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Updates on the Saudi Arabian earthquakes

The mysterious Saudi Arabian earthquake swarm continues. Eruptions readers in Saudi Arabia have provided some on-the-ground updates, but the source of the seismicity is still unclear. Check back for the latest updates!

Al-Baidha volcanoAl-Qider volcano in Saudi Arabia. Image courtesy of Ahmed Al-Hussaini.

I’ve been searching for more information on the Saudi Arabian earthquake swarm reported last week. A number of Eruptions readers have also added some on-the-ground info as well.

UPDATE 12:30PM Pacific: Here is a brief update via Reuters India. They mention that five villages are being evacuated as a precaution. Beyond that, not much new information and it does feature this line that makes me shudder: “The region lies on a fault line, according to SGS, which declined to comment on current magma levels, but newspapers reported that in the past few days magma levels had risen to 4 km (2.5 miles) below the surface from 8 km.” Magma levels? Magma is not like the water table. Ack! Again, I’m not sure how the SGS knows definitively that magma is rising.

I’ll divide what we know into three groups:

The facts:

  • Earthquakes are happening in western Saudi Arabia, some as strong has M4.5.
  • Earthquake depths are believed to be in the upper 10 km of the crust.
  • The earthquakes are occurring in a region of known Quaternary volcanism – and also near a divergent plate boundary.
  • The earthquakes are causing a stir with people living near the epicenters with up to 40% of the residents of Al-Eis leaving their homes. There has been some damage to homes near the epicenter.

  • Lava flows in the area around Al-Qider Volcano, Saudi Arabia. Image courtesy of Ahmed Al-Hussaini.

    The conjectures

    • The earthquakes are related to magma moving according the Saudi officials.
    • The earthquakes are purely tectonic-related according to “experts”
    • Rumors(Not to say these aren’t true, but I have yet to find corroboration – thanks to the commenters who left this information)

      • Earthquakes are being felt as far away as the coastal city of Yanbu, Madinah (250 km distant) and Tabuk (400 km to the north).
      • Groaning noises, peculiar odors and wells drying up near the epicenters(?)
      • Fisherman has noticed a change in sea level(?)
      • increasing number of earthquakes in the area
      • And that is what we know. Nothing conclusive about the source of these earthquakes and not a lot of news out there in the MSM. If you find anything, feel free to post it here and we can all keep on eye on the events in western Saudi Arabia.

        Al-Qider Al-Baidha Mountain in Saudi Arabia. Image courtesy of Ahmed Al-Hussaini.

        The earthquake swarm underneath Harrat Lunayyir in Saudi Arabia appears to be subsiding and officials say people may be able to return to their homes by the end of the week. What might be happening under the Saudi Arabian volcanic field?

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