The number of tremors felt by the Northern Emirates of the UAE has increased because it is geographically close to areas under the seismically active belt, especially its proximity to Makran region (between Iran and Pakistan), according to top officials.
UAE's proximity to the seismically active Makran region increases the risk of a tsunami affecting its east coast, said officials who stressed that the Emirates is not located within the seismic belt itself.
Since the beginning of 2011, the department received 10 reports of earthquakes from Fujairah and its suburbs, a senior Civil Defence official told Emirates 24|7. In 2010 there were only five such incidents reported, he added.
Colonel Ali Al Tunaiji Director of Fujairah Civil Defence said, however, there has been no loss of lives.
Meanwhile, a top official at the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology, has stressed the fact that the UAE is not located in the seismically active belt.
Explaining the reasons for the recent spike in the numbers, senior earthquake engineer, Khamis Al Shamsi, said quakes that hit the south and east of Fujairah were due to the quarries operating in the neighbouring state that use high explosives.
Al Shamsi, however, called for the establishment of tsunami monitoring and early warning stations to detect if tsunami waves could reach the UAE's east coast due to its proximity to the seismically active Makran region.
"The UAE is geographically very close to areas under seismic belts - stretching north-west, parallel to the Zagros mountain range, as a result of the collision of the Arabian plate with the Eurasian plate.
The second is the "crack of Makran" in the Gulf of Oman, which is experiencing relatively strong quakes, felt by residents of Fujairah.
UAE tremor history
Al Shamsi said the biggest earthquakes that have hit the region is the one that rocked southern Pakistan last January measuring 7.4 on the Richter Scale; the Iranian quake on the island of Qesham in 2008 measuring 6.1 and the one that shook the Iranian city of Bam last December measuring 6.5.
Earlier in 1945, an 8 magnitude quake hit the Makran region off the Gulf of Oman, causing tsunami waves hitting coasts of Pakistan, Iran, as well as Oman.
Tsunami waves will erupt only when the quake is very strong and usually happens at distant intervals, he said.
Although tsunami cannot be predicted as earthquakes cannot be predicted either, Al Shamsi called for the setting up of a centre to monitor tsunami waves, to help reduce the damage.
The probability of tsunami, especially in the Makran region, cannot be taken lightly, he said because layers of Makran rift, located under the sea, has been sinking beneath other plates in the Gulf of Oman, he explained.
The new centre, launched by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, monitors earthquakes and constantly updates the seismographic station in the UAE, which in turn is linked to the Global Seismographic Network (GSN) that caters to the Gulf.
According to a geological study by the UAE University, over the last 30 years, the UAE has witnessed 40 earthquakes measuring an average 4.5 on the Richter Scale.
Another study conducted in March 2002 after an earthquake hit Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, showed that the current designs of the buildings can withstand tremors ranging between medium and light, and all future projects should incorporate earthquake proof designs.
Reports of fear
Colonel Ali Al Tunaiji Director of Fujairah Civil Defence said the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology notifies all departments of civil defence of any tremors, their epicenter, strength and effects.
All security agencies and civil defence personnel are trained adequately to handle natural disasters, he added.
Yusuf Obaid Al Nuaimi, member of the Federal National Council, said tremors in the UAE is a new phenomenon. It was not known before. It is important for all buildings to have an earthquake code, he added. And as such specification in designs will include the cost factor, the seismic monitoring stations must declare the need for such demarcation and make it mandatory, he added.
The UAE currently has eight earthquake monitoring stations that cover all the emirates.