Examination of a relationship between atmospheric blocking and seismic events in the Middle East using a new seismo-climatic index

  • Mohammad Reza Mansouri DaneshvarEmail author
  • Friedemann T. Freund


This study statistically examines the role of atmospheric blocking as a precursor of major seismic events. Atmospheric blocking archive and earthquake databases for the Middle East region are compiled for 2000–2013. Correlations between atmospheric blocking events and seismicity are examined based on defined seismo-climatic index (SCI) based on variations of earthquake frequency and magnitude before and after blocking events. Limiting the SCI index to values > 6, 16 out of 26 major earthquakes (M > 6), i.e. 62%, are shown to have occurred within 14 days after blocking events over their respective epicentral regions. The correlation between blocking events and subsequent seismicity falls into a range of 0.694–0.803. Additional blocking-related atmospheric anomalies such as cyclogenesis, cloud coverage, and anomalous rainfall prior to major earthquakes can be understood as processes that take place in the Earth’s crust and at the ground-to-air interface as a result of the stress activation of positive hole charge carriers at depth, in the hypocentral rock volume, and their rapid migration to the Earth’s surface. Hence, atmospheric blocking events in a seismically active region may be categorized as an earthquake precursory phenomenon.


Atmospheric blocking Seismo-climatic index Seismicity Earthquake frequency and magnitude Middle East 



M.R. Mansouri-Daneshvar likes to dedicate the present paper to his late dear mother Aghdas Nasle-Saraji for her never-failing support and to Somayeh Rezayi and Artina Mansouri-Daneshvar for their precious help during data preparation. The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on the data interpretations. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank the handling editor Dr. Stefan Schmid for his valuable technical suggestions and practical considerations on the paper from its submission to the publication process.


This study was not funded by any grant.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from individual participant included in the study.


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© Swiss Geological Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Natural HazardsResearch Institute of Shakhes PajouhIsfahanIran
  2. 2.GeoCosmo Science and Research CenterNASA Ames Research ParkMoffett FieldUSA

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