Natural Hazards

, Volume 85, Issue 3, pp 1529–1555 | Cite as

On the problem of destructive Iranian earthquakes and their causative faults

  • Mohammad Jalali
  • Hamidreza Ramazi
Original Paper


This article is devoted to evaluating destructive earthquakes (magnitude >6) of Iran and determining properties of their source parameters. First of all, a database of documented earthquakes has been prepared via reliable references and causative faults of each event have been determined. Then, geometric parameters of each fault have been presented completely. Critical parameters such as Maximum Credible Rupture, MCR, and Maximum Credible Earthquake, MCE, have been compiled based on the geometrical parameters of the earthquake faults. The calculated parameters have been compared to the maximum earthquake and the surface rupture which have been recorded for the earthquake faults. Also, the distance between the epicenter of documented earthquake events and their causative faults has been calculated (the distance was less than 20 km for 90% of the data). Then, the distance between destructive earthquakes (with the magnitude more than 6) and the nearest active fault has been calculated. If the estimated distance is less than 20 km and the mechanism of the active fault and the event are reported the same, the active fault will be introduced as a probable causative fault of that earthquake. In the process, all of the available geological, tectonic, seismotectonic maps, aerial geophysical data as well as remote sensing images have been evaluated. Based on the quality and importance of earthquake data, the events have been classified into three categories: (1) the earthquakes which have their causative faults documented, (2) the events with magnitude higher than 7, and (3) the events with the magnitude between 6 and 7. For each category, related maps and tables have been compiled and presented. Some important faults and events have been also described throughout the paper. As mentioned in this paper, these faults are likely to be in high seismic regions with potential for large-magnitude events as they are long, deep and bound sectors of the margins characterized by different deformation and coupling rates on the plate interface.


Documented earthquake faults Maximum credible earthquake Maximum probable earthquake Maximum fault rapture Historical earthquake catalogue Instrumental earthquake catalogue 



The authors would like to appreciate the editorial board of Natural Hazard Journal and three anonymous reviewers for their scientific suggestions which significantly raised the quality of the paper. Also, the authors thank Mr. Ivan Saltmarsh for reviewing the English proficiency of this paper and his comments which significantly raised the English quality of this article.


  1. Akasheh B, Eshghi I (1979) The Iran earthquake of December 19, 1977 Bab-tangal, North western Kerman. J Earth Sp Phys 8(1):65–71Google Scholar
  2. Ambraseys NN, Melville CP (1982) A history of Persian earthquakes. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  3. Authemayou C, Chardon D, Bellier O, Malekzadeh Z, Shabanian E, Abbassi MR (2006) Late Cenozoic partitioning of oblique plate convergence in the Zagros fold and thrust belt (Iran). Tectonics 25(3). doi: 10.1029/2005TC001860
  4. Azadi A (2010) Integrated geophysical methods for determining geometry of the Kahrizak Fault, Tehran, Iran. Natl Hazards. doi: 10.1007/s11069-010-9506-9 Google Scholar
  5. Bachmanov D et al (2004) Active faults in the Zagros and central Iran. Tectonophysics 380:221–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baker C, Jackson J, Priestley K (1993) Earthquakes on the Kazerun Line in the Zagros Mountains of Iran: strike-slip faulting within a fold-and-thrust belt. Geophys J Int 115:41–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berberian M (1976) An explanatory note on the first seismotectonic map of Iran; a seismo-tectonic review of the country. Geol Surv Iran 39:7–142Google Scholar
  8. Berberian M (1979) Earthquake faulting and bedding thrust associated with the Tabas-e-Golshan (Iran) earthquake of September 16, 1978. Bull Seismol Soc Am 69:1861–1887Google Scholar
  9. Berberian M (1981) Active faulting and tectonics of Iran, in Zagros, Hindu Kush, Himalaya. Geodyn Evol Geodyn Ser Am Geophys Un 3:33–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Berberian M (1994) Natural hazard and the first earthquake catalogue of Iran, historical hazards in Iran prior to 1900. Int Inst Earthq Eng Seismol 1:603Google Scholar
  11. Berberian M (1995) Master blind thrust faults hidden under the Zagros folds: active basement tectonics and surface morphotectonics. Tectonophysics 241:193–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Berberian M, Yeats RS (1999) Patterns of Historical Earthquake Rupture in the Iranian Plateau. Bull Seismol Soc Am 89:120–139Google Scholar
  13. Berberian M, Yeats R (2001) Contribution of archaeological data to studies of earthquake history in the Iranian Plateau. J Struct Geol 23(2001):563–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Berberian M, Asudeh I, Arshadi S (1979) Surface rupture and mechanism of the Bob-Tangol (southeastern Iran) earthquake of 19 December, 1977. Earth Planet Sci Lett 42:456–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Berberian M, Qorashi M, Arzhangravesh B, Mohajer-Ashjai A (1983) Recent tectonics, Seismotectonics, and earthquake-fault hazard study of the greater Qazvin area. Geol Surv Iran 57:84pGoogle Scholar
  16. Berberian M, Qorashi M, Jackson J, Priestley K, Wallace T (1992) The Rudbar-Tarom earthquake of 20 June 1990 in NW Persia: preliminary field and seismological observations, and its tectonic significance. Bull Seismol Soc Am 82:1726–1755Google Scholar
  17. Berberian M, Jackson J, Qorashi M, Khatib M, Priestley K, Talebian M, Ghafuri-Ashtiani M (1999) The 1997 May 10 Zirkuh (Qa’enat) earthquake (Mw 7.2): faulting along the Sistan suture zone of eastern Iran. Geophys J Int 136:671–694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Berberian M, Jackson J, Qorashi M, Talebian M, Khatib M, Priestley K (2000) The 1994 Sefidabeh earthquakes in eastern Iran: blind thrusting and bedding-plane slip on a growing anticline, and active tectonics of the Sistan suture zone. Geophys J Int 142:283–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Berberian M et al (2001) The 1998 March 14 Fandoqa Earthquake (Mw 6.6) in Kerman province, southeast Iran: re-rupture of the 1981 Sirch earthquake fault, triggering of slip on adjacent thrusts and the active tectonics of the Gowk fault zone. Geophys J Int 146:371–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. DeMets C, Gordon RG, Argus DF, Stein S (1990) Current plate motion. Geophys J Int 101:425–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Engdahl ER, Jackson JA, Myers SC, Bergman EA, Priestley K (2006) Relocation and assessment of seismicity in the Iran region. Geophys J Int. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2006.03127.x Google Scholar
  22. Falcon NL (1961) Major earth-flexuring in the Zagros mountains of south-west Iran. Quart J Geol Soc Lond 117:367–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hatzfeld D, Tatar M, Priestley K, Ghafory-Ashtiany M (2003) Seismological constraints on the crustal structure beneath the Zagros mountain belt (Iran). Geophys J Int 155:403–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hessami K, Jamali F (2006) Explanatory notes to the map of major active faults of Iran. JSEE 8(1):1–11Google Scholar
  25. Hessami K, Alyasin S, Jamali F (1997) An investigation of some historical earthquakes and paleoseismic sources in Iran. In: Historical and prehistorical earthquakes in the Caucasus Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands pp 189–199Google Scholar
  26. Hessami K, Pantosti D, Tabassi H, Shabanian E, Abbassi MR, Feghhi K, Solaymani S (2003) Paleoearthquakes and slip rates of the north Tabriz fault, NW Iran: preliminary results. Ann Geophys 46(5):903–915Google Scholar
  27. Hessami K, Tabassi H, Abbassi MR, Azuma T, Okumura K, Echigo T, Kondo H (2004) Surface expression of the Bam fault zone in southeastern Iran: Causative fault of the 26 December 2003 Bam earthquake. J Seismol Earthq Eng Special Issue on Bam Earthquake:5–14Google Scholar
  28. Hessami K, Tabassi H, Okumura K, Abbassi MR, Azuma T (2005) Surface deformation and the fault responsible for the December 26, 2003 earthquake at Bam, Iran. Earthq Spectra 21(3):113–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jackson J, Fitch TJ (1981) Basement faulting and the focal depths of the larger earthquakes in the Zagros mountains. Geophys J R Astron Soc 64:561–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jackson JA, McKenzie DP (1984) Active tectonics of the Alpine-Himalayan belt between Turkey and Pakistan. Geophys J Int 77(1):185–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Maggi A, Jackson JA, McKenzie D, Priestley K (2000) Earthquake focal depths, effective elastic thickness, and the strength of the continental lithosphere. Geology; June 2000; 28(6):495–498; 5 figuresGoogle Scholar
  32. McEvilly T, Niazi M (1975) Post-earthquake observations at Dasht-e Bayāz, Iran. Tectonophysics 26:267–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Meyer B, Le Dortz K (2007) Strike‐slip kinematics in central and eastern Iran: estimating fault slip‐rates averaged over the Holocene. Tectonics 26(5). doi: 10.1029/2006TC002073
  34. Meyer B, Mouthereau F, Lacombe O, Agard P (2006) Evidence for Quaternary activity along the Deshir fault: implication for the tertiary tectonics of central Iran. Geophys J Int 164:192–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ni J, Barazangi M (1986) Seismotectonics of the Zagros continental collision zone and a comparison with the Himalayas. J Geophys Res 91:8205–8218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Parsons B et al (2006) The 1994 Sefidabeh (eastern Iran) earthquakes revisited: new evidence from satellite radar interferometry and carbonate dating about the growth of an active fold above a blind thrust fault. Geophys J Int 164:202–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ramazi HR (2004) Attenuation Laws of Iranian earthquakes. Journal of Amirkabir University of Technology 12(60-3):101–108, Winter 2004–2005, Tehran, IranGoogle Scholar
  38. Ramazi HR, Schenk V (1994) Preliminary results obtained by a processing of Iranian accelerograms. In: XX IV General Assembly of European Seismologist Commission, Sept. 14–19 Athens, Greece, pp 1662–1670Google Scholar
  39. Ramazi H, Haghani R (2006) The 22 June 2002 Avaj, Iran, earthquake: a field report. Seismol Res Lett 77:723–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ramazi H, Hosseinnejad M (2009) The Silakhor (Iran) earthquake of 31 March 2006, from an engineering and seismological point of view. Seismol Res Lett 80:224–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ramazi HR, Soltani H (2005) The Bam (Iran) earthquake of December 26, 2003: from an engineering and seismological point of view. J Asian Earth Sci 27(5):576–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Regard V et al (2005) Cumulative right-lateral fault slip rate across the Zagros–Makran transfer zone: role of the Minab–Zendan fault system in accommodating Arabia–Eurasia convergence in southeast Iran. Geophys J Int 162:177–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Scholz CH (ed) (2007) The mechanics of earthquakes and faulting. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  44. Talebian M, Jackson J (2004) A reappraisal of earthquake focal mechanisms and active shortening in the Zagros mountains of Iran. Geophys J Int 156:506–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tatar M (2007) The 2004 May 28 Baladeh earthquake (Mw 6.2) in the Alborz, Iran: overthrusting the South Caspian Basin margin, partitioning of oblique convergence and the seismic hazard of Tehran. Geophys J. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03386.x Google Scholar
  46. Tatar M, Hatzfeld D (2009) Microseismic evidence of slip partitioning for the Rudbar-Tarom earthquake (Ms 7.7) of 1990 June 20 in NW Iran. Geophys J Int 176:529–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tatar M, Hatzfeld D, Ghafory-Ashtiany M (2004) Tectonics of the Central Zagros (Iran) deduced from microearthquake seismicity. Geophys J Int 156:255–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tchalenko JS (1975) Seismicity and structure of the Kopet Dagh (Iran, USSR). Philos Trans R Soc 278:1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tchalenko J, Ambraseys NN (1970) Structural analysis of the Dasht-e Bayaz (Iran) earthquake fractures. Geol Soc Am Bull 81:41–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tchalenko JS, Berberian M, Behzadi H (1973) Geomorphic and seismic evidence for recent activity of the Doruneh fault (Iran). Tectonophysics 19:333–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Walker R, Jackson J (2002) Offset and evolution of the Gowk fault, SE Iran: a major intra-continental strike slip system. J Struct Geol 24:1677–1698CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Walker R, Jackson J (2004) Active tectonics and late cenozoic strain distribution in central and eastern Iran. Tectonics 23:5010. doi: 10.1029/2003TC001529 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Walker R, Khatib M (2006) Active faulting in the Birjand region of NE Iran. Tectonics 25(4). doi: 10.1029/2005TC001871
  54. Walker R, Jackson J, Baker C (2003) Surface expression of thrust faulting in eastern Iran: source parameters and surface deformation of the 1978 Tabas and 1968 Ferdows earthquake sequences. Geophys J Int 152:749–765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Walker R, Jackson J, Baker C (2004) Active faulting and seismicity of the Dasht-e-Bayaz region, eastern Iran. Geophys J Int 157:265–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Walker R, Bergman E, Jackson J, Ghorashi M, Talebian M (2005) The 2002 June 22 Changureh (Avaj) earthquake in Qazvin province, northwest Iran: epicentral relocation, source parameters, surface deformation and geomorphology. Geophys J Int 160:707–720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wells DL, Coppersmith KJ (1994) New empirical relationships among magnitude, rupture length, rupture width, rupture area, and surface displacement. Bull Seismol Soc Am 84:974–1002Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic)TehranIran

Personalised recommendations