3.8 earthquake in North ‘less than moderate’

Tremor felt across northern Israel – throughout the Kinneret area, Tiberias, Kiryat Shmona and Metula; no injuries.

December 5, 2011 14:31
2 minute read.
Richter Scale [file photo]

Richter Scale, earthquake quake hand graph 311 (R). (photo credit: Pichi Chuang / Reuters)


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Israel’s latest earthquake, felt at 10:55 p.m. on Sunday night, was called “less than moderate” and drew no call for concern from geologists at its 3.8 Richter scale magnitude.

With its epicenter in the area of the Hula Valley, the earthquake was felt across northern Israel – throughout the Kinneret area, Tiberias, Kiryat Shmona and Metula – but police reported no known damage or injuries.

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4.2 magnitude earthquake shakes Israel, no injuries

“Looking all over the world, it's a very small earthquake. It's not even moderate – it's less than moderate,” Dr. Uri Frieslander, general manager of the Geophysical Institute of Israel, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday morning.

Although the earthquake was small, northern residents felt the tremors because the focus point of the quake was relatively shallow, according to Frieslander.

“And because it was at 11 p.m. most of the people were in bed, where you can feel it easily,” he added.

“It was a very weak earthquake on the northern part of the Dead Sea rift where there’s an active zone, and our seismometers all over the country feel very weak earthquakes all the time, even earthquakes that humans do not feel, like around magnitude 2,” Frieslander said.

Just 40 minutes before, a magnitude 4.7 quake was felt in Eastern Turkey, according to the United States Geological Survey, an American government organization that tracks earthquakes as they happen all around the world. This quake, however, was entirely unrelated to the Israeli tremor, as the two areas fall on different fault lines, according to Frieslander.

“There is no relation between the Northern Anatolian Fault and the Dead Sea area,” he explained, noting that the Dead Sea rift lies from southern Turkey down to the Red Sea.

The last humanly detectable earthquake to hit Israel occurred on August 7, mainly along the country’s northern coastal plain, sending 4.2 magnitude shakes but causing no injuries to Haifa, Afula, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Kibbutz Nativ, with an epicenter around 40 kilometers west of Binyamina in the Mediterranean Sea. A previous quake also occurred during April, but was not even significant enough to register on the Richter scale. This frequency indicates no change from normal activity, according to Frieslander.

As far as when Israelis can expect a truly sizable quake to shake their land, Frieslander said that such an event is impossible to forecast, but that on average, it happens around every 100 years.

“Statistically, every 100 years there is a strong earthquake and the last one was in 1927,” he said. “So statistically, we are expecting an earthquake, but it could take 10 years or 10 minutes or 50 years.”

While Frieslander said he couldn’t predict whether Israeli infrastructure would be able to handle such a quake, he stressed: “The way to minimize the risk is to build very good buildings and to follow the instructions of the authorities.”

Yaakov Lappin and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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