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Recent developments of the Middle East catalog


This article summarizes a recent study in the framework of the Global Earth model (GEM) and the Earthquake Model of the Middle East (EMME) project to establish the new catalog of seismicity for the Middle East, using all historical (pre-1900), early and modern instrumental events up to 2006. According to different seismicity, which depends on geophysical, geological, tectonic, and seismicity data, this region is subdivided to nine subregions, consisting of Alborz–Azerbaijan, Afghanistan–Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Caucasus, Central Iran, Kopeh–Dagh, Makran, Zagros, and Turkey (Eastern Anatolia; after 30° E). After omitting the duplicate events, aftershocks, and foreshocks by using the Gruenthal method, and uniform all magnitude to Mw scale, 28,244 main events remain for the new catalog of Middle East from 1250 B.C. through 2006. The magnitude of completeness (Mc) was determined as 4.9 for five out of nine subregions, where the least values of Mc were found to be 4.2. The threshold of Mc is around 5.5, 5.0, 4.5, and 4.0, for the time after 1950, 1963, 1975, and 2000, respectively. The average of teleseismic depths in all regions is less than 15 km. Totally, majority of depth for Kopeh–Dagh and Central Iran, Zagros, and Alborz–Azerbaijan, approximately, is 15, 13, and 11 km and for Afghanistan–Pakistan, Caucasus, Makran, Turkey (after 30° E), and Saudi Arabia is about 9 km.

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This article was a result of the Global Earth Model (GEM); and the Earthquake Model of the Middle East (EMME) project and was performed in IIEES as a partner of EMME project, as of (Work package-1-WP1) based on an internal research project of IIEES (No;IIEES/EMME:2010) conducted by the first (corresponding) author of this project. The support of the IIEES president (Prof Tasnimi) and Dr A. Ansari, are strongly appreciated. These thanks go to all partners of the project in the region.

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Correspondence to Mehdi Zare.

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The New Catalog of the Middle East (XLS 7606 kb)



Appendix 1 The main sources of data for the Middle East Earthquakes

International sources

Generally, the information and database of the international catalogs are available on their internet websites. Here, we are going to briefly introduce those international sources which we used in this project;

The mission of the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) is to determine rapidly the location and size of all destructive earthquakes worldwide. This center was established in 1966 by the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA). In 1940, the first Preliminary Determination of Epicenters (PDE) was published. In 1970, NEIC transferred to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and in 1973, transferred to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The International Seismological Center (ISC) was formed in Edinburgh in 1964, to continue the work of the International Seismological Summary (ISS), which was the first gathering of all observations of earthquakes worldwide.

The Engdahl et al. (1998; EHB) algorithm has been used to significantly improve routine hypocenter determinations made by the ISS, ISC and PDE.

Regional sources

Beside the international sources we used for collecting the earthquakes data, there are some local and regional catalogs which were given through the meetings for this project:

The Armenian catalogs are reporting only mb as the magnitude value. The chosen name for the source of these data in our final catalog in “Armenia.”

Regarding their report, they had used the data from the new catalog of strong earthquake in USSR (NCUSSR) for the events up to 1975. The other source of data is the Russian Space System Cooperation (RSSC) catalog.

The main mentioned sources for Georgia data are SMCG and EDIG which were kept intact in our final catalog.

Iran, with three different sources of data, improved the catalog within its area. The International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES), by enhancing the Iranian National Seismic Network (INSN), developed a catalog for the twenty-first century. The Iranian Seismological Center (IRSC), whose seismological network in Iran is the largest one, started to work in 1995 via the Geophysical Institute of Tehran University. The other organization who publish earthquake catalog for Iran is The Building and Housing Research of Iran (BHRC).

The National Center of Geophysical Research (NCGR) was established in 1975 by the National Council of Scientific Research (CNRS) in Lebanon. Nowadays, the seismic national network of this country with title of “Geophysical Research Arrays of Lebanon (GRAL)” is expanding.

The main source of all Turkey’s records is “ISK.”

More than 20 short period digital stations which account as the Syrian National Seismological Network (SNSN) were established in 1995.

Egyptian National Seismograph Network (ENSN) has started its work in 2003.

Kuwait National Seismic Network (KNSN) was established in 1996 and has started to monitor the seismicity of this small country.

In this project, just one of his books’ parametric historical catalogs; “The seismicity of Egypt, Arabia and the Red sea” had been transferred to an Excel file format. This catalog is referenced by the term “Amb” in our final historical catalog.

Appendix 2 Relationship between different magnitudes in this region

Relations were derived from earthquakes recorded in the Middle East region. Results of this relations present in equations from Eqs. (1) to (7) and Figs. 19, 20, and 21, total information collect in Table 9. These comparisons made us to believe in the correlation between different magnitudes in our catalog’s records and use it for further conversions instead of any other formula from other authors.

Conversion relation between mb and Mw

A relation was derived from those records that had both mb and Mw. Figure 19 shows this relation and its trend line in comparison to what was obtained by Scordilis in 2006 for the correlation of about 39,000 global records from NEIC and ISC (1965–2003).

This correlation was obtained as below;

$$ \begin{array}{l} Mw=0.8744 mb+0.8277;\kern0.5em 3.5\le mb\le 6.0\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em {R}^2=0.8803\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em n=16752\\ {}\end{array} $$

While the Scordilis relation is:

$$ Mw=0.85\left(\pm 0.04\right) mb+1.03\left(\pm 0.23\right);\kern0.5em 3.5\le mb\le 6.2\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em {R}^2=0.53\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em n=39784\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em \sigma =0.29 $$
Fig. 19

The correlation between mb and Mw. Left The earthquake catalog of this project for the Middle East (1900–2010). Right the earthquake catalog of NEIC and ISC for the World (1965–2003)

Conversion relation between Ms and Mw

For determining Mw from Ms, a relation was derived from those records that had both Ms and Mw. Figure 20 shows this relation and its trend line in comparison to what was obtained by Scordilis in 2006 for the correlation of about 26,000 global records from NEIC and ISC with depth of ≤70 km (1978–2003). This correlation shows a dual behavior with the turning point on about Ms = 6.1, therefore, we are facing with two formulas. (note: in our case, the depth of the events is not considered);

$$ Mw=0.6633 Ms+2.1117;\kern0.5em 2.8\le Ms\le 6.1\kern0.5em \&\kern0.5em {R}^2=0.9425\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em n=4123 $$
$$ Mw=0.9307 Ms+0.4491;\kern0.5em 6.1\le Ms\le 8.2\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em {R}^2=0.88\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em n=129 $$

While the Scordilis relations are:

$$ Mw=0.67\left(\pm 0.005\right) Ms+2.07\left(\pm 0.03\right);\kern0.5em 3.0\le Ms\le 6.1\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em {R}^2=0.77\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em \sigma =17\kern0.5em n=23921 $$
$$ Mw=0.99\left(\pm 0.02\right) Ms+0.08\left(\pm 0.13\right);\kern0.5em 6.2\le Ms\le 8.2\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em {R}^2=0.81\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em \sigma =2\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em n=2382 $$
Fig. 20

The correlation between Ms and Mw. Left The earthquake catalog of this project for the Middle East (1900–2009). Right the earthquake catalog of NEIC and ISC for the world (1978–2003)

Conversion relation between Ml and Mw

Many authors have studied the correlation between Ml and Mw but their ideas do not converge, partly due to the different effective magnification of Wood-Anderson Seismographs and distance corrections. As Scordilis (2006) says, it is not possible to define unique global relations connecting Ml to Mw or to other magnitude scales. Therefore, we could only trust the internal correlation which exists in about 2,000 records with both Mw and Ml. This correlation for 2,271 records and for the time period of 1975 to 2010 is shown in Fig. 21. The divergence or distribution of the points is minimum and the R 2 = 0.98 is also convincing to pick up this relation at this stage.

$$ Mw=1.0136 Ml-0.0502;\kern0.5em 4.0\le Ml\le 8.3\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em {R}^2=0.9805\kern0.5em \mathrm{and}\kern0.5em n=2271 $$
Fig. 21

The correlation between Ml and Mw in the earthquake catalog of this project for the Middle East

Table 9 Relationship between Ms, Ml, mb, and Mw in the Middle East region by comparing the recorded magnitude of the events

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Zare, M., Amini, H., Yazdi, P. et al. Recent developments of the Middle East catalog. J Seismol 18, 749–772 (2014).

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  • Seismicity
  • Catalog
  • Middle East
  • Depth
  • Historical
  • Instrumental
  • Magnitude