Earthquakes in Saudi Arabia – rumbles and rumours 19 May 2009Posted by admin in activity reports.
Tags: Saudi Arabia, volcanic activity reports
There have been various reports over the past couple of weeks of earthquakes in western Saudi Arabia, possibly with some volcanic component. Some of the news reports are listed below. Significant earthquakes are clearly taking place: there are reports of structural damage, people fleeing their homes, and confusing references to ‘magma moving’.
Dr Erik Klemetti at Eruptions is doing a superb job of putting together all the information he can (including reports, via his comments columns, from people who are on the spot) and trying to make sense of it. Check out his posts: An eruption brewing in Saudi Arabia? and the more recent Updates on the Saudi Arabian earthquakes.
UPDATE 20 May 2009: Dr Erik Klemetti’s latest post on the Saudi Arabian earthquakes is here. This morning (this post is published at 07:38 UTC) the USGS is listing six earthquakes in the area occurring between 19:50 UTC on 17 May and 20:35 UTC on 19 May: the largest is a magnitude 5.7 event at 17:35 UTC on 19 May. There are reports of large-scale evacuations and of aftershocks and ‘a large crack in the earth’, and unconfirmed accounts of gas emissions, ‘smoke’, and changes in well water – all very suggestive, but there is a lack of hard evidence. Dr Klemetti notes:
So, we don’t really know much else about what is going on that we didn’t know a few days ago. Earthquake appear to be continuing. Rumors of smoke, pungent odors, changes in well water. Evacuations. These items, taken at face value, would suggest an eruption is imminent, however, right now, all I can do is say that things are definitely getting interesting in Saudi Arabia right now.
More news links have been added to the list below, which I will keep updating as new information comes in. Knowing no Arabic, however, I’m limited to English-language sources.
Google Earth users can find the earthquake locations using KML files available from the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program site. The Saudi earthquakes are listed on this USGS page: clicking on the date for a particular event will take you to a range of tabs giving further information. The ‘maps’ tab includes a link labelled ‘Google Earth KML’ which will open Google Earth and take you to the location for that earthquake. Over at Eruptions Dr Klemetti has published a Google Earth map of the earthquakes so far, and has interesting observations on the Harrat Lunayyir lava field where they are located.
P.S. An American blogger in Saudi Arabia samples local opinion on the earthquakes here. Another Saudi-focused blog covering the earthquakes is here (most recent post here). And CNN notices something is happening here.
UPDATE 21 May 2009. A report in Arab News says that a total of 2,289 people have been evacuated from villages in Al-Ais:
The evacuations took place as 30 tremors of varying magnitudes — measuring between 3 and 5.4 on the Richter scale — were registered at Harrah Al-Shaqah in the Al-Ais area during the 24 hours ending 2 p.m. yesterday, the Saudi Geological Survey reported. … The Civil Defense has warned people living within a radius of 40 km of Harrah Al-Shaqah, the quake’s epicenter, to keep away. The warning was issued following the discovery of dangerous gases and unusually hot air and water in wells as the frequency of tremors increased in Al-Ais. A Civil Defense source said the discoveries suggested a volcanic eruption was likely.
The USGS and Centre Sismologique Euro-Méditerranéen report no new quakes since the magnitude 4.6 event at 20:35 UTC on 19 May, but smaller quakes since then will not have been reported on these sites.
1,200 mild tremors felt in Medina – Khaleej Times Online, 4 May 2009
Tremors continue to shake Al-Eis region – Saudi Gazette, 14 May 2009
Evacuation begins as tremors continue – Saudi Gazette, 15 May 2009
Rumblings from Al-Ais volcanoes send villagers into a state of panic – Arab News, 15 May 2009
More tremors jolt Al-Ais – Arab News, 16 May 2009
Saudi Arabia evacuates 5 villages in volcano scare – Reuters India, 19 May 2009
40% of Al-Eis residents flee from earth tremors – Saudi Gazette, 19 May 2009
Residents told to leave Al-Eis amid stronger tremors – Saudi Gazette, 20 May 2009
Aftershocks rock Al-Ais – Arab News, 20 May 2009
Evacuation called as another quake hits Saudi – Business Maktoob, 20 May 2009
Two tremors hit Saudi volcano region, no injuries – Reuters India, 21 May 2009
Earthquake hits Saudi villages – Times of India, 20 May 2009
Saudi prepares fresh evacuation from volcano zone – Reuters AlertNet, 20 May 2009
Earthquake hits Saudi villages – PR-inside.com, 20 May 2009
Saudi earthquake zone evacuated after spate of strong tremors – Dow Jones Newswires, 20 May 2009
Volcanic tremors recorded in Saudi Arabia – Radio New Zealand, 21 May 2009
Villagers flee Saudi quake zone after spate of tremors – Inside the Gulf, 21 May 2009
Saudi volcanic eruption ‘imminent’ – Business Maktoob, 21 May 2009
Saudi Geological Survey explains Al-Ais tremors – BERNAMA, 21 May 2009
Madinah governor tours quake-prone Al-Ais – Arab News, 22 May 2009
Global Volcanism Program: Arabia – information from the GVP about the volcanoes of Arabia
Volcanic Arabia – a detailed and well illustrated article from Saudi Aramco World, 2006, on Arabian volcanism