Earthquakes occur in demarcated areas on the surface of the earth, called the seismic belts or seismic zones. They are places with special geological characteristics and are characterized by their weak crusts, low thicknesses, and abundance of fractures and faults. These earthquakes are caused by the relative movements of the tectonic plates that constitute the outermost solid shell of the earth. As the internal stresses accumulate in the rocks of the plates along their boundaries as the plates interact with each other, deformations results from bending, tension, pressure, and the frictional forces across the interfaces between the tectonic plates. This plate interaction contributes to the cumulative increases in the accumulated stresses that will eventually exceed the maximum capacity of the rocks to absorb and store stress energy, which consequently leads to a rupture and sudden movement of the rocks, when the capacity is exceeded. The stored energy is released in the form of seismic waves, which is called an earthquake. When this stored energy is released, then the rocks go back again to absorbing stress energies produced by the continuous interaction of the tectonic plates.
All countries are seeking now to establish seismic monitoring networks and to conduct studies and research that will reduce the risks of earthquakes. At the beginning of the 1980s, the GCC countries quickly set up seismic monitoring stations, with Saudi Arabia taking the lead, followed by Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, which adopted the same approach.
shows the locations of earthquakes and their magnitudes in the Kingdom and neighboring countries.
We found out that some earthquakes occur within Saudi Arabia, the Gulf of Aqaba, the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, Iran, the Gulf of Aden, and the Mediterranean region, with their magnitudes ranging from 0.78 to 6.22 on the Richter scale.
The old and recent seismicities in Saudi Arabia and neighboring areas.
The considerable attention given to seismic and volcanic activity studies, the identification of their levels of activities, and the creation of an accurate data and information base contribute to carrying out research studies to reduce the risks associated with these geohazards. The reduction of damages from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions is one of the focal strategies used by many of the countries exposed to seismic hazards. Thus, the project to establish the National Seismic Network within the SGS aims towards this focal strategy by creating good coverage to monitor all local and regional seismic activities, develop its network of seismic monitoring stations, and establish a strong base for the conduct of research studies by acquiring the necessary precision equipment and building a seismic database for researchers.