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Natural Hazards

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 1855–1871 | Cite as

The earthquake swarm of December 2007 in the Mila region of northeastern Algeria

  • F. Semmane
  • I. Abacha
  • A. K. Yelles-Chaouche
  • A. Haned
  • H. Beldjoudi
  • A. Amrani
Original Paper

Abstract

In December 2007, the Mila region of northeastern Algeria experienced thousands of microearthquakes (0.8 ≤ Md ≤ 3.9) recorded by eight temporary stations, in addition to permanent stations. Most of the events were too small to be located precisely, but a set of 122 precisely located events shows an alignment of epicenters, extending mainly in a horizontal band at about 1–2 km depth in a NNW–SSE direction and concentrated in a small area, 3 km southeast of Jebel Akhal, a small rocky hill between the Beni Haroun dam/reservoir and the Oued Athmania reservoir. The reservoirs are connected by pipelines, and a pumping station ensures water can be transferred between them at transient pressures of up to 80 bars. During the pumping in 2007, only 45 % of the transferred water (~600,000 m3 per day) was recovered at the Oued Athmania reservoir, and a large amount of the slightly pressurized water leaked through defective joints in a tunnel that passes through the Jebel. This water penetrated deeply into the soil with the assistance of preexisting fractures, faults, and karsts. Nine days after the first pumping started, a local increase in pore fluid pressures at shallow depths triggered seismicity southeast of Jebel Akhal, where the faults were probably close to failure. The focal mechanisms show a near vertical N–S strike-slip fault plane under regional NW–SE tectonic compression. One of the fault plane solutions is consistent with the NNW–SSE direction along which the seismic events are aligned. Furthermore, a long-term comparison of the seismic activity in the region versus water levels behind the dam and the pumping of water shows that the earthquake swarm was a one-off event related to the pumping operation.

Keywords

Triggered seismicity Earthquake swarm Water transfer Beni Haroun dam Mila, northeastern Algeria Pore fluid pressures 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was realized with the collaboration of the Algerian Ministry of Water Resources. We thank the ANBT (National Agency of Dams and Transfers) for the technical documents provided. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Beni Haroun dam and Oued Athmania reservoir engineers. We also thank all those people who participated in the installation and maintenance of the portable station. Thanks, also, to our colleagues, in particular Azzeddine Boudiaf, for discussions and suggestions that improved the manuscript. Our special thanks to the Editor-In-Chief, Professor Thomas Glade, for his help and comments in improving the contents of this paper. We would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Semmane
    • 1
  • I. Abacha
    • 1
  • A. K. Yelles-Chaouche
    • 1
  • A. Haned
    • 1
  • H. Beldjoudi
    • 1
  • A. Amrani
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de Recherche en Astronomie, Astrophysique et Géophysique, CRAAGAlgiersAlgeria

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