Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Earthquake mapping in the Middle East

Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli seismologists have formed a cross-border partnership to research earthquake activity in the Middle East.

Tel Aviv University seismologist Hillel Wust-Bloch created the earthquake mapping research partnership to explore seismic activity around the ancient city of Jericho -- one of the world's most vulnerable areas for quakes and a region important to Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis.

The four-year project will mark the first time that Earth scientists from those three regions have worked together directly, Wust-Bloch said. In the past, partnerships have usually occurred through a third party, such as the United Nations.

The project, which includes scientists from Al-Balqa University in Jordan, and An Najah University in Nablus, will be led by Tel Aviv University and involves deploying six nano-scale "seismic microscopes" in the Jericho region, in order to map a 39-square-mile (100-square-kilometer) area.

"From a scientific point of view, this project is innovative because we are monitoring the seismic activity of a region which is well-known, but we are doing it at much lower thresholds," said Wust-Bloch.

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