‘Makran quakes may not effect tsunami but sultanate at risk’

March 24, 2019

Even though 11 earthquakes have hit Makran region in Pakistan this year, which is classified as a subduction zone in which two tectonic plates overlap, this does not mean Oman is prone to tsunami. However, given the history of the eastern part of Makran which already caused an earthquake in 1945, Oman could be at risk.

The 1945 tsunami led to the death of 300 people in Pakistan and Oman. If there is another tsunami, it could be as powerful as the ones that hit Sumatra (Indonesia) in 2004 and Fukushima (Japan) in 2011, experts say.

“A total of 11 earthquakes have hit the Makran zone so far this year from January to March. These are both offshore and inshore quakes with light to moderate magnitude. These are too small to trigger tsunami,” an official at National Multi Hazard and Early Warning Centre at Public Authority for Civil Aviation, said.

According to probabilistic and deterministic estimates of near-field tsunami hazards in northeast Oman report by Earthquake Monitoring Centre, Sultan Qaboos University, tsunamis generated along the Makran subduction zone (MSZ) threaten the Sur coast of Oman.

Dr Issa el Hussain, director of the SQU’s Earthquake Monitoring Centre, told Muscat Daily that the eastern part of Makran already caused an earthquake in 1945, resulting in a tsunami. But earthquakes which have occurred recently on the fault line have nothing to do with the probability of tsunami.

“There is a history of Makran causing an earthquake in 1945 which resulted in a tsunami leading to deaths in Oman and the probabilistic data show it could hit again but we don’t know when,” he said. “The recent earthquakes cannot be linked to tsunami because they are small. To trigger tsunami, the earthquake should be more than 6.5 magnitude. What we experienced in this region is that the earthquakes’ mode of motion is horizontal. The worst they can do is landslide.”

The eastern side of Makran is already known to produce earthquakes.

Recent reports said a validated shallow water numerical code simulates the source-to-coast propagation and quantifies the coastal hazard in terms of maximum water level, flow depth, and inundation distance.

Researches provide essential information for coastal planning, engineering and management in terms of tsunami hazard and an essential step toward tsunami risk reductions in the northwest Indian Ocean.