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4.3 earthquake hits Dead Sea, felt in Amman, Karak and Madaba

By Laila Azzeh - Jul 31,2015 - Last updated at Jul 31,2015

AMMAN — A 4.3 magnitude earthquake hit the centre of the Dead Sea at a depth of 10 kilometres at around 5:39am on Thursday, according to the Jordan Seismological Observatory.

No casualties or physical damage were reported, but residents of Amman, Karak, Zarqa and Madaba felt the earthquake and shared their experience on social media. 

“The activity of the earthquake was low, but its timing at an hour that most people are asleep and streets are quiet made them feel it more,” Tawfiq Al Yazjeen, the director of the observatory, told The Jordan Times on Thursday. 

With the Dead Sea area, located on the Palestine-Sinai subplate, deemed seismically active, the expert noted that the frequent “moderate magnitude earthquakes release the accumulated energy.”

Jordan lies along the seismically active Dead Sea Transform Fault, with estimates predicting a major earthquake every 100 years.

Seismic activity is normal in the Jordan Rift Valley area, which extends from northern Jordan down to the Dead Sea and is part of the Great Rift Valley that stretches from the Taurus Mountains of Turkey down to the Zambezi Valley in southern Africa.

Yazjeen noted that earthquake observatories around the world do not predict the timing of quakes, but conduct extensive examinations on their activities and frequency.

“This helps countries impose sound building codes and be prepared when earthquakes hit,” he said, describing Jordan’s preparedness as “good”, citing the earthquake that took place in 2004. 

“It was located directly under the Dead Sea hotels, but no injuries or losses were recorded,” said the director.

Earlier this month, an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale was registered in the port city of Aqaba, 330km south of the capital, at around 5:15am but no damages or casualties were recorded. 

On June 27, an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale was registered in the port city, centred at a depth of 10 kilometres 57 kilometres south of Aqaba.

In January, 2008, an earthquake registering 4.5 on the Richter scale was felt in Mafraq and parts of Zarqa. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

In late 2007, seismologists recorded an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 in the Jordan Valley, while a 4.6 earthquake shook Amman and mountainous areas overlooking the northern Jordan Valley in 2004.

According to Jordan Seismological Observatory records, the last destructive earthquake to hit the Kingdom was in 1927.

About 300 people were killed in that quake, which hit Jerusalem and nearby Jericho.

A similar quake in 1837, measuring 7 on the Richter scale and with an epicentre in the Hula Valley, today in northern Israel, devastated the town of Safad and killed some 4,000 people. 

 

In recent remarks, Jordan Geologists Association President Sakher Ensour noted that the latest quakes are the natural result of tectonic plate movement, dismissing claims that they may have been the result of nuclear explosions or other manmade circumstances. 

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