Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 175, Issue 12, pp 4183–4195 | Cite as

Ground Motion in Kuwait from Regional and Local Earthquakes: Potential Effects on Tall Buildings

  • Chen GuEmail author
  • Germán A. Prieto
  • Abdullah Al-Enezi
  • Farah Al-Jeri
  • Jamal Al-Qazweeni
  • Hasan Kamal
  • Sadi Kuleli
  • Aurélien Mordret
  • Oral Büyüköztürk
  • M. Nafi Toksöz


In recent years, the construction of tall buildings has been increasing in many countries, including Kuwait and other Gulf states. These tall buildings are especially sensitive to ground shaking due to long period seismic surface waves. Although Kuwait is relatively aseismic, it has been affected by large (Mw > 6) regional earthquakes in the Zagros Fold-Thrust Belt (ZFTB). Accurate ground motion prediction for large earthquakes is important to assess the seismic hazard to tall buildings. In this study, we first analyze the observed ground motions due to two earthquakes widely felt in Kuwait: the 08/18/2014 Mw 6.2 earthquake, 360 km NNE of Kuwait City, and the 11/12/2017 Mw 7.3 earthquake, 642 km NNE of Kuwait City. The peak spectral displacement periods of the ground motion from the 08/18/2014 Mw 6.2 earthquake matched well with the ambient vibration spectra of the tallest building—the Al-Hamra Tower. We calculate the ground motions from potential regional and local earthquakes. We use a velocity model obtained by matching the observed seismograms of the 2014 and 2017 earthquakes. We calculate ground motions in Kuwait due to a regional Mw = 7.5 earthquake, and a local Mw = 5.0 earthquakes. Our study shows that a significant source of seismic hazard to tall buildings in Kuwait comes from the regional tectonic earthquakes. However, local earthquakes have the potential to generate high peak ground accelerations (~ 98 cm/s2) close to their epicenters.



This project was sponsored by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences. The project was conducted as part of the Kuwait-MIT signature project on sustainability of Kuwait’s built environment under the direction of Oral Büyüköztürk.

Supplementary material

24_2018_1943_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1923 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chen Gu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Germán A. Prieto
    • 4
  • Abdullah Al-Enezi
    • 3
  • Farah Al-Jeri
    • 3
  • Jamal Al-Qazweeni
    • 3
  • Hasan Kamal
    • 3
  • Sadi Kuleli
    • 1
  • Aurélien Mordret
    • 1
  • Oral Büyüköztürk
    • 2
  • M. Nafi Toksöz
    • 1
  1. 1.Earth Resources Laboratory, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary SciencesMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory for Infrastructure Science and Sustainability, Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Kuwait Institute for Scientific ResearchKuwait CityKuwait
  4. 4.Departamento de Geociencias, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Nacional de ColombiaBogotáColombia

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