scale as follows: "Can be damaging/destructive in populated areas in regions of any size. Damage to many to all buildings. Earthquake-resistant structures survive with slight to moderate damage. Poorly-designed structures receive moderate to severe damage. Felt in wider areas; likely to be hundreds of miles/kilometers from the epicenter. Can be damaging of any level further from the epicenter. Strong to violent shaking in epicentral area. Death toll between none and 25,000."

An average frequency of occurrence of 6.5-magnitude earthquakes is 100 to 150 per year around the world.

By contrast, intensity indicates the local effects and potential for damage produced by an earthquake on the Earth's surface as it affects humans, animals, structures, and natural objects such as bodies of water. Intensities represent the severity of the shaking resulting from an earthquake. Numerous intensity scales have been developed and are used in different parts of the world. Kazakhstan is using the Medvedev-Sponheuer-Karnik scale, also known as the MSK or MSK-64.

The MSK scale has 12 intensity degrees. Intensity VII (Very Strong) is characterized in this scale as follows: "Most people are frightened and try to run outdoors. Furniture is moving across the floor and may be overturned. Objects fall from shelves. Water splashes from containers. Serious damage id done to older buildings, masonry chimneys collapse. Small landslides."

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