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Emirates Journal for Engineering Research, 9 (2), 53-58 (2004)

(Regular Paper)


Building and Energy Technologies Department
Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research

‫ ﺤﻴﺙ ﺘﻡ ﺘﺠﻤﻴﻊ ﺍﻟﺒﻴﺎﻨﺎﺕ ﺍﻟﺘﺎﺭﻴﺨﻴﺔ ﻭﺍﻟﻤﺴﺠﻠﺔ ﺁﻟﻴﹰﺎ‬،‫ﺘﺘﻨﺎﻭل ﻭﺭﻗﺔ ﺍﻟﺒﺤﺙ ﺘﻘﻴﻴﻤﹰﺎ ﻟﻤﺨﺎﻁﺭ ﺍﻟﺯﻻﺯل ﺒﺩﻭﻟﺔ ﺍﻟﻜﻭﻴﺕ‬
‫ﺍﻟﻤﺭﺘﺒﻁﺔ ﺒﻅﺎﻫﺭﺓ ﺍﻟﺯﻻﺯل ﺒﻤﻨﻁﻘﺔ ﺍﻟﻜﻭﻴﺕ ﻭﺍﻟﻤﻨﺎﻁﻕ ﺍﻟﻤﺠﺎﻭﺭﺓ ﻟﻬﺎ ﻹﻨﺸﺎﺀ ﺃﺴﺎﺱ ﻟﺩﻟﻴل ﺍﻟﺯﻻﺯل ﻴﻐﻁﻲ ﺍﻟﻔﺘﺭﺓ ﻤﻥ‬
‫ ﻟﺘﻭﺯﻴﻊ ﻗﻭﺓ‬Exponential ‫ ﻭﻗﺩ ﺘﻡ ﻋﻤل ﺘﻭﺼﻴﻑ ﻟﻠﻤﻨﺎﻁﻕ ﺍﻟﺯﻟﺯﺍﻟﻴﺔ ﺒﺎﻓﺘﺭﺍﺽ ﻨﻤﻭﺫﺝ‬،‫ﻡ‬2000 ‫ ﺇﻟﻰ ﻋﺎﻡ‬860 ‫ﻋﺎﻡ‬
‫ ﻭﻗﺩ ﻗﺎﻤﺕ ﻋﻤﻠﻴﺔ ﺘﺤﻠﻴل ﻤﺨﺎﻁﺭ ﺍﻟﺯﻻﺯل ﻋﻠﻰ‬.‫ ﻟﺘﻜﺭﺍﺭ ﺤﺩﻭﺙ ﺍﻟﺯﻻﺯل ﻤﻊ ﺍﻟﺯﻤﻥ‬Poisson ‫ ﻭﻨﻤﻭﺫﺝ‬،‫ﺍﻟﺯﻻﺯل‬
.‫ ﺍﻻﺤﺘﻤﺎﻟﻴﺔ‬Cornell ‫ﻁﺭﻴﻘﺔ ﻜﻭﺭﻨﻴل‬

This paper presents the seismic hazard assessment for the State of Kuwait. In the present study,
historical and instrumental seismicity data in the Kuwait area and its vicinity are compiled to
form the base earthquake catalogue covering the period from 860 to 2000. Seismic zones
characterization was performed assuming an exponential model for magnitude distribution and a
Poisson time occurrence model. Probabilistic seismic hazard analysis employed herein is based
on Cornell’s methodology.


The presented work is part of an ongoing research The Arabian plate is defined by five tectonic features,
project for assessing the seismic risk of residential with the Zagros and Taurus mountain in the northeast
buildings in Kuwait whose closeness to Zagros belt defining the continental collision between the Arabian,
warrants the assessment. The State of Kuwait is Persian and Turkish plates, Figure 1. In the east, the
located in the northeastern part of the Arabian Arabian plate subducts beneath the Makran region of
Peninsula at the northwestern end of the Arabian Gulf. Pakistan and Iran, and southeast is the Owen Fracture
Kuwait is located to the southwest of the Zagros belt, zone. In the south and southwest are the spreading
which is capable of producing strong earthquakes of centers on the sea floor along the axis troughs in the
magnitudes 7.5. Local seismicity in Kuwait is Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Kuwait is located off
characterized by several local earthquakes of the coast of the northwest tip of the Arabian Gulf.
magnitudes up to 5 mainly in the southern part of the
The prime concern of the present paper is to assess
the seismic hazard in the State of Kuwait. Seismic A primary component of any probabilistic seismic
hazard assessment in areas of low to moderate seismic hazard is the earthquake catalogue associated with the
activity such as Kuwait poses a challenge to engineers analysis. The present catalogue is the result of
due to the scarcity and incompleteness of searching the World Seismicity Database, WSD, of the
seismological data required as input to seismic hazard British Geological Survey, BGS, for the Kuwait area
analysis. consisting of a ten-degree square (24.00 to 34.00
As for attenuation relationships, no specific latitude, 43.00 to 53.00 longitude) centered on Kuwait
relations have been developed for the region and due City (latitude 29.33, longitude 48.00).
to the absence of instrumented data of peak ground The catalogue consists of 1939 earthquake events
accelerations, expert judgement was exercised as for including historical and instrumental events covering
the selection of a conservative attenuation formula. the period from 860 to 2000 and with magnitudes
None of the previous studies of regional seismic ranging between 2 and 8. The seismicity map for the
hazard assessment in the Gulf area has considered the Kuwait area as defined by the present catalogue is
local seismicity in the State of Kuwait as defined by shown in Figure 2.a. For the purpose of recurrence-
the local events recorded by the Kuwait National rate analysis, events are classified into historic events
Seismic Network, KNSN, over the past seven years. prior to 1900 and the remaining events are
Local events are accounted for in the present study. instrumental events.
Probabilistic seismic hazard analysis employed
herein is based on Cornell’s methodology. Seismic
hazard computation was performed using CRISIS99

A. W. Sadek

Figure 1. Tectonic boundaries of the Arabian Peninsula

Figure 2a. Regional seismicity of the Kuwait area.

54 Emirates Journal for Engineering Research, Vol.9, No.2, 2004

Seismic Map for The State of Kuwait

Figure 2b. Symbol key for the regional seismicity map

LOCAL EVENTS Spatial criterion: L ≤ 10(0.5 Mm-1.8)

Temporal criterion: t ≤ 10(0.17+0.85(Mm-4))/1.3 – 0.3
Seismic monitoring in the State of Kuwait began in
Magnitude criterion: Ma < Mm-1.0
March 1997. The Kuwait National Seismograph
Network (KNSN) consists of seven three-component
short period and one broad band seismometers (shown
L = epicentral distance from the main shock
in Figure 3). The seismic data is transmitted via two-
Mm= magnitude of a main shock
way full duplex error-correcting digital telemetry to
Ma = magnitude of an after-shock
the recording center at the Kuwait Institute for
t = time in days from occurrence of a main shock
Scientific Research (KISR) in Kuwait City.
All seismic data recorded by the seismometers is
digitized using 24-bit digitizers, with a sampling rate SEISMIC SOURCE ZONATION
of 100 samples/s [1]. The network can detect local,
regional and teleseismic earthquake events. Local A seismic source zone is defined as a seismically
events are defined as the earthquake events recorded homogeneous area, in which every point within the
within the boundaries of the State of Kuwait. The source zone is assumed to have the same probability of
spatial distribution of the local events is depicted in being the epicenter of a future earthquake. It is not
Figure 4. The largest event is of magnitude 4.3, always possible to compile detailed information of the
December 1997, and located in the southern part of several fields required for the ideal delineation of
Kuwait and such area has been relatively active as source zones. As an alternative, a careful consideration
compared to other areas of the State of Kuwait. of the main tectonic structures and their correlation
with the current seismicity can be the basis for the
DATA PRE-PROCESSING delineation of the source zones.
Four sources were delineated in the present study
Any complete earthquake catalogue is generally non- and their details are given in Figures 5 and 6. The first
Poissonian, i.e. earthquakes are not entirely time source accounts for the Zagros belt and is of Poisson
independent events since a cluster of after-shocks type for which a complete recurrence rate analysis was
whose occurrence is dependent of the main shock performed to define its parameters. The other three
usually follows any major earthquake. Probabilistic sources account for the local events and are of the
seismic hazard analysis assumes that seismicity characteristic type, that is the time span of monitoring
follows a Poisson process and hence it is essential to and number of events are very limited and do not
remove any non-Poissonian behaviour from the warrant a meaningful statistical analysis and are
earthquake catalogue by eliminating the dependent mainly characterized by a maximum credible
events. A variety of approaches can be used for that earthquake. Upon the request of the client, local
matter. In the present study the spatial and temporal sources were excluded in the seismic hazard analysis.
windows or filters proposed by Maeda [2] are
employed to eliminate the accessory events from the
original data as follows.

Emirates Journal for Engineering Research, Vol.9, No.2, 2004 55

A. W. Sadek

Figure 3. Location of the seismic stations of KNSN

: 3 ≤ M < 4. : 2.0 ≤ M < 3 :M<2

Figure 4. Local seismicity of the state of Kuwait (1997-2002)

56 Emirates Journal for Engineering Research, Vol.9, No.2, 2004

Seismic Map for The State of Kuwait

Figure 5. Foreign earthquakes source

Figure 6. Local seismicity sources

the slope of the magnitude-frequency of occurrence

Earthquake Recurrence Rate relation; the activity rate λ, which is the annual
For source 1, the following parameters defining number of earthquakes above the lower bound
occurrence of earthquakes in the source zone are magnitude; and the average hypo-central depth. The
evaluated: Mo, threshold magnitude below which no following values were assigned to these parameters.
engineering significant damage expected; the upper Mo = 4.00
bound magnitude Mmax representing the maximum Mmax = 7.5
expected magnitude; the Gutenberg-Richter B = 0.87
earthquake recurrence parameter b-value, representing λ =11.50

Emirates Journal for Engineering Research, Vol.9, No.2, 2004 57

A. W. Sadek









Figure 7. Seismic hazard map of the State of Kuwait

ATTENUATION RELATIONSHIPS defined by earthquake events recorded within the State

of Kuwait. The resulting product of the study is a
Strictly speaking, attenuation laws are site dependent seismic hazard map of the State of Kuwait showing
and need to be determined for each location. Such expected peak ground accelerations with 10%
information is not readily available for the Arabian probability of exceedance over 100 year return period.
Gulf region. For the purpose of the present study the It is clearly demonstrated that local seismicity is
attenuation relationship developed by Sadigh et al. [4] important and should be included in future studies of
was used. However, a dedicated study on the influence hazard assessment.
of attenuation laws on the resulting seismicity in the It is recommended to perform fault tree analysis
Arabian Gulf area is highly needed. including all uncertainties involved in seismic hazard
assessment to better judge the influence of a given
SEISMIC HAZARD COMPUTATIONS parameter on the ground motion estimate and
The probabilistic seismic hazard computations were prediction.
performed using CRISIS99 software [5] whose
calculations are based on the well-known Cornell REFERENCES
approach [6] to compute seismic hazard in extended 1. F. Bou-Rabee, “Seismotectonics and Earthquake
regions. Basic input data are geometry of the sources, Activity of Kuwait”, Journal of Seismology, Vol. 4, 133-
seismicity of the sources and the attenuation relations. 141, 2000.
Using a recursive triangularization algorithm, spatial 2. K. Maeda, “The Use of Foreshocks in Probabilistic
integration of hazard equations are performed Prediction along the Japan and Kuril Trenches”, Bulletin
optimizing number of calculations, so CRISIS99 will Seismological Society of America, Vol. 86 (1A), 242-
integrate with more points for the nearest sources and 254, 1996.
less points for distant sources. Hazard estimations are 3. B. Gutenberg, C. Richter, “Seismicity of the Earth and
Associated Phenomena”, Pricenton University Press, 2nd
made for points in a grid not necessarily rectangular.
Edition, 1954.
Data validation options are available and parameters 4. K. Sadigh, C.-Y. Chang, J.A. Egan, F. Makdisi and R.R.
can be given in a user-friendly graphic environment. Youngs, “Attenuation Relationships for Shallow Crustal
The resulting seismic hazard map of the State of Earthquakes Based on California Strong Motion Data”,
Kuwait is shown in Figure 7. The map shows expected Seismological Research Letters, Vol. 68 (1), 1997.
peak ground accelerations for a 10% probability of 5. M. Ordaz, A. Aguilar and J. Arboleda, “CRISIS99: A
exceedance over a 100 year return period. It should be Computer Code to Evaluate Seismic Hazard”,
noted the great influence that local seismicity has on Engineering Institute, National Autonomous University
the seismic hazard in Kuwait. of Mexico, Mexico, 1999.
6. C. A. Cornell, “Engineering Seismic Risk Analysis”,
Bulletin Seismological Society of America,Vol. 58,
CONCLUSION 1583-1606, 1968.
The present study performed probabilistic seismic
hazard analysis in the State of Kuwait. The analysis
considered regional seismicity accounting for the
Zagros belt and more important the local seismicity

58 Emirates Journal for Engineering Research, Vol.9, No.2, 2004