MUSCAT: Scientists studying seismic hazard assessment for the sultanate, say that the northernmost city of Khasab may be more vulnerable to earthquakes in terms of Peak Ground acceleration (PGA).

PGA is based on calculations on how hard the earth shakes in a given geographic area.

This is because of the proximity of Khasab to Zagros and Makran seismic zones near the Strait of Hormuz. Earthquakes at a distance of 90km from Khasab contribute most to the hazard of this city.

These findings were discussed at the second workshop on seismic hazard assessment for Oman that was organised by the Earthquake Monitoring Centre at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) on Sunday. Dr Eissa el Hussain, director of the Earthquake Monitoring Centre at SQU, presented the results of the ‘Probabilistic and Deterministic Seismic Hazard Assessment of the Sultanate of Oman’.

The workshop marks the completion of the seismic hazard assessment study for Oman. It was presided over by Dr Ali bin Saud al Bemani, vice chancellor of SQU. Speaking on the occasion, Professor Amer bin Ali al Rawas, SQU deputy vice chancellor for postgraduate studies and research, said that the study on seismic hazard assessment for the Oman comes from SQU’s efforts to build capacity in this area.

“The government is aware of the importance of the earthquake risk assessment. Hence, the Council of Ministers has assigned the task of preparing a study of the risk of earthquakes in the sultanate to the Earthquake Monitoring Centre at SQU in cooperation with the relevant authorities in the sultanate. The project began at the end of 2009, where a committee was formed to oversee the project, headed by SQU with members from the Muscat Municipality, Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources and the Supreme Council for Planning,” Professor Rawas said.

He added, “We have to start thinking about conducting detailed studies of earthquake risks of northern areas, especially the areas with high population density and major economic significance. Therefore, a permanent committee, Committee for Monitoring Earthquakes has been formed to establish construction and development perceptions in terms of seismic risks.

Dr Ahmed Deif from SQU also presented a paper on ‘Mitigation of Seismic risk by Microzonation in Muscat area’. Microzonation maps provide city planners with better understanding of spatial variation of seismic hazard to develop various hazard mitigation strategies for cities.

Other papers presented at the workshop included Development of Shake Maps for Muscat by Professor Eser Cakti, Dr Ufuk Hacilar’s ‘Development of Risks Maps for Muscat’ and Professor Dral Safak’s ‘Development of Oman Seismic Design Code for Buildings’.