Journal of Seismology

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 497–506 | Cite as

The Boumerdes (Algeria) earthquake of May 21, 2003 (Mw = 6.8): Ground deformation and intensity

  • Y. BouhadadEmail author
  • A. Nour
  • A. Slimani
  • N. Laouami
  • D. Belhai


A destructive earthquake of magnitude Mw = 6.8 hit the region of Boumerdes and Algiers (Algeria) on May 21, 2003. This is among the strongest seismic events of the mediterranean region and the most important event in the capital Algiers since 1716. It caused a widespread damage in the epicentral region, claimed 2271 human lives, injured 10000, about 20000 housing units affected and left about 160000 homeless. The main shock was felt about 250 km far from the epicenter and triggered sea waves of 1–3 m in amplitude in Balearic islands (Spain). Based on field observations and press report an intensity IX (MSK scale) is attributed to the epicentral area. The main shock was followed by many aftershocks among them several are of magnitude greater than 5.0, which added panic to inhabitants. The main shock triggered ground deformation, particularly liquefaction whose features are in different forms and sizes and caused damage and collapse of roads. The focal mechanism determined by worldwide institutions yield a pure reverse faulting with a compressional axis striking NE-SW. The epicenter is located offshore about 7 km from the Boumerdes-Dellys coast. Field observations show 0.7 m of coseismic uplift of shoreline between Boudouaou and Dellys. This uplift is about a half of the extracted coseismic slip from the seismic moment. On the other hand there is no clear surface break onshore, confirming hence, that the causative active fault is offshore. However, the rupture may propagate onshore to the SE near the Boudouaou region where ground cracks showing reverse faulting are observed a long a corridor of about 1 km wide. These fissures may correspond to a diffuse coseismic deformation.

Key words

earthquake intensity liquefaction coseismic uplift reverse faulting ground cracks offshore Algeria 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Bouhadad
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • A. Nour
    • 1
  • A. Slimani
    • 1
  • N. Laouami
    • 1
  • D. Belhai
    • 2
  1. 1.CGSNational Center of Applied Research in Earthquake EngineeringAlgeirs
  2. 2.FSTGATUniversity of Science and Technology of Algiers (USTHB)Algiers

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