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  • 6/9/2011






The Iranian plateau, characterized by active faulting, active folding, recent volcanic activities, and considerable elevation contrasts along the Alpine-Himalayan mountain belt, has been frequently struck by catastrophic earthquakes during recorded history. These earthquakes have resulted in great loss of life and, by rendering large numbers of people homeless and disrupting the agricultural and industrial bases of their lives, have wasted natural resources.



Large, destructive earthquakes are very infrequent. The dormant period between large-magnitude earthquakes on a particular fault or fault segment in Persia ranges from many centuries to millennia (Berberian, 1981, pp. 44-45; Ambraseys and Melville, 1982, pp. 158-62; Berberian et al., 1992, pp. 1728-31).

The great length of the earthquake cycle for most active faults in Persia results in a paucity of historical (pre-1900) and instrumental (20th century) data from which to assess earthquake hazards or derive an understanding of the mechanism of faulting.

 Unlike instrumental and historical seismic records, the archaeological and geological records of earthquake activity extend many earthquake cycles into the past. Archaeological sites and historical monuments may yield direct or indirect evidence of earthquake activity. They may contain episodes of rebuilding or repairs following earthquakes.

Several archaeological sites and monuments have provided earthquake information on Persia: Sagzabad about the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C.E. (Negahban, 1973, pp. 11-13; Berberian et al., 1993, pp. 100-102), Ak-Tapa of 4,000 B.C.E. (Golinsky, 1982, p. 519), Gowdin-Tapa of 4,000-3,350 B.C.E. (Young, 1968, p. 160),Marlik of 3,000-2,000 B.C.E. (Negahban, 1990, p. 146; Berberian et al., 1992, pp. 1728-31), Parthian Nesa of 10 B.C.E.-10 C.E. (Golinsky, 1982, p. 519), Kangavar Anahita Temple of the 17th century B.C.E. and 224-642 C.E. (Kambar-Fard, 1974, p. 47), Bishapur city of 293-302 and 531-79 C.E., late 10th century (Sarfaraz, 1987, pp. 45, 56, 71, and personal communication, January 1994; Berberian, 1994, p. 221), Nishapur of 1145 and 1270 (Wilkinson, 1975, pp. xxxv, xxxvi), and Masjed-e-Jame of Qaen of 1066 (Naderi, 1980, pp. 103-07 ). The decline of civilization in the following cities seems to have been partly, if not largely, due to large-magnitude earthquakes, some of which were associated with long surface faulting: Sagzabad, Marlik, Kumes (after the 856 earthquake), Zarang/Sistan (around 734, 805, and 815 C.E.), Siraf (978 and 1008 C.E.; Taheri), Nishapur (1145, 1209, 1251, 1270, 1389, and 1405), and Jizd (1336). (For more information, see Berberian, 1994, pp. 53-161.)

Other Links:

Caspian Seal (part 1)

Caspian Seal (part 2)

Caspian Seal (part 3)

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