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Quarry blasts mistaken for tremors.

Abu Dhabi Communities living up to five kilometres in the vicinity of quarries often mistake controlled explosions at the site for earthquake tremors, the head of the seismology department at the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) told Gulf News.

What can feel like a tremor is actually just an everyday occurrence, Khamis Al Shamsi, Head of the Seismic Department, NCMS, said.

The Abu Dhabi-based centre started collecting earthquake records in 2008 and has a seismic monitoring network across the UAE. It is also linked in to the Oman seismic monitoring network and the Dubai Municipality's local monitoring network, based in its Survey Department.

According to Al Shamsi, there are two main sources for the tremors that are felt in the UAE: earthquakes in the South and South-East of Iran and the Makran Subduction Zone in the Arabian Sea. A subduction zone is an area on the earth's crust where two tectonic plates move towards one another and one slides under the other.

"These [sources] have a low to moderate effect in the northern parts of the UAE because they are close to the sources. The tremors have a low to moderate magnitude," Al Shamsi said.

The highest tremor recorded was in Masafi in 2002, which reached 5.1 on the Richter scale and was recorded on the Oman monitoring network. It was caused by the active Dibba (or EoACAyOman') fault line, which stretches for 100km along the coast of the country.

For comparison, the devastating March 11 earthquake in Japan measured 9.0 on the Richter scale.

According to Al Shamsi, there aren't currently any earthquake prediction capabilities, although the centre monitors seisemic activity 24 hours a day.

"Low tremors in the northern parts of the UAE could happen, but it's not active like in Iran, Turkey or Pakistan," he said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Jun 17, 2011
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