Rare series of strong earthquakes off Morocco


Within the last 5 days, a rare series of strong earthquakes larger than 5.0 in magnitude has hit off the coast of Morocco.

The latest earthquake, a M5.6 tremor, was measured on March 15, 2016 at 4:40am UTC.

Today, March 15, 2016, a rare M5.6 earthquake hit the western part of the Mediterranean Sea off Al Hoceima, on the northern coast of Morocco.

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The epicenter of the quake was located 63 kilometers north of the Moroccan town of Al Hoceima at a depth of 10 kilometers.

According to the global disaster alert and coordination system, this earthquake can only have a low humanitarian impact based on the Magnitude, the affected population and their vulnerability.

This quake is the latest in a series of strong tremor that hit at the exact same place in the last five days:

M5.6 – 63km NNE of Al Hoceima, Morocco
M5.2 – 51km NE of Al Hoceima, Morocco
M5.2 – 47km N of Boudinar, Morocco
M5.3 – 62km NNE of Al Hoceima, Morocco
M4.9 – 58km N of Boudinar, Morocco

As documented by the USGS: Large earthquakes throughout the Mediterranean region have also been known to produce significant and damaging tsunamis. One of the more prominent historical earthquakes within the region is the Lisbon earthquake of November 1, 1755, whose magnitude has been estimated from non-instrumental data to be about 8.0. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake is thought to have occurred within or near the Azores-Gibraltar transform fault, which defines the boundary between the African and Eurasian plates off the west coast of Morocco and Portugal. The earthquake is notable for both a large death toll of approximately 60,000 people and for generating a tsunami that swept up the Portuguese coast inundating coastal villages and Lisbon. An earthquake of approximately M8.0 near Sicily in 1693 generated a large tsunami wave that destroyed numerous towns along Sicily’s east coast. The M7.2 December 28, 1908 Messina earthquake is the deadliest documented European earthquake. The combination of severe ground shaking and a local tsunami caused an estimated 60,000 to 120,000 fatalities.

End of January 2016, a swarm of strong quakes also hit the region producing damages in southern Spain. Are these signs of the next big one in the region?

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