Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists design the first map of active faults in the Gibraltar Arc to prevent earthquakes

Africa and Europe get about 4 mm closer every year in a northeast convergence direction. The exact position and geometry of the boundary between the African and Eurasian plates is unknown, but it is located near the Gibraltar Arc — an area of intense seismic activity which was not studied deeply until now.

A group of researchers from the Andalusian Institute for Earth Sciences (CSIC) and the Department of Geodynamics of the University of Granada described for the first time the physical and mechanical properties of the uppermost part of the Earth’s crust — to a depth of 30 km which is where the highest magnitude earthquakes occur. This study has made it possible to establish the exact position of the active faults of the Gibraltar Arc area which cause earthquakes, thus obtaining valuable geological information which could help determine the areas in which earthquakes are most likely to occur.

The author of this study is Fermín Fernández Ibáñez, whose doctoral thesis Sismicidad, reología y estructura térmica de la corteza del Arco de Gibraltar (Seismicity, reology and thermal structure of the Gibraltar Arc crust) was directed by researchers Juan Ignacio Soto Hermoso and José Molares Soto. This study, which was carried out within the CSIC project entitled The Gibraltar Arc System: Active Geodynamic Processes in the South-Iberian Margins (SAGAS), made the most comprehensive radiography so far in the faults of the Alboran Sea, the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean Sea.

The researchers characterised a region of intense deformation in which the relative movement of blocks is caused by left-lateral strike-slip faults known as “the Transalboran fault system,” which expands from Murcia (Spain) to Alhucemas (Morocco). The other significant fault of the Gibraltar Arc area, which crosses the Transalboran fault perpendicularly, is called Nerja-Yusuf and goes from Málaga (Spain) to the Algerian coast.

Study of oil wells

Fernández and Soto assure that the south of the Iberian Peninsula and the north of Africa are very similar in geology. In order to characterise the way the Gibraltal Arc is being deformed due to pushing plates, the researchers studied oil wells, analysing the disfigurations caused by these forces.

This doctoral thesis could help to prevent natural disasters like the one that occurred in Indonesia in 2004, when a tsunami killed more than 300,000 people and flooded entire cities. In any case, researcher Fernández stated that although the Gibraltar Arc is an area of intense seismic activity and the movements of the faults could produce tsunamis, it is almost impossible that such a phenomenon would occur.

In addition, the study conducted at UGR related for the first time the temperature of the Earth’s crust to its seismic activity, thus determining that the probability of earthquakes is significantly lower in areas of higher temperature. Therefore, the western area of Sierra Nevada and Alhucemas (which are located within the Gibraltar Arc) is the area in which most earthquakes occur due to low temperatures in the Earth’s crust, while the area of Almería (Spain) and the eastern area of the Alboran Sea will probably experience fewer seismic movements.

Results from this interesting study were published in renowned scientific journals like the Journal of Geophysical Research or Tectonics. The research group in which researchers Fernández and Soto participate is a member of Topo-Iberia, an important project which aims at creating an unprecedented temporal seismic broadband net in Spain, composed by a minimum of 80 seismic stations 50-60 km apart and which will have simultaneous and homogenous coverage in different regions. Furthermore, Topo-Iberia will create the biggest Spanish GPS net ever created.

Antonio Marín Ruiz | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
26.10.2016 | University of California - Irvine

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>