Journal of Seismology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

Locations and magnitudes of earthquakes in Central Asia from seismic intensity data

  • D. Bindi
  • S. Parolai
  • A. Gómez-Capera
  • M. Locati
  • Z. Kalmetyeva
  • N. Mikhailova
Original Article


We apply the Bakun and Wentworth (Bull Seism Soc Am 87:1502–1521, 1997) method to determine the location and magnitude of earthquakes occurred in Central Asia using MSK-64 intensity assignments. The attenuation model previously derived and validated by Bindi et al. (Geophys J Int, 2013) is used to analyse 21 earthquakes that occurred over the period 1885–1964, and the estimated locations and magnitudes are compared to values available in literature. Bootstrap analyses are performed to estimate the confidence intervals of the intensity magnitudes, as well as to quantify the location uncertainty. The analyses of seven significant earthquakes for the hazard assessment are presented in detail, including three large historical earthquakes that struck the northern Tien-Shan between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries: the 1887, M 7.3 Verny, the 1889, M 8.3 Chilik and the 1911, M 8.2 Kemin earthquakes. Regarding the 1911, Kemin earthquake the magnitude values estimated from intensity data are lower (i.e. MILH = 7.8 and MIW = 7.6 considering surface wave and moment magnitude, respectively) than the value M = 8.2 listed in the considered catalog. These values are more in agreement with the value M S = 7.8 revised by Abe and Noguchi (Phys Earth Planet In, 33:1–11, 1983b) for the surface wave magnitude. For the Kemin earthquake, the distribution of the bootstrap solutions for the intensity centre reveal two minima, indicating that the distribution of intensity assignments do not constrain a unique solution. This is in agreement with the complex source rupture history of the Kemin earthquake, which involved several fault segments with different strike orientations, dipping angles and focal mechanisms (e.g. Delvaux et al. in Russ Geol Geophys 42:1167–1177, 2001; Arrowsmith et al. in Eos Trans Am Geophys Union 86(52), 2005). Two possible locations for the intensity centre are obtained. The first is located on the easternmost sub-faults (i.e. the Aksu and Chon-Aksu segments), where most of the seismic moment was released (Arrowsmith et al. in Eos Trans Am Geophys Union 86(52), 2005). The second location is located on the westernmost sub-faults (i.e. the Dzhil'-Aryk segment), close to the intensity centre location obtained for the 1938, M 6.9 Chu-Kemin earthquake (MILH = 6.9 and MIW = 6.8).


Intensity data Historical earthquake Central Asia 



The authors thank S. Hough, an anonymous reviewer and the associate editor for their comments that led to an improvement of the paper. This work has been carried out in the framework of the project EMCA-Earthquake Model Central Asia, and supported by the Global Change Observatory-Central Asia initiative of the GFZ. Kevin Fleming kindly revised our English.


  1. Abe K (1981) Magnitudes of large shallow earthquakes from 1904 to 1980. Phys Earth Planet Inter 27:72–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abe K, Noguchi S (1983a) Determination of magnitude for large shallow earthquakes 1898–1917. Phys Earth Planet Inter 32:45–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abe K, Noguchi S (1983b) Revision of magnitudes of large shallow earthquakes, 1897–1912. Phys Earth Planet Inter 33:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Al Atik L, Abrahamson N, Bommer JJ, Scherbaum F, Cotton F, Kuehn N (2010) The variability of ground motion prediction models and its components. Seismol Res Lett 81(5):794–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Allen TI, Wald DJ, Worden CB (2012) Intensity attenuation for active crustal regions. J Seismol 16:409–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ambraseys N, Bilham R (2012) The Sarez-Pamir earthquake and landslide of 18 February 1911. Seism Res Lett 83(2):294–394. doi: 10.1785/gssrl.83.2.294 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ameri G, Bindi D, Pacor F, Galadini F (2011) The 2009 April 6, Mw 6.3 L'Aquila (central Italy) earthquake: finite-fault effects on intensity data. Geophys J Int 186:837–851. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2011.05069.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Arrowsmith JR, Crosby CJ, Korjenkov AM, Mamyrov E. and IE. Povolotskaya (2005). Surface rupture of the 1911 Kebin (Chon-Kemin) earthquake, Northern Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan, Eos Trans. AGU, 86(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract T51F-05Google Scholar
  9. Babaev AM, Ischuk AR, and Negmatullaev SK (2005). Seismic conditions of the territory of Tajikistan. Publication of the International University of TajikistanGoogle Scholar
  10. Bakun WH (2000) Seismicity of California's north coast. Bull Seism Soc Am 90:797–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bakun WH (2006) Estimating locations and magnitudes of earthquakes in Southern California from modified Mercalli intensities. Bull Seism Soc Am 96:1278–1295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bakun WH, Scotti O (2006) Regional intensity attenuation models for France and the estimation of magnitude and location of historical earthquakes. Geophys J Int 164:596–610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bakun WH, Wentworth CM (1997) Estimating earthquake location and magnitude from seismic intensity data. Bull Seism Soc Am 87:1502–1521Google Scholar
  14. Bakun WH, Wentworth CM (1999) Erratum to Estimating earthquake location and magnitude from seismic intensity data. Bull Seism Soc Am 89:557Google Scholar
  15. Bindi D, Parolai S, Oth A, Abdrakhmatov K, Muraliev A, Zschau J (2011) Intensity prediction equations for Central Asia. Geophys J Int 187:327–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bindi D, AA Gómez Capera, S Parolai, K Abdrakhmatov, M Stucchi, J. Zschau (2013). Location and magnitudes of earthquakes in Central Asia from seismic intensity data: model calibration and validation. Geophys J Int. doi: 10.1093/gji/ggs039
  17. Bogdanovich KI, IM Kark, B, Ya Korol'kov, DI Mushketov (1914), Earthquake in northern district of Tien Shan, 22 December 1910 (4 January 1911) (in Russian), St. Petersburg, 270 pp.Google Scholar
  18. Bormann P (2002) IASPEI new manual of seismological observatory practice. In: Bormann P (ed) Magnitude of seismic events, vol 1. GeoForschungsZentrum, Potsdam, pp 16–50Google Scholar
  19. Buslov M.M., Klerkx, J., Abdrakhmatov K., Delvaux D., Batalev V.Yu., Kuchai O.A., Dehandschutter B., Muraliev A. (2003). Recent strike-slip deformation of the northern Tien Shan. In: Storti, F., Holdsworth, R.E., Salvini, F. (eds.) Intraplate strike-slip deformation belts. Geological Society of London, Special Publication, vol. 210, 53–64.Google Scholar
  20. Chen W-P, Molnar P (1977) Seismic moments of major earthquakes and the average rate of slip in Asia. J Geophys Res 82:2945–2969CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Crosby CJ, Arrowsmith JR, Korjenkov AM, Guralnik B, Mamyrov E, Povolotskaya IE. (2007). The hunt for surface rupture from the 1889 Ms 8.3 Chilik Earthquake, Northern Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan: Eos Trans. AGU, 88 (52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract T23D-1635.Google Scholar
  22. Delvaux D, Abdrakhmatov KE, Lemzin IN, Strom AL (2001) Landslides and surface breaks of the 1911 Ms 8.2 Kemin earthquake, Kyrgyzstan. Russian Geol Geophys 42:1167–1177Google Scholar
  23. Dzhahkuzanov K.(1964). Earthquakes in Kyrgyzstan and seismic regionalization of its territory (in Russian), Frunze.Google Scholar
  24. Engdahl ER,and A Villaseñor (2002) Global seismicity: 1900–1999. In: W.H.K. Lee, H. Kanamori, P.C. Jennings, C. Kisslinger (eds) International handbook of earthquake and engineering seismology, part A, chapter 41. Academic, New York, pp. 665–690Google Scholar
  25. Evans SG, Roberts NJ, Ischuk A, Delaney KB, Morozova GS, Tutubalina O (2009) Landslides triggered by the 1949 Khait Earthquake, Tajikistan, and associated loss of life. Eng Geol 109:195–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Galitzin PB (1915) Sur le tremblement de terre du 18 de février 1911. C R Acad Sci de Paris 160:810–813Google Scholar
  27. Geller RJ, Kanamori H (1977) Magnitude of great shallow earthquakes from 1904 to 1952. Bull Seism Soc Am 67:587–598Google Scholar
  28. Gubin IE (1960) Zakonomernosti Seismicheskikh Proyavlenii na Territorii adshikistana. Akademii nauk SSR, Moscow, pp 279–294, in RussianGoogle Scholar
  29. Gutenberg B (1945) Amplitudes of surface waves and magnitudes of shallow earthquakes. Bull Seism Soc Am 35:3–12Google Scholar
  30. Gutenberg B, Richter CF (1954) Seismicity of the earth and associated phenomena, 2nd edn. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 310 pagesGoogle Scholar
  31. Hough S (2012) Initial assessment of the intensity distribution of the 2011 M w 5.8 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake. Seism Res Lett 83:649–657. doi: 10.1785/0220110140 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Januzakov KJ, Omuraliev M, Omuralieva A, Ilyasov BI, Grebennikova VV (2003) Strong earthquakes of the Tien Shan (within the Kyrgyzstan territory and adjacent regions of the countries of Central Asia). Ilim, Bishkek, p 216. ISBN 5-8355-1335-6Google Scholar
  33. Jeffreys H (1923) The Pamir earthquake of 18 February 1911, in relation to the depths of earthquake foci. Mon Not Royal Astron Soc Geophys Supp 1:22–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kalmetieva ZA, Mikolaichuk AV, Moldobekov BD, Meleshko AV, Jantaev M.M. and Zubovich, A.V. (2009). Atlas of earthquakes in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences, Bishkek, ISBN 978–9967-25–829-7Google Scholar
  35. Kanamori H, Abe K (1979) Reevaluation of the turn of the century seismicity peak. J Geophys Res 84:6131–6139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Karnik V (1962) Amplitude-distance curves of surface waves at short epicentral distances. Stud Geophys Geod 6:340–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Klotz O (1916) Earthquake of February 18, 1911. Bull Seismol Soc Am 5:206–213Google Scholar
  38. Kondorskaya N.V. and N.V. Shebalin (eds) (1977) New catalog of large earthquakes in the USSR area. Nauka, Moscow, pp. 536 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  39. Kondorskaya, N. V. and N. V. Shebalin (1982). New Catalog of Strong Earthquakes in the U.S.S.R. from Ancient Times through 1977. World Data Center A for Solid Earth Geophysics, Boulder, 608pGoogle Scholar
  40. Korjenkov AM, Bobrovskii AV, Mamyrov EM (2010) Evidence for strong paleoearthquakes along the Talas–Fergana Fault Near the Kök-Bel Pass, Kyrgyzstan. Geotectonics 44(3):262–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Koulakov I (2011) High-frequency P and S velocity anomalies in the upper mantle beneath Asia from inversion of worldwide traveltime data. J Geophys Res 116, B04301. doi: 10.1029/2010JB007938 Google Scholar
  42. Leonov NN (1960) The Khait, 1949 earthquake and geological conditions of its occurrence. Izvestia of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Geophys Ser 3:409–424 (In Russian)Google Scholar
  43. Medvedev S, Sponheuer W, Kárník V (1964) Neue seismische Skala Intensity scale of earthquakes, 7. Tagung der Europäischen Seismologischen Kommission vom 24.9. bis 30.9.1962. In: Jena V (ed) Institut für Bodendynamik und Erdbebenforschung in Jena, vol 77, 77. Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu, Berlin, pp 69–76Google Scholar
  44. Mikhailova NN, Kurskeev AK (1995) Present status of the network for seismic observation in Kazakhstan. J Earthq Prediction Res 4(5):497–506Google Scholar
  45. Molnar P, Tapponnier P (1975) Cenozoic tectonics of Asia: effects of a continental collision, science. New Ser 189(4201):419–426Google Scholar
  46. Molnar P. and P. Tapponnier (1978). Active tectonics of Tibet. J Geophys Res 83(B11). doi: 10.1029/0JGREA000083000B11005361000001
  47. Mushketov IV. (1890) Vernenskoe zemletryaseniy 28 maya (9 iunya) 1887 g. (The Verny earthquake of May 28 (June 9), 1887), Trudy Geologicheskogo Komiteta, X (1), pp. 154 (in Russian).Google Scholar
  48. Mushketov IV and Orlov A.P. (1893). Catalogue of earthquakes of Russian Empire (Katalog zemletryaseniy Rossiyskoi Imperii). Notes of Russian Geographic Soc., 26, St. Peterburg, 582 pp. (in Russian)Google Scholar
  49. Nurmagambetov A. (1999). Siesmic history of Almaty (Seismicheskaia Istoriia Almaty), Lem Publisher, 66 pages, ISBN-13:9785766765905 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  50. Nurmagambetov, A., Mikhailova, N. and Iwan, W. (1999) Seismic hazard of the Central Asia region. In: King, S.A., Khalturin, V.I. & Tucker, B.E. (eds) Seismic hazard and building vulnerability in post-Sovietic Central Asian republics. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  51. Oldham RD (1923) The Pamir earthquake of 18th February 1911. Q J Geol Soc 79:237–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rautian TG (1960) Energy of earthquakes. In: Riznichenko YV (ed) Methods for the detailed study of seismicity. Izdatel'stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, Moscow, pp 75–114 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  53. United US Department of the inerior, Rautian T., W Leith (2002). Composite regional catalogs of earthquakes in the Former Soviet Union: open file report 02–500. BiblioGov, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  54. Rautian T, Khalturin VI, Fujita K, Mackey KG, Kendall AD (2007) Origins and methodology of the Russian energy K-class system and its relationship to magnitude scales. Seismol Res Lett 78:579–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. RautianT., and Khalturin V. I (1994). The multi-factor model of magnitude residuals and the problem of the precise determination of magnitude, Columbia University Scientific Report No. 4, 154 pagesGoogle Scholar
  56. Sanhueza-Pino K, Korup O, Hetzel R, Munack H, Weidinger JT, Dunning S, Ormukov C, Kubik PW (2011) Glacial advances constrained by 10Be exposure dating of bedrock landslides. Kyrgyz Tien Shan Quat Res 76:295–304Google Scholar
  57. Semenov PG, Semenov VA (1958) Catalog of earthquakes felt on the territory of Tajikistan for the period 1865–1940, and 1941–1952 years. Acad Sci Tadzh.SSR, StalinabadGoogle Scholar
  58. Shebalin NV. and G.Leydecker (1997). Earthquake catalogue for the Former Soviet Union and Borders up to 1988. 135 pp., 13 fig.; European Commission, Report No. EUR 17245 EN, Nuclear Science and Technology Series. ISSN 1018–5593—Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.Google Scholar
  59. Simpson DW, Hamburger MW (1981) Tectonics and seismicity of the Toktogul reservoir region, Kirgizia, USSR. J Geophys Res 86(1):345–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Strom AL, Abdrakhmatov KE (2004) Clustering of large rockslides: the phenomenon and its possible causes. In: Lacerda WA, Ehrlich M, Fontoura AB, Sayao A (eds) Landslides: evaluation and stabilization. Taylor and Francis Group, London, pp 317–320Google Scholar
  61. Tatevossian R (2004) History of earthquake studies in Russia. Anna Geophys 47:811–829Google Scholar
  62. Trifonov VG (1996) World map of active faults in Eurasia: principles, methods and results. J Earthq Prediction Res 5(326–347):1996Google Scholar
  63. Ulomov VI, The GSHAP Region 7 working group (1999) Seismic hazard of Northern Eurasia. Ann Geofis 42:1023–1038Google Scholar
  64. Zubovich AV, Wang X-Q, Scherba YG, Schelochkov GG, Reilinger R, Reigber C, Mosienko OI, Molnar P, Michajljow W, Makarov VI, Li J, Kuzikov SI, Herring TA, Hamburger MW, Hager BH, Dang Y, Bragin VD, Beisenbaev RT (2010) GPS velocity field for the Tien Shan and surrounding regions. Tectonics 29(TC6014):1–23. doi: 10.1029/2010TC002772 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Bindi
    • 1
  • S. Parolai
    • 1
  • A. Gómez-Capera
    • 2
  • M. Locati
    • 2
  • Z. Kalmetyeva
    • 3
  • N. Mikhailova
    • 4
  1. 1.Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, Center for Early WarningPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e VulcanologiaMilanoItaly
  3. 3.Central Asian Institute for Applied GeosciencesBishkekKyrgyzstan
  4. 4.Institute of Geophysical Researches of the National Nuclear Center of the Republic of KazakhstanAlmatyKazakhstan

Personalised recommendations