Natural Hazards

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 1855–1871

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


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.


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


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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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