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SEISMIC ZONE MAP OF MYANMAR

(REVISED VERSION, 2005)

Explanatory Account

Dr. Maung Thein and U Tint Lwin Swe


February 2006

(Prepared under the auspices of Myanmar Earthquake Committee)

1. Introduction
This map is the revised version of the first seismic zone map of Myanmar prepared
by Dr. Maung Thein, Dr. Sone Han, U Tint Lwin Swe and Daw Tin Htay Mu in
August 2003, (Maung Thein et al., 2003). This revision was made by Dr. Maung
Thein, U Tint Lwin Swe, and Dr. Sone Han in December, 2005. This project is a
part of public service works by Myanmar Earthquake Committee in cooperation with Myanmar Geosciences Society.
The main purpose is to have an updated and more probable seismic zone map,
thereby enhancing its reliability and usefulness. Also, it may be a fairly creditable
contribution to the World Seismic Safety Initiatives (WSSI) programme. It is hoped
that this map will be more than of academic and general interest as it is useful as
outlined in Section 5. Furthermore, it is also hoped that it may contribute to the
mitigation of earthquake hazards in Myanmar to some extent.
For easier comprehension and effective communication, title, subtitles and the
explanation on the map and the explanatory account are given in both English and
Myanmar. Moreover, a new column of general descriptions for the seismic zones is
added in the explanation box.

2. Seismicity and Seismotectonics


First, it is necessary to know briefly about the seismicity and seismotectonics of
the Myanmar Region. Myanmar indeed is earthquake-prone (see Figure 1) as it lies in
one of the two main earthquake belts of the world, known as the Alpide Belt, that
starts from the northern Mediterranean in the west, and then extends eastwards
through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, the Himalayas, and Myanmar to finally Indonesia.

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6.

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INDIA
a

5.5

26

a
26

a
3.

Myitkyina

2.

25

25

a
24

23

Haka

BAN-

CHINA
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5.

2.5

Lashio

23

a
Mandalay

22 GLA-

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DESH

Sagaing Fault

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Large Earthquakes within


and near Myanmar
(with dates and magnitudes)
Locations are shown by
circled numbers
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

23 May 1912
8 July 1918
27 Jan 1931
26 June 1941
12 Sept 1946
15 Sept 1946
6. 29 July 1947
7. 15 Aug 1950

Keng Tung

1.

21

Sittway
3.2

20

19

19

a
18

18

THAILAND

INDIA PLATE
Yangon

17

5.5

5
6

2.5

16

TE
LE
T

a
Subduction zone
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MA

14

BU
R

14

5.5

M
M

Plate motion in cm/yr

PL
A

15

17

2.5

16

(8.0)
(7.6)
(7.6)
(7.7)
(7.5)
(7.75)
(7.9)
(8.7)

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Andaman Rift

13

Collision zone

4.
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Active spreading ridge


12

Thrust fault

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11

a
3.7
10

10
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Major active faults

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Figure 1. SEISMOTECTONIC MAP OF THE MYANMAR REGION


(Earthquake data: NEIC for the period 1964-2004; from other sources for 1912 - 1963.
Tectonic boundaries and fault locations are mainly based on GIAC reports (1997, 2000)).

The seismic records show that there have been at least 16 major earthquakes with
magnitude (M) 7.0 within the territory of Myanmar in the past 170 years. Among
these, the following four and 1975 Bagan Earthquake arranged chronologically, were
quite destructive: Innwa (Ava) earthquake of 23 March 1839 (M > 7.0), Maymyo
earthquake of 23 May 1912 (M 8.0), Bago (Pegu) earthquake of 5 May 1930 (M 7.3),
Sagaing earthquake of 16 July 1956 (M 7.0), and Bagan earthquake of 8 July 1975 (M
6.8).
The seismotectonics of Myanmar is shown in Figure 1. Earthquakes in Myanmar
have resulted from two main causes: (1) the continued subduction (with collision
only in the north) of the northward-moving Indian Plate underneath the Burma Platelet
(which is a part of the Eurasian Plate) at an average rate of 4.0 6.0 cm/yr; and (2) the
northward movement of the Burma Platelet from a spreading centre in the
Andaman Sea at an average rate of 2.5 3.0 cm/yr. Very large overthrusts along the
Western Fold Belt have resulted from the former movement, and the Sagaing and
related faults from the latter movement. Intermittent jerks along these major active
faults have caused the majority of earthquakes in Myanmar. These seismotectonic
processes are still going on.
Figure 2 indicates that the occurrence of intermediate-focus earthquakes (focal
depth 70 300 km) along the Western Fold Belt is due to the subduction, and that of
shallow-focus earthquakes (focal depth 0 70 km) along the Central Lowlands and
Eastern Highlands is mainly due to shallow-depth strike-slip (e. g., Sagaing Fault) and
other faulting. Generally speaking, the shallow earthquakes tend to be more
destructive than intermediate ones for the same magnitude.
The major seismotectonically important faults in Myanmar are some unnamed
major thrust faults in northwestern Myanmar, Kabaw Fault along the Kabaw Valley in
western Myanmar, the well-known Sagaing Fault, and the Kyaukkyan Fault situated
east of Naungcho.
Here, the well-known and seismologically very active Sagaing Fault deserves a
brief special mention. It is the most prominent active fault in Myanmar, trending
roughly north-south. It has been an originator of a large proportion of destructive
earthquakes in Myanmar. This is due to the fact that many large urban centres lie on
or near this fault. In fact, of the five major seismic source zones in Myanmar, three lie
around this large and dangerous fault. As shown in Figure 1, it is a right lateral
strike-slip fault extending from south of Putao, west of Katha, through Sagaing,
along the eastern flank of Bago Yomas, then through Bago, and finally into the Gulf
of Mottama for a total distance of about 1500 km. Moderate and major earthquakes

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Myitkyina
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23

Lashio

Haka
Mandalay

22

Keng Tung
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Sittway

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18

Yangon

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3.7
10
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Figure 4. Earthquake hazard level map of Myanmar showing 84 percentile zero second horizontal
ground acceleration at firm rock using known earthquake data set for the period 1912 - 2004
(NEIC and other sources). Contour interval is of 0.1 g (1.0 g = 980 cm/s/s).

that occurred on or near this large fault are (from north to south): Bago (1927, 1930M 7.3), Phyu (1930 M 7.3), Swa (1929), Pyinmana (1931), Innwa (1839 M > 7.0),
Amarapura (1855), Mandalay (1871, 1931), Sagaing (1956 M 7.0), Tagaung (1991
M 7.3), Wuntho (1946 M 7.5), Myitkyina (1931 M 7.6), and Putao (1906)
In figure 3 is shown the apparent segmentation of the Sagaing Fault into three parts
on mainland Myanmar as indicated by the clusters of earthquake epicentres and
regionwise earthquake frequencies. These three segments correspond to the three
Zone V areas, namely, Bago-Taungoo, Mandalay-Sagaing-Tagaung, and PutaoTanaing areas. Two seismic gaps can be noted in Figure 3; one in the YamethinMeiktila area, and another in the Bago area. During historical times, the former has
had low seismic activity, whereas the latter has had high seismic activity and a fairly
long history of earthquakes. In fact, Bago earthquake of 5 May 1930 was a very
destructive one. So, the Bago seismic gap (for the last 40 years) seems to suggest that
stress may have been accumulating for at least a moderate earthquake in the Bago
area.

3. Construction of the Map


This map is more refined and better supported by more seismic and seismotectonic
data and information together with some inferences. As in the previous map, the data
and information are of four kinds, with emphasis on i and ii.
i.

Regional and local seismotectonics with special reference to major active


faults.

ii.

Past earthquake data, records, and information including intensity maps


in MM scale, if available. (e. g., Maung Thein, 2001).

iii.

Distribution and density of earthquake epicentres with M 5.0.

iv.

Spatially correlated peak horizontal ground acceleration (PGA)


computed for various seismic events (e. g., Figure 4).

The above information leads to the delineation of at least five seismic source
zones (Seismogenic Zones). These are (1) northwesternmost Myanmar zone, (2)
Mandalay-Sagaing-Tagaung zone, (3) Bago-Taungoo zone, (4) northern Shansouthern Yunnan zone, and (5) northern Andaman Sea zone.

4. Meanings in the Map


The map is a probable intensity zoning map. The approach is mainly empirical
and historical in the sense that it makes use of past seismic events and history to
make educated guesses about probable regionwise intensities in the future. (It is
hoped that a probabilistic seismic risk (or earthquake hazard) map based on horizontal
ground acceleration, which is preferred by design engineers, will be constructed in due
course).
As shown in the map, five seismic zones are demarcated and named (from low to
high) Zone I (Low Zone), Zone II (Moderate Zone), Zone III (Strong Zone), Zone
IV (Severe Zone), and Zone V (Destructive Zone), mainly following the
nomenclature of the European Macroseismic Scale 1992. (It should be mentioned that
in some countries, there are zones higher than Zone V as used here). For each zone, a
probable range of ground acceleration in g values and equivalent Modified Mercalli
(MM) Scale classes are given. The highest intensity zone designated for Myanmar is
the Destructive Zone (with probable intensity range of 0.4 0.5 g) which is
equivalent to MM class IX. There are four areas in that zone; namely, Bago-Phyu,
Mandalay-Sagaing-Tagaung, Putao-Tanaing, and Kale Myo-Homalin areas. The latter
two, however, would not have major earthquake hazards as they are only sparsely
populated.
Important cities and towns that lie in Zone IV (Severe Zone, with probable
intensity range of 0.3 0.4 g) are Taungoo, Taungdwingyi, Bagan-Nyaung-U,
Kyaukse, PyinOoLwin, Shwebo, Wuntho, Hkamti, Haka, Myitkyina, Taunggyi, and
Kunglong.
Yangon straddles the boundary between Zone II and Zone III, with the old and
new satellite towns in the eastern part in Zone III, and the original city in Zone II.
Regarding the probable range of ground acceleration (in g values; where 1.0 g =
980 cm/s2 or 32 ft per second per second) expected in various seismic zones (Column
3 in Explanation Box), it should be noted that the range of g values given for a zone is
for those places with soft and medium stiff soils in an affected area in general, the
higher value is for soft soils, and the lower value is for medium stiff soils; the g value
will be lower for other places with stiff soils or bedrocks. It is for this reason that
seismic microzone maps are required for earthquake-prone big cities.
The average g value in the various seismic zones may be taken as the zone
factor of ground acceleration. Thus, the zone factors would be 0.065 g, 0.125 g, 0.25
g, 0.35 g, and 0.45 g for Seismic Zones I, II, III, IV, and V, respectively.
Regarding the Modified Mercalli (MM) Scale classes (Column 4), the level of
probable damage and destruction may be summarized as in Table 1.

Table 1
Zone

MM Classes

IX

Probable Damage

Examples of Damage

Major damage

Considerable damage
designed structures

in

specially

Major damage in good RC buildings


IV

VIII IX

Considerable
damage

Considerable damage in good RC


buildings
Major damage
buildings

in

ordinary

brick

III

VIII

Moderate damage

Moderate damage in good RC buildings


Considerable damage in ordinary brick
buildings

II

VII

Minor damage

Minor damage in good RC buildings


Moderate damage in ordinary brick
buildings

VI

Slight damage

Minor damage
buildings

in

ordinary

brick

5. Usefulness
The main uses of this map are as follows:
i.

For educational purposes.


In teaching appropriate courses in environmental geology, tectonics,
seismology, civil engineering, earthquake engineering, natural hazards
management, regional planning

ii.

For public awareness of regionwise earthquake hazards.

iii.

For earthquake information in regional planning.

iv.

For earthquake information in major construction and public works


projects.

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References

GIAC, 1997. Report of Geodynamics of India and Asia Collision, GIAC Project.
GIAC, 2000. Report of Geodynamics of India and Asia Collision, GIAC Project.
Maung Thein, 2001. Mitigation and Earthquake Hazards in Myanmar (in Myanmar
with abstract in English). Jour. Myan. Acad. Tech., v. 1, no. 2, p. 124 134.
Maung Thein, Sone Han, Tint Lwin Swe, Tin Htay Mu, 2003. Seismic Zone Map of
Myanmar (A3 size) with an explanatory note (9 p.)
NEIC, 2004. Earthquake data of Myanmar Region for 1964 2004.

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SEISMIC ZONE MAP OF MYANMAR


(REVISED VERSION, 2005)
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(Shown with probable maximum intensities in g values


and MM classes)

Putao

jrefrmEdkifiH ivsifZkefrsm;jyajryHk

III
0

(jyifqifa&;qGJxm;aomyHk-2005)

II

(tjrifhqHk;a&mufEdkifonfh jyif;xeftm;rsm;udk
26
g wefzdk;rsm;ESifh MM twef;rsm;wdkYjzifh
jyxm;onf/)
25

Hkamti

50
50

100

miles

100
150

27

km

200

26
V

Myitkyina

25

Homalin
IV

INDIA

Bamaw

24

Tagaung
Kale Myo

III

24

Kunglong

Lashio

23

22

CHINA

Muse

Wuntho

Haka

23

Shwebo

IV

PyinOoLwin
Monywa Mandalay
Sagaing
BANGLADESH

22
III

Kyaukse
IV
III

21

Meiktila

Myauk U

21

Taunggyi

IV

Tachileik

II

LAOS

III
Magway
Taungdwingyi
Pyinmana Loikaw

Sittway

20

Keng Tung

Bagan

Taungoo

Pyay

19

20

19

Phyu

Thandwe
BAY OF BENGAL

IV

18

Pathein

THAILAND

Bago

II

17

18

II

Hinthada

Pa-an

Yangon
V
Maubin

17

Mawlamyine

III

GULF
OF
MOTTAMA

16

16

15

15
CoCo Island

14

Dawei

EXPLANATION
SEISMIC ZONE

13

12

ivsifZkef
V

III
II

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I

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13

jzpfEdkifaomajrjyifivsif
nDaomjyifqifxm;
a,bk,saz:jycsuf vdIif;oGm;t&Sdefwefzdk;rsm; wl
rmu,fvDtwef;rsm;

IV

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EQUIVALENT
PROBABLE RANGE OF
MODIFIED MERCALLI
GROUND ACCELERATION
SCALE CLASSES

GENERAL
DESCRIPTION

14

&Sif;vif;az:jycsuf

92

Destructive Zone

0.4 - 0.5 g

IX

Severe Zone

0.3 - 0.4 g

VIII - IX

0.2 - 0.3 g

VIII

0.1 - 0.15 g

VII

zsufpD;rIrsm;Zkef

II

jyif;xefZkef
Strong Zone

tm;jyif;Zkef

Moderate Zone

tm;vwfZkef

11

Kawthaung

Low Zone

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95

Printed by
Myanmar Earthquake Committee
December 2005

VI

0.05 - 0.07 g

tm;enf;Zkef
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12
Myeik

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99

100

Revised by Dr. Maung Thein, U Tint Lwin Swe and Dr. Sone Han (December 2005)

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28
Putao

27
Khanti

26

26
Myitkyina

25

Homelin

Mu-se

24

24

Tagaung
Kalaewa
Lashio

22

Bagan
Myauk U

23

Shwebo
Pyin Oo Lwin
Monywa
Sagaing Mandalay

LATITUDE
LONGITUDE

Haka

Kyaing Tone
Penlon
Meikhtila Taunggyi
Tachilake

Magway
Taungdwingyi
Pyinmana Loikaw

20

Pyay

Taungngu

22
21
20
19

18

18
Bago
Hpa-an

Yangon
Pathein
Myaung Mya
Phyapon

17

16

16

LEGEND
CoCo Island

Dawei

14

15

M >= 5

14

M >= 6

13
0

12

Myeik

M >= 7

92.5

94

95.5

97

98.5

10
% FREQUENCY

M >= 8

Kawthaung

10

100

Figure 3. Apparent segmentation of the Sagaing Fault into three parts on mainland Myanmar as indicated by the
cluster of earthquake epicentres (left) and relative frequency of earthquake occurrences (right).Two
seismic gaps in the Yamethin-Meiktila and Bago areas can be noted. (Earthquakes with magnitude
5.0 for the period 1964-2004).

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