Strong Mw6.3 Afghanistan Earthquake Report (7th of October 2023)

Mw6.3 Afghanistan Earthquake (7th of October 2023) Information and Damage 

A devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Herat city, a city with a population of 695,000 people, at approximately 11:00 AM local time (06:30 GMT) last Saturday, on October 7th, 2023. The Taliban administration reported that the seismic event had claimed the lives of over 2,400 individuals, marking one of the deadliest earthquakes Afghanistan has experienced in years. 

Janan Sayeeq, spokesperson for the Ministry of Disasters, conveyed to Reuters  that the death toll has now reached 2,445, while he revised the number of injured to "more than 2,000." Initially, he had stated that 9,240 people had sustained injuries. Additionally, Sayeeq disclosed that 1,320 homes had suffered damage or complete destruction, particularly impacting communities with mud-based structures. Many of these structures crumbled during the initial tremor. 

As a result of disrupted communications and blocked roads, rescue teams are encountering challenges in reaching remote areas, where hundreds remain injured and in need of assistance. The United Nations and various humanitarian organizations have commenced the rapid deployment of emergency relief supplies. 

Damage of Mw6.3 Afghanistan earthquake 7th of October 2023.Picture 1: Damage of Mw6.3 Afghanistan earthquake (7th of October 2023). 

Seismicity in Afghanistan

Located amidst towering mountain ranges, Afghanistan has a long history of powerful earthquakes, particularly within the rugged Hindu Kush region, next to Pakistan. This susceptibility to seismic activity arises from Afghanistan's location position along the tectonic boundary separating the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. This geological setting places Afghanistan among the actively seismic regions. 

The primary source of seismicity in Afghanistan stems from the relentless convergence and collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates. The Indian plate's northward movement, thrusting beneath the Eurasian plate, has contributed to the formation of the formidable Himalayan mountain range. This ongoing tectonic interplay generates immense stress along fault lines, resulting in frequent seismic events. 

In addition, Afghanistan's rugged terrain and decades of war-induced infrastructure degradation pose significant challenges for accurately assessing earthquake impacts. Remote regions often report rising death tolls as information gradually trickles in, making it difficult to coordinate relief and rescue efforts effectively. 

To delve deeper into the seismicity dynamics shaping Afghanistan, explore our blog post here.

Quantectum’s Report on the Mw6.3 Afghanistan Earthquake (7th of October 2023)

The Mw6.3 Afghanistan earthquake, represented by the prominent black column on the seismic activity chart below, sent various shockwaves through the region. It was not an isolated seismic event, as indicated by the numerous red columns, which represent the aftershocks that followed in its wake. These aftershocks, while of a lower magnitude than the main quake, still carried considerable seismic energy and contributed to the region's overall instability. 

The increase in the shear traction field, as indicated by the rising red curve, played a critical role in triggering the initial Mw6.3 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.  

Increase in the shear traction field in the area of Mw6.3 Afghanistan earthquake 7th of October 2023..
Picture 2: Increase in the shear traction field in the area of Mw6.3 Afghanistan earthquake (7th of October 2023). 

Based on our earthquake forecasting models, the increase in the shear traction field is produced by the propagation of multiple tectonic waves with variable parameters. A few of these tectonic waves also triggered other earthquakes around the world, e.g., in Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Iceland, China, the Russia-Mongolia border region, Nepal, Kuril Islands, Philippines, and Vanuatu.

Tectonic waves that triggered multiple earthquakes around the world, including the Mw6.3 Afghanistan earthquake 7th of October 2023.Picture 3: Tectonic waves that triggered multiple earthquakes around the world, including the Mw6.3 Afghanistan earthquake (7th of October 2023).

At Quantectum, we will continue to monitor the regional seismic activity and publish other interesting earthquake modeling results. These tectonic waves have already started being active before the devastating seismic event. Our earthquake forecasting models further show that with the occurrence of the aftershocks, the tectonic waves will become even more active in the following days, which will produce even higher tectonic tractions in the area and consequently lead to aftershocks of higher magnitudes.

 

Sources:  
1) Yunus Yawar, Mohammad. 2023. Afghan earthquakes kill 2,445, Taliban say, as deaths mount. Accessed on 09-Oct-2023. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/afghanistan-earthquake-death-toll-500-red-crescent-2023-10-08/ 
2) Quantectum. 2022. Seismic Activity in Afghanistan. Accessed on 09-Oct-2023. Available at: https://quantectum.com/blog/seismic-activity-in-afghanistan/ 

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