Weather of Arabia - Earthquakes are among the most terrifying natural phenomena that have an impact on human life, as these earthquakes represent a major challenge to the geographical areas exposed to them. Throughout its history, Jordan has witnessed many earthquakes that left deep imprints on its history and national memory.
In this article, we take a look at the most famous earthquakes that struck Jordan over time, and we will discuss their effects and the response of the authorities and the local community to such natural disasters. But first, let us learn about Jordan's geographical location and its relationship to the occurrence of earthquakes there.
Jordan, with its geographical location in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea and near the borders with the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, is considered an earthquake-prone area as a result of its presence in a collision zone of continental plates. This makes it vulnerable to devastating earthquakes, and it is also worth noting that geographically Jordan is located within the Dead Sea fault (collapse crater), which is a transformative continental fault that forms a long series of geomorphological depressions (landform depressions) with an estimated length of about 1,000 to 1,100 kilometers , extending from the Anatolian Plateau. Southeast in the north to the northern Red Sea in the south. Earthquakes in Jordan and the Dead Sea Fault are usually closely linked and are one of the main factors that contribute to earthquakes in this region.
A devastating earthquake affected large areas extending from the Galilee region in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba in the south, and its epicenter was the Dead Sea Rift. This earthquake caused massive destruction, causing the destruction of most of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, in addition to inflicting great losses on a number of other cities, including the cities of Jerash and Umm Qais in northern Jordan, and several Palestinian cities.
The Jordan Valley region witnessed a devastating earthquake, which completely destroyed the cities of Tiberias, Beisan, Jericho, and Pella (Tabaqat Fahel), along with other cities such as Jerash and Amman.
This disaster was linked to the Dead Sea Rift, which in turn generated a series of earthquakes in the past two thousand years, causing massive destruction along its path. This disaster wiped out large cities in historic Palestine, such as Nablus, Jericho, and Hebron, in addition to the cities of Tiberias, Ashkelon, and Acre. The Old City of Jerusalem saw its walls and churches damaged, while a mosque in Gaza was destroyed. Significant damage also affected Hisham's Palace, the prominent Islamic site in the city of Jericho. The destruction did not stop at these borders, but damage was recorded in various regions of Syria and Egypt.
Based on historical records, the devastation occurred in a similar pattern to a previous earthquake in Galilee in 749, which killed tens of thousands of lives.
An earthquake struck the city of Safed in Palestine, and its magnitude was estimated at between 6.5 and 7.3 on the Richter scale. The Jordanians felt this earthquake strongly. It was an extremely powerful earthquake, resulting in the death of an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people. This earthquake caused the complete destruction of the walls of the city of Tiberias and a large number of its neighborhoods. It took a long time for things to get back to normal again.
This earthquake is considered one of the strongest earthquakes that struck the Jordan and Palestine region, according to information available from witnesses who lived in that period. Some information about it has been written down based on the testimonies of people who lived through that horrific experience and passed on its details from one generation to another. The epicenter of this earthquake was east of the city of Safed, and caused damage to many cities including Galilee, Beit She'an, and Nablus, where entire neighborhoods were destroyed and others were severely damaged.
Until late decades of the last century, the elderly in Transjordan and Palestine told the stories of this great earthquake in all its details, and it had a great impact on the history of the region. As one of the most prominent earthquakes witnessed in the history of earthquakes in Jordan is the Jericho earthquake, which occurred near the Damia Bridge in the Jordan Valley and near the city of Jericho, and was about 25 kilometers east of the city of Nablus, which is considered one of the cities most severely affected by this earthquake, followed by the city of Nablus. Salt in eastern Jordan, and the effects of this earthquake were clear even to the residents of Cairo, Syria and Lebanon, to the point that they believed that the epicenter of the earthquake was in the Aegean Sea in Anatolia.
The intensity of the earthquake was about 6.3 on the Richter scale , and it lasted for approximately 90 seconds. Although it was a moderate-intensity earthquake, it caused many casualties and losses.
In the series of events in the history of earthquakes in Jordan, the earthquake that struck the Gulf of Aqaba comes in third place. This earthquake had a relative intensity of 7.3 on the Richter scale , and was considered a relatively strong earthquake.
Witnesses who witnessed the accident reported that a small tsunami formed in the area as a result of the earthquake. The epicenter of the earthquake was near the Egyptian city of Nuweiba in the waters of the Red Sea, south of the city of Aqaba. This earthquake caused damage in the city of Aqaba and neighboring areas, and Eilat was also affected, as damage was recorded in about 50 buildings, and the earthquake caused a death toll in several Arab countries.
The Aqaba earthquake is characterized by the fact that it occurred at a depth of about 18 kilometers in the Gulf of Aqaba, and lasted for about a minute. It was felt by the residents of Syria and Lebanon at a distance of more than 600 kilometers from the epicenter. This earthquake was followed by many aftershocks, some of which exceeded the intensity of five degrees on the Richter scale.
Among the areas that were damaged to a relatively large extent is the Egyptian city of Nuweiba, which witnessed the complete destruction of a large number of modern homes, and the appearance of a large crack on the coastal road to the north. The infrastructure in the city of Aqaba was also visibly damaged, especially in the main streets and sidewalks that were exposed to cracks, in addition to the damage caused to old buildings.
The Dead Sea earthquakes in 2004 were among a series of earthquakes that occurred in the Dead Sea Rift, and consisted of five successive tremors. The intensity of one of these tremors was recorded at 5.2 degrees on the Richter scale , and the total strength of this series reached about 8.3 degrees . These earthquakes did not result in obvious material or human damage, affecting only the residents of Jordan and the Levant region. This series is considered to be the last earthquakes recorded in the Dead Sea region.
In 2015, the Gulf of Aqaba region witnessed an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale , which occurred specifically at 6:34 a.m. Jordan time. The epicenter of this tremor was about 57 kilometers south of the city of Aqaba, and its depth was measured at about 10 kilometers below the surface of the earth. Fortunately, no loss of life or property was reported in the areas of Aqaba and its northern regions as a result of this earthquake.
These were some of the most famous earthquakes that struck Jordan throughout history, and their occurrence reminds us of the importance of strengthening preparedness and developing earthquake-resistant infrastructure in such seismically active areas, and that educating residents on how to act and respond in the event of an earthquake also plays a crucial role in maintaining their safety and security.
It is worth noting that Jordan has taken important measures to enhance preparedness and response to earthquakes, including developing building laws and regulations to ensure that buildings adhere to seismic standards. Training and awareness campaigns were also organized for residents on how to react in the event of an earthquake.
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