The 24th January 2016 Hawassa earthquake: implications for seismic hazard in the Main Ethiopian Rift

Matthew Wilks, Atalay Ayele, J-Michael Kendall, James Wookey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

8 Citations (Scopus)
320 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Earthquakes of low to intermediate magnitudes are a commonly observed feature of continental rifting and particularly in regions of Quaternary to Recent volcanism such as in the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER). Although the seismic hazard is estimated to be less in the Hawassa region of the MER than further north and south, a significant earthquake occurred on the 24th January 2016 in the Hawassa caldera basin and close to the Corbetti volcanic complex. The event was felt up to 100 km away and caused structural damage and public anxiety in the city of Hawassa itself. In this paper we first refine the earthquake's location using data from global network and Ethiopian network stations. The resulting location is at 7.0404°N, 38.3478°E and at 4.55 km depth, which suggests that the event occurred on structures associated with the caldera collapse of the Hawassa caldera in the early Pleistocene and not through volcano-tectonic processes at Corbetti. We calculate local and moment magnitudes, which are magnitude scales more appropriate at regional hypocentral distances than (mb) at four stations. This is done using a local scale (attenuation term) previously determined for the MER and spectral analysis for ML and MW respectively and gives magnitude estimates of 4.68 and 4.29. The event indicates predominantly normal slip on a N-S striking fault structure, which suggests that slip continues to occur on Wonji faults that have exploited weaknesses inherited from the preceding caldera collapse. These results and two previous earthquakes in the Hawassa caldera of M > 5 highlight that earthquakes continue to pose a risk to structures within the caldera basin. With this in mind, it is suggested that enhanced monitoring and public outreach should be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-125
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Volume125
Early online date10 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Main Ethiopian Rift
  • Seismic hazard
  • Ethiopia
  • Seismicity and tectonics
  • Continental tectonics
  • Earthquake magnitudes

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