Global Geological And Climatic Events

Deadly Earthquake strikes Morocco


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Earthquake

Mains level: NA

morocco earthquake

Central Idea

  • A devastating earthquake struck Morocco, resulting in significant casualties and damage.

Details of the Moroccan Earthquake

  • Shallow Epicenter: The quake’s epicentre was near the town of Ighil, approximately 70 km southwest of Marrakech. It was considered fairly shallow, with varying depth estimates.
  • Higher Energy: Shallow earthquakes are typically more dangerous as they carry more energy, making them more destructive compared to deeper quakes.

Major Causes

  • Tectonic Convergence: The earthquake resulted from the northward convergence of the African plate with the Eurasian plate along a complex plate boundary.
  • Faulting: The USGS attributed the quake to oblique-reverse faulting at a shallow depth within the Moroccan High Atlas Mountain range.
  • Fault Classification: Oblique-slip faults exhibit characteristics of both dip-slip and strike-slip faults, occurring in areas of compression where tectonic plates converge.

Why discuss this?

  • Low Seismicity: Earthquakes are uncommon in North Africa, with low seismicity rates along the northern margin of the continent.
  • Historic Strength: This earthquake was the strongest ever recorded in the mountainous region, catching Morocco unprepared for such an event.
  • Construction Vulnerabilities: Many Moroccan buildings, especially in rural areas and older cities, are not constructed to withstand strong tremors.

What is an Earthquake?

  • An earthquake is an intense shaking of the ground caused by movement under the earth’s surface.
  • It happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another.
  • This releases stored-up ‘elastic strain’ energy in the form of seismic waves, which spreads through the earth and cause the shaking of the ground.

morocco earthquake

What exactly causes Earthquakes?

  • As we know, the earth’s outermost surface, crust, is fragmented into tectonic plates.
  • The edges of the plates are called plate boundaries, which are made up of faults.
  • The tectonic plates constantly move at a slow pace, sliding past one another and bumping into each other.
  • As the edges of the plates are quite rough, they get stuck with one another while the rest of the plate keeps moving.
  • Earthquake occurs when the plate has moved far enough and the edges unstick on one of the faults.
  • The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts are called the hypocenter, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the epicentre.

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