Earthquake in Bangladesh

Earthquake trembling or shaking movement of the earth's surface. Most earthquakes are minor tremors, while larger earthquakes usually begin with slight tremors, rapidly take the form of one or more violent shocks, and end in vibrations of gradually diminishing force called aftershocks. Earthquake is a form of energy of wave motion, which originates in a limited region and then spreads out in all directions from the source of disturbance. It usually lasts for a few seconds to a minute. The point within the earth where earthquake waves originate is called the focus, from where the vibrations spread in all directions. They reach the surface first at the point immediately above the focus and this point is called the epicentre. It is at the epicentre where the shock of the earthquake is first experienced. On the basis of the depth of focus, an earthquake may be termed as shallow focus (0-70 km), intermediate focus (70-300 km), and deep focus (> 300 km). The most common measure of earthquake size is the Richter's magnitude (M). The Richter scale uses the maximum surface wave amplitude in the seismogram and the difference in the arrival times of primary (P) and secondary (S) waves for determining magnitude (M). The magnitude is related to roughly logarithm of energy, E in ergs. Earthquakes originate due to various reasons, which fall into two major categories viz non-tectonic and tectonic. The origin of tectonic earthquakes is explained with the help of 'elastic rebound theory'. Earthquakes are distributed unevenly on the globe. However, it has been observed that most of the destructive earthquakes originate within two well-defined zones or belts namely, 'the circum-Pacific belt' and 'the Mediterranean-Himalayan seismic belt'. Although Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable to seismic activity, the nature and the level of this activity is yet to be defined. In Bangladesh complete earthquake monitoring facilities are not available. The Meteorological Department of Bangladesh established a seismic observatory at Chittagong in 1954. This remains the only observatory in the country. Accurate historical information on earthquakes is very important in evaluating the seismicity of Bangladesh in close coincidences with the geotectonic elements. Information on earthquakes in and around Bangladesh is available for the last 250 years. The earthquake record suggests that since 1900 more than 100 moderate to large earthquakes occurred in Bangladesh, out of which more than 65 events occurred after 1960. This brings to light an increased frequency of earthquakes in the last 30 years. This increase in earthquake activity is an indication of fresh tectonic activity or propagation of fractures from the adjacent SEISMIC ZONEs. Before the coming of the Europeans, there was no definite record of earthquakes. Following is a chronology of important earthquakes from 1548. Chronology 1548 1642 1663 1762 The first recorded earthquake was a terrible one. Sylhet and Chittagong were violently shaken, the earth opened in many places and threw up water and mud of a sulphurous smell. More severe damage occurred in Sylhet district. Buildings were cracked but there was no loss of life. Severe earthquake in ASSAM, which continued for half an hour and Sylhet district was not free from its shock. The great earthquake of April 2, which raised the coast of Foul island by 2.74m and the northwest coast of Chedua island by 6.71m above sea level and also caused a permanent submergence of 155.40 sq km near Chittagong. The earthquake proved very violent in Dhaka and along the eastern bank of the MEGHNA as far as Chittagong. In Dhaka 500 persons lost their lives, the RIVERs and JHEELs were agitated and rose high above their usual levels and when they receded their banks were strewn with dead fish. A large river dried up, a tract of land sank and 200 people with all their CATTLE were lost. Two volcanoes were said to have opened in the Sitakunda hills. Severe earthquake in Dhaka around April 10, but no loss of life. Severe earthquake in many places of Bangladesh around May 11. The earthquake proved violent in Sylhet Terrible shock was felt, during the second earthquake occurred in the winter of 1865, although no serious damage occurred. Known as Cachar Earthquake. Severely felt in Sylhet but no loss of life. The steeple of the church was shattered, the walls of the courthouse and the circuit bungalow cracked and in the eastern part of the district the banks of many rivers caved in. Known as the Bengal Earthquake. Occurred on 14 July with 7.0 magnitude and the epicentre was at Manikganj. This event was generally associated with the deep-seated Jamuna Fault. Occurred on 10 January with 7.5 magnitude and the epicentre at Jaintia Hills. It affected

1775 1812 1865 1869 1885 1889


Earthquake in Bangladesh
1897 Sylhet town and surrounding areas. Known as the Great India Earthquake with a magnitude of 8.7 and epicentre at Shillong Plateau. The great earthquake occurred on 12 June at 5.15 pm, caused serious damage to masonry buildings in Sylhet town where the death toll rose to 545. This was due to the collapse of the masonry buildings. The tremor was felt throughout Bengal, from the south Lushai Hills on the east to Shahbad on the west. In Mymensingh, many public buildings of the district town, including the Justice House, were wrecked and very few of the two-storied brick-built houses belonging to ZAMINDARs survived. Heavy damage was done to the bridges on the Dhaka-Mymensingh railway and traffic was suspended for about a fortnight. The river communication of the district was seriously affected (BRAHMAPUTRA). Loss of life was not great, but loss of property was estimated at five million Rupees. Rajshahi suffered severe shocks, especially on the eastern side, and 15 persons died. In Dhaka damage to property was heavy. In Tippera masonry buildings and old temples suffered a lot and the total damage was estimated at Rs 9,000. Known as the Srimangal Earthquake. Occurred on 18 July with a magnitude of 7.6 and epicentre at Srimangal, Maulvi Bazar. Intense damage occurred in Srimangal, but in Dhaka only minor effects were observed. Known as the Dhubri Earthquake. Occurred on 3 July with a magnitude of 7.1 and the epicentre at Dhubri, Assam. The earthquake caused major damage in the eastern parts of Rangpur district. Known as the Bihar-Nepal Earthquake. Occurred on 15 January with a magnitude of 8.3 and the epicentre at Darbhanga of Bihar, India. The earthquake caused great damage in Bihar, Nepal and Uttar Pradesh but did not affect any part of Bangladesh. Another earhquake occured on 3 July with a magnitude of 7.1 and the epicentre at Dhubri of Assam, India. The earthquake caused considerable damages in greater Rangpur district of Bangladesh. Known as the Assam Earthquake. Occurred on 15 August with a magnitude of 8.4 with the epicentre in Assam, India. The tremor was felt throughout Bangladesh but no damage was reported. Occurred on 22 November in Chittagong with a magnitude of 6.0. It caused minor damage around Chittagong town. Occurred on 22 July at Maheshkhali Island with the epicentre in the same place, a magnitude of 5.2. Severely felt around Maheshkhali island and the adjoining SEA. Houses cracked and in some cases collapsed. Occurred on 27 July at Kolabunia union of Barkal upazila, Rangamati district with magnitude 5.1. The time was at 05:17:26.8 hours.

1918 1930 1934

1950 1997 1999 2003

Status of earthquakes Bangladesh is surrounded by the regions of high seismicity which include the Himalayan Arc and SHILLONG PLATEAU in the north, the Burmese Arc, Arakan Yoma anticlinorium in the east and complex Naga-Disang-Jaflong thrust zones in the northeast. It is also the site of the Dauki Fault system along with numerous subsurface active faults and a flexure zone called Hinge Zone. These weak regions are believed to provide the necessary zones for movements within the basin area. In the generalised tectonic map of Bangladesh the distribution of epicentres is found to be linear along the Dauki Fault system and random in other regions of Bangladesh. The investigation of the map demonstrates that the epicentres are lying in the weak zones comprising surface or subsurface faults. Most of the events are of moderate rank (magnitude 4-6) and lie at a shallow depth, which suggests that the recent movements occurred in the SEDIMENTs overlying the basement rocks. In the northeastern region (SURMA BASIN), major events are controlled by the Dauki Fault system. The events located in and around the MADHUPUR TRACT also indicate shallow displacement in the faults separating the block from the ALLUVIUM. The first seismic zoning map of the subcontinent was compiled by the Geological Survey of India in 1935. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department adopted a seismic zoning map in 1972. In 1977, the Government of Bangladesh constituted a Committee of Experts to examine the seismic problem and make appropriate recommendations. The Committee proposed a zoning map of Bangladesh in the same year.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
In the zoning map, Bangladesh has been divided into three generalised seismic zones: zone-I, zone-II and zone-III. Zone-I comprising the northern and eastern regions of Bangladesh with the presence of the Dauki Fault system of eastern Sylhet and the deep seated Sylhet Fault, and proximity to the highly disturbed southeastern Assam region with the Jaflong thrust, Naga thrust and Disang thrust, is a zone of high seismic risk with a basic seismic co-efficient of 0.08. Northern Bangladesh comprising greater Rangpur and Dinajpur districts is also a region of high seismicity because of the presence of the Jamuna Fault and the proximity to the active east-west running fault and the Main Boundary Fault to the north in India. The Chittagong-Tripura Folded Belt experiences frequent earthquakes, as just to its east is the Burmese Arc where a large number of shallow depth earthquakes originate. Zone-II comprising the central part of Bangladesh represents the regions of recent uplifted Pleistocene blocks of the Barind and Madhupur Tracts, and the western extension of the folded belt. The Zone-III comprising the southwestern part of Bangladesh is seismically quiet, with an estimated basic seismic co-efficient of 0.04. Mitigation approach The occurrence of earthquakes in an earthquake prone region cannot be prevented. Rather, all that could be done is to make a prediction and issue a warning for minimising loss of life and property. Although precise prediction is not always possible, an acceptable valid prediction of an earthquake will certainly minimise the loss of life and property. However, as far as Bangladesh is concerned a detailed geological map including the delineation of all crustal faults and lineaments is of prime importance. The Aeromagnetic survey of Bangladesh has already provided the pattern and distribution of such faults and lineaments. By now the delineation of faults within the Tertiary sections are well established, but the situation within the Quaternary section is quite uncertain. It is evident that Quaternary sediments are affected by various earthquake events in Bangladesh pertaining to uplift, SUBSIDENCE, ground deformation and massive liquefaction. Since water plays an important role in fault creep and fault slip, a small amount of water can produce an effect on a lubricated surface for fault displacement with a stress drop of only 10 to 100 bars. The earthquake disaster mitigation approach should be followed by (i) pre-disaster physical planning of human settlements, (ii) building measures for minimising the impact of disaster and (iii) management of settlements. [Sifatul Quader Chowdhury and Aftab Alam Khan] Bibliography MH Ali and JR Choudhury, Assessment of seismic hazard in Bangladesh, Disaster Research Training and Management Centre, Dhaka University, Dhaka, 2001; JR Choudhury and MH Ali, Seismic Zoning of Bangladesh, paper presented in the Seminar on Recent Development Earthquake Disaster Mitigation, Organised by IEB and TAEE, Dhaka, 1994; KM Hossain, Tectonic significance and earthquake occurrences in Bangladesh, 7th Geological Conference, Bangladesh Geological Society, 1989.

How prepared are we for an earthquake? Interview with Director of Disaster Preparedness Centre
Muhammad Saidur Rahman is Director of Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Centre, which has been working since 1991 in the field of capacity buildingof institutions, government and non-government, engaged in disaster management. The organisation basically does research, policy formulation, strategy formulation etc. At the moment, it is working on capacity building of government organisation in case an earthquake hits the country. Mr. Rahman is a former college teacher of chemistry. He has also served as the deputy secretary general of Bangladesh Red Cross (now Crescent) Society as well as the country director of Oxfam. The interview was taken by Kaushik Sankar Das. Daily Star (DS): Bangladesh, used to be called a country of natural disasters thanks to regular floods, cyclones etc. is recently struck by a new disaster, earthquake, in the coastal area and the hill tracts of Chittagong though there has not been much damage. Could you tell us how vulnerable we actually are in terms of a severe earthquake in the country? Saidur Rahman (SR): A world famous seismologist Professor Billham said in 2001 that in the Himalayan region, at least seven earthquakes of the strength 8.1 and above on the Richter scale are overdue. A team of experts led by him did a survey and they identified seven to eight risk prone countries and Bangladesh is obviously one of them because of its geographical location. Secondly a study by a UN sponsored programme called International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction in the period from 1991 till 2000 surveyed at least 30 different cities. And the findings of the survey are very threatening to us. They are saying that the two most vulnerable cities to earthquake are Tehran and Dhaka. There were several factors to come to this conclusion. For example situation in an earthquake zone, physical infrastructure, socio-economic condition of the people living there and most importantly response management.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
DS: But why Dhaka? It's not listed in the primary earthquake zone in the region. SR: Because Dhaka got zero points in the main categories. Thickness of buildings, poor quality of construction, poor socio-economic condition of people and above all poor response management were the main negative factors for Dhaka when the survey was done in 1998. All these put together Dhaka was on the top along with Tehran as the most vulnerable cities when it comes to earthquake in the world. DS: Has the situation changed since then? SR: Well, let me put it this way -- we are more aware of the risks now than ever before. And the serious earthquake in Bhuj in Gujarat was responsible for the renewed awareness. A lot of people working in this sector went there including myself. One thing that really struck me was that those organisations or institutions, responsible to help or rescue after a disaster hits, get affected by the disaster themselves, then how the response management would be put into effect. For example, the hospital, the water supply system in Bhuj were completely destroyed. DS: Do similar flaws exist in Dhaka as well? SR: More than enough, in fact the situation is worse in some cases. The fire brigade headquarters is situated in old Dhaka, if an area like that with narrow lanes and a huge population, is effected then what kind of help can we expect. Also the way utility services like WASA, DESA, Titas Gas have their supplies in densely populated areas, it would be not just difficult but impossible to some extent to response to a disaster similar to the one in Bhuj. It takes them fifteen days to fix only one burst gas pipeline. Need I say more? My realisation after visiting Bhuj was that this is not like other disasters like flood and cyclone. The speed with which government and non-government organisations can respond in those situations, is not possible when it comes to earthquake. Because the first job in earthquake is to rescue trapped people from inside collapsed buildings. And who can do this job better than those with proper equipment and training. For that we can only rely on government institutions. On my return, my organisation and Oxfam jointly went to meet the Minister for Disaster Management and Relief and he immediately bought the idea. And for the first ever time, national sensitisation seminar was held in Dhaka in March last year where the responsibilities of various government institutions in times of an earthquake were identified. The heads of all organisations attended the seminar and interestingly, but not unexpectedly, it was revealed that none of these organisations had any contingency plan. It never crossed anyone's mind that an earthquake can hit anytime and create such a havoc for which an integrated management was essential. DS: Why do you think the government failed to sit up and take note of the situations from the devastating earthquakes in Kobe and then in Gujarat, especially since Bangladesh has remained as an earthquake prone zone for a long time? SR: I think the government's priority and orientation changed mainly after the devastation in Bhuj in Gujarat. After the seminar last year, the Ministry took a lot of initiatives. The first one was that the capacity of the organisations would be developed. Six meetings were held and they were attended not only by the heads of the seventeen organisations, but also the minister, the mayor of Dhaka and other officials. And the outcome of those meetings could be described as some success, if not more. I wouldn't say they are hundred percent capable as yet, but they are definitely more sensitised to a crisis than ever before. They are ready to do something at least if a disaster strikes. Secondly, to do something, not just awareness, they need some specialised equipment too. The government has been arranging with our help to hold a mock demonstration in old Dhaka to show physically what should be done immediately when an earthquake strikes. Since Sylhet and Chittagong region are also very vulnerable to earthquake, similar initiatives have also been taken to train members of government organisations for immediate response to earthquakes. We have to remember that basic responsibility to protect the life and property of people lies with the government and the government has the capacity and resources to do that. There is a government standing order for disasters. It describes the responsibilities of all the government organsiations from the PM's office to local Union Parishad in times of disasters, but earthquake is not included in the order. It was written a long time ago and revised in 1995. At the moment we are working on how to include earthquake in that standing order.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
DS: If the organisations are more aware and capable of tackling a crisis of this nature, then why have there been reports of no government assistance after the recent tremors in Chittagong and Rangamati? SR: I would take it as a positive thing, because at least as soon as the reports of tremors began to trickle in, all these organisations were on alert and they were also alerted by the deputy commissioners. Since the damage was not severe in Chittagong City, nothing was seen. But if it was, maybe we would have witnessed those in action. DS: Let's take a hypothetical scenario. If a severe earthquake strikes in Dhaka city with narrow lanes, badly planned housing estates etc, are these organisations well prepared to respond immediately to the crisis, for example rescuing trapped people from collapsed houses? SR: In one word -- no. They are not well equipped, though they are more sensitised. But at the same time Bangladesh Army has a contingency plan, Bangladesh Fire Brigade and Civil Defence Directorate has a contingency plan, Titas Gas has a contingency plan, WASA has a plan but all these organisations do not have proper equipment. That's why the ministry has requested for a list of equipment from them. I don't know whether enough funds would be granted to buy the equipment, but I hope the government will take some initiative to arrange the fund. DS: Apart from lack of equipment, which are the other areas that could pose a serious threat to the rescue work? SR: First of all, there are very few cities in the world like Dhaka that have developed in such an unplanned manner. Building codes are never followed here. Secondly, there are no specific projects or ideas to keep us safe from earthquakes. For example, projects aided by Japan have specified certain areas in densely populated cities like Tehran, Manila, Turkey where specific laws would have to be adhered to in case one wants to build a new house, vulnerable buildings have been identified etc. Here we all know that there are codes but they are hardly implemented. DS: But are those organisations responsible for ensuring the rules included in the programme that the government has taken up? SR: Of course, RAJUK is one of the seventeen organisations who are part of this process. The RAJUK chairman attended two meetings; the additional chief engineer attends all the meetings. They are planning ways to revise the building code and make it more effective for implementation. Then there are practical problems like lack of open spaces in the city where the affected people can be taken after a tremor. We are hoping that after the sensitisation process, we would be able to make proper use of our limited resources in a planned manner. We can at least reduce the risk, if nothing more. Take for example an area like old Dhaka. Even if the government wants, it can't relocate the inhabitants somewhere else, but the government can identify the empty spaces and playing fields that still exists there and make proper use of them. In a poor country like Nepal, the government decided to retrofit some schools, it means the buildings have been made earthquake proof by spending a little extra. Even the carpenters and masons are being trained. Here forget them, even the architects are not fully aware of the risks. So it's a long way to go. What I want to say is that it's not the resources, it's the will that is required. And the ministry has shown a lot of interests in doing something constructive. We along with Oxfam are working very closely with the ministry and we have realised that not the non-governmental organisations', the roles of the government organisations are of utmost importance. DS: What other measures have been taken to aware people about the risks and the things to do after a tremor? SR: The ministry has prepared one hundred thousand brochures sponsored by UNICEF, two 90 seconds long short films funded by Oxfam have been made -- one addressing the common people on what they could do and the other aiming at the responsible organistations on what could be done by them. Apart from these, leaflets are being published for distribution in educational institutions. And the effort is on. I am very optimist by the level of seriousness shown by the government. But I agree that it will take time to achieve what we have set out to do. Kaushik Sankar Das is an Assistant Editor of The Daily Star.


Earthquake in Bangladesh

Potential earthquake threat and our coping strategies Dr M Shahidul Islam
Although earthquake in Bangladesh has not yet been recognised as a case of serious natural disaster, but recent occurrences and assumptions have already generated a potential threat. The incidents of recent repeated earthquakes on 27 July in Chittagong have raised a great concern among the people of the country, particularly among those around Chittagong region. What is an earthquake? It is a shock or a series of shocks on the earth surface resulted from release of pressure due to sudden movement of crystal rocks along active fault lines or plate boundaries of the earth surface or in areas of volcanic activities. Some parts of the world are earthquake prone more than others, although such event may happen at any place, any time and that of any magnitude. Japan, the Philippines, Southeast Asia and North America are particularly vulnerable to earthquake. Geographically Bangladesh is located close to the boundary of two active plates: the Indian plate in the west and the Eurasian plate in the east and north. As a result the country is always under a potential threat of earthquake of any magnitude at any time, which might cause catastrophic devastation in less than a minute. In the seismic zoning map of Bangladesh, Chittagong region has been shown under Zone II with basic seismic coefficient of 0.05, but recent repeated jerk around this region indicate the possibilities of potential threat of even much higher intensity than projected. A total of about six lackh incidents of quakes of different magnitudes occur annually throughout the world of which that of magnitudes 6-7, 7-8 and above 8 are 120, 18 and 1, respectively. The records in Bangladesh during the last 175 years shows total number of 25, 18 and 4 incidents of earthquakes having intensity more than 6, 7 and 8 on Richter scale, respectively. Among such incidents Bengal Eq of 14 July 1885 (R-7), Great Indian Eq of 12 June 1897 (R-8.7), Srimangal Eq of 8 July 1918 (7.6) and Assam Eq of 15 August 1950 (R-8.5) are well known. However, people's awareness regarding earthquakes in Bangladesh began to generate after the tragic death of Sadia (a little girl) in a quake of only R-5.6 magnitude on 21 November, 1997. Moreover, the incidents of repeated shocks between 22 July and 2 August, 1999 at Moheskhali and the damages to lives and properties could draw the attention of the nation considerably. Since then earthquake in Bangladesh has been considered as a potential natural killer to human lives. The last major earthquake in Bangladesh occurred about 30 years back. Statistically the threat of such a high magnitude tremor has the highest possibly to happen at any time, which might cause devastations particularly in Dhaka and Chittagong cities. The occurrence of earthquakes is part of the natural process in the earth's geophysical system. Under the present stage of scientific development it is not possible to stop such natural events, and even if it was possible to do so, we should not intervene such internal system of the earth. However, understanding the characteristics of internal geophysical process of the earth and possibility of its forecasting can reduce the casualties from such incident considerably. Developed countries are doing continuous research in this field. Rather it is better to accommodate this event and develop technology to live with such incident, as we are living with cyclones, storm surges and floods. However, locating the epicenters and monitoring the characteristics of each shock may improve our understanding considerably and lead us to develop some preventive measure to live with earthquakes. It is thus immediate necessity to upgrade the existing earthquake measurement station at Ambagan in Chittagong and complete the two other proposed stations at Dinajpur and Sylhet. Bangladesh has improved tremendously to mitigate and manage many of its natural disasters, although the mitigation strategies regarding earthquake has remained nearly in its infant stage. At this stage the country does not need to take any radical measures to mitigate the earthquake incident, rather the concept of earthquake mitigation and management issues can be incorporated within the existing disaster management programme of the government, ranging from National Disaster Management Council to Union Disaster Management Committee. Proper training to voluntary organisations and NGOs, and procurement of instruments required for rescue operation must get top priority in the management agenda. Moreover, motivation programme and increasing of people's awareness can reduce the casualties from any earthquake incident considerably. It is not the earthquake rather it is the building that kills people. If the collapse of even a single building can become possible to stop, it can save many lives residing in that building. It is not possible to abandon all old buildings, under the potential threat of earthquake. However, it is quite possible that all newly constructed buildings and structures must be brought under strict building code that resists earthquake damage.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is possibly one of the countries most vulnerable to potential earthquake threat and damage. An earthquake of even medium magnitude on Richter scale can produce a mass graveyard in major cities of the country, particularly Dhaka and Chittagong, without any notice. Construction of new buildings strictly following building code or development of future controls on building construction are the activities which will be functional in future. However, under the present stage of human occupancy, buildings, infrastructures and other physical structures of different areas of a city will not be equally vulnerable to any such shock. Earthquake vulnerability of any place largely depends on its geology and topography, population density, building density and quality, and finally the coping strategy of its people, and it shows clear spatial variations. It is thus necessary to identify the scale of such variations and take necessary measurements to cope with that. Although the earthquake tremors cannot be stopped or reduced, the human casualties and loss of properties can be reduced with the help of an earthquake vulnerable assessment atlas. An earthquake atlas is the presentation of facts relating to earthquakes and the guideline for earthquake mitigation measurements at regional scale in the form of map, graphs, pictures and text. Such an atlas provides clear guidelines to post disaster rescue operation, regional scale mitigation strategies and stepwise disaster management activities. We do not have any such atlas neither at national level nor at regional level. However, it is the timely demand to prepare an earthquake vulnerability assessment atlas of Bangladesh in general, and for the major cities in particular. Large scale mitigation measurement needs huge initial investment; however, to save human lives and properties, we should not hesitate to do so. Particularly strict control of building codes, enforcement of laws and orders, and development of people awareness has no alternatives. However, some immediate measures are suggested below: - Make an inventory of all old buildings which are vulnerable to earthquake, and either repair or evacuate occupants from those buildings. - Make an inventory of houses, which are constructed at the foot of steep hillsides, particularly where hill slopes have been cut, even ten years back. Relocate those families to suitable places. - Make earthquake vulnerability atlas of major cities, which will show in detail the list of vulnerable sites, their possible consequences and possible measurements of mitigation at different scales of earthquake events. - Strict application of building codes for all newly constructed buildings, particularly all high rises buildings. - Development of awareness programme to educate people regarding the causes and consequences of earthquakes. And also to disseminate knowledge to them regarding their responsibilities before, during and after the earthquake through seminar, symposium and workshop, and also through non-formal education by GO and NGOs. During the 20s and 30s of the last century Japan lost 1.5 lackh human lives only in five earthquake incidents. But that society has faced this challenge successfully over the last 50 years. During the last 80s and 90s a total of 30 events hit the country causing loss of less than six thousand lives. Japan has not succeeded to stop earthquakes but has reduced the human casualties and loss of properties dramatically. At the present stage of our society and current level of development we may seem helpless but through our sincerity, honesty and commitment we may even do better than the Japanese society. We should therefore be optimistic and thus active. Dr M Shahidul Islam is Professor, Department of Geography, University of Chittagong.


Earthquake in Bangladesh

Bangladesh vulnerable to earthquake
Experts, stakeholders blame uncontrolled urbanisation, over population BSS, Dhaka Experts and stakeholders at an workshop yesterday underscored the need for taking a long-term programme specially focusing in urban areas to face any natural calamities like earthquake. Due to its geographic location, Bangladesh is vulnerable to earthquake and colossal damages of lives and properties may be occurred if the country faces an earthquake measuring five to six on the Richter scale, they said. Uncontrolled urbanisation and over population put Bangladesh at high risk of earthquake , they added. Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf attended the inaugural function organised by the ministry with the help of European Mission Team at a city hotel as the chief guest. E. Kentrschynskyj and Hans Rhein of EU Delegation in Bangladesh and Dr. John M Reynolds, team leader of Identification Mission spoke at the inaugurals session with AHM Shamsul Islam, Director General of Disaster Management Bureau (DMB) in the chair. The minister said the government has undertaken various earthquake preparedness measures to mitigate the sufferings of the people and reduce loss of lives and properties. We are providing training to all concerned and creating awareness among the people to face such disaster, he added. Citing expert opinion, he said Bangladesh is situated on the earthquake zone and any colossal damage may occurred if the country faces a moderate intensity earthquake. The country experienced at least 50 mild tremors last year with fear of another major earthquake, he added. He said old and unplanned building construction in the capital city especially in the old part of Dhaka will lead damages of lives and properties in earthquake. He said the government has taken a Comprehensive Disaster Management Policy (CDMP) for earthquake preparedness and mitigation. He sought cooperation from the development partners specially the European Commission (EU) to provide all out support in this regard. A total of 40 representatives from the government organisations including Army, Navy, Air force, BDR, Fire Service, Civil Defence, Red Crescent Society, NGOs, and development partners are participating in the workshop.

Bangladesh runs high risk of quake, tsunami
Experts tell roundtable Staff Correspondent Bangladesh is running a high risk of earthquake and tsunami, but it has little preparation to combat those natural calamities, said the experts at a roundtable yesterday. They said the recent earthquake in Pakistan and tsunami in the Western Bay of Bengal are the warnings for Bangladesh. The roundtable was organised by Volunteers Against Disaster (VAD) in association with the Disaster Research Training Management Centre of Dhaka University (DU) at the auditorium of geography and environment department. The speakers said there are a few geological faults that can cause strong earthquakes in the country. One of them is Dauki fault at the bordering area of Sylhet-Meghalaya and the other one is Sitakunda-Teknaf fault at Chittagong coastal area.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
There are many seismic faults in the plains around Dhaka and Chittagong Hill Tracts, which can cause earthquakes, said Geology Prof Syed Humayun Aktar. "No earthquakes occurred in these faults for many years, which means huge strength has gathered underground that could cause serious earthquakes in Bangladesh and its neighbouring areas any time," he said. Humayun Aktar said there is a long 600 kilometer seismic gap (that indicates possibility of earthquake) stretching from the Andaman Islands of the Bay of Bengal to Teknaf where there is no record of earthquake. "This is a great threat which could cause a strong earthquake measuring 8 in Richter Scale in Bangladesh, and turn into tsunami if the earthquake occurs under the Bay of Bengal," he warned. Humayun Aktar said such tsunamis will directly hit Orissa of India, West Bengal and the total coastal belt of Bangladesh. "As our coastal belt is only 750 km away from Teknaf-Andaman seismic gap, it will take only one and a half hours to destroy coastal localities," he added. Humayun Aktar said if earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 occur in Bangladesh or in Meghalaya, Assam, Monipur, and Mijoram of India and at the bordering area of Myanmar, those will cause huge loss of life and property in the country. Mir Fazlul Karim, director of Geological Survey of Bangladesh, said, “The 200 km long continental shelf is susceptible to earthquakes and landslides or slump failures along the margins. These locations are extremely potential for generation of local tsunamis, which are more destructive than the regional tsunamis." He suggested development of a rapid seismic observatory system including hydro-acoustic sensors, sea height buoys and modern tide gauges as an integral part of early warning system for tsunami. Md Abu Sadek, director general of Disaster Management Bureau, said the Building Code, now being reviewed, should incorporate the issue of earthquake as well as its strict implementation. "We spend huge money for post-disaster management, but I think a portion of it should be spent on researches," he added. Dr Ashraf Mahmud Dewan, assistant professor of geography and environment science department of DU, suggested that all organisations concerned have to share earthquake and tsunami-related information and create mass awareness among the people. Dean of Science Faculty Prof RIM Aminur Rashid, Prof Abdur Rab, Prof Hafiza Khatun, Prof Nurul Islam Nazem, Prof Aftab Alam Khan, Deputy Director of Meteorological Department Arjumand Habib and Dr Aslam Alam of Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme of Ministry of Food and Disaster Management also spoke at the roundtable moderated by Prof Jamal Khan.

Earthquake: Prediction and measures M Muminullah
Face of the earth is changing through geological processes, sea floor spreading and plate tectonics. Earthquake is the outcome of such geological processes. Study of world wide frequency suggests that the more severe an earthquake, the less it occurs. A catastrophic earthquake with a magnitude more than 8.0 on Richter scale usually occurs once in every 5-10 years; disastrous on local scale with magnitude 6.2-6.9 about 100 or more in a year, and moderate (magnitude 4.3-4.8) more or less 5000 per year. Earthquake with magnitude less than 3.4 recorded only by seismograph, the annual number of such tremor is about 800,000. So far at least 12 large-to-great earthquakes occurred in and around Bangladesh. In this context the people, government policy-makers as well as professional community viz. engineers, architects,


Earthquake in Bangladesh
seismic geologists, planners etc may consider recurrence interval for hazard avoidance through structural design and by proper land-use. The Calcutta Earthquake of October 1, 1737 recorded a death toll of 300,000. This is the third most disastrous quake in this region which occurred during the last 800 years in terms of loss of life ( the highest deaths estimated 820,000 in 1556 at Shen-shu, China and the next 700,000 in 1976 at T'ang-shan, China). The Assam Earthquake of June 12,1897 is one of the 10-graetest quakes occurred with a magnitude of 8.7 on the Richter scale and an intensity of VII on the Modified Mercalli Scale that caused a damage to the tune of US $25 million. The Bihar-Nepal Earthquake of January 15, 1934 recorded magnitude 8.1 and an Intensity X with a damage to the tune of US $ 25 million and estimated death toll of about 10,000. The Chittagong Earthquake of April 2, 1762 recorded an Intensity of VIII on the Modified Mercalli Scale and a damage of US $5m. The Bengal Earthquake, Manikganj of July 14, 1885 recorded a considerable damage. The Srimangal Earthquake of July 8,1918 occurred with magnitude 7.6 and recorded damage of more than US $1.0m. Realising the earthquake hazards and its impact on national economy, Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB) took initiative in 1988 for a geological investigation on earthquakes and the potential hazards of their recurrence. In April 1989 Dr Darell G Herd of US Geological Survey along with representatives of GSB carried out a geological investigation to determine the tectonic origin of the Assam Earthquake of June 12, 1897 on the Dauki fault. A project titled "Detailed geological mapping for coal and other mineral exploration and Neotectonic study related to natural hazards" was initiated also for identification of major geological features for Earthquake Hazard Reduction Programme. Provision to install micro-seismic equipment was kept to collect seismic data of even smaller than magnitude 3.4 for neotectonic study. A network of modern, wide frequency ,digital seismographic stations at Sylhet, Cox's Bazar ( alternately Chittagong), Mongla (alternately Khulna) and Rangpur would provide an accurate location (within several kilometers) for most earthquake events including even of smaller magnitude of 2 to 3 for preparation of micro-seismic map of Bangladesh. During the 1897 quake, an area of more than 300,000 square km covering Bangladesh, India, Bhutan and western Mynmar was severely shaken. The fault origin of the 1897 Assam Earthquake may have originated on the Dauki fault running east-west along India (Assam)-Bangladesh (greater Mymensingh and Sylhet) border. Several other potential areas of geological features and elements are Dhaka-Srimangal lineament, the Tista lineament, the Atrai lineament, the Brahmaputra-Jamuna lineament, the Bogra fault(?), the Mymensingh lineament , the Tangail scarp, the Chittagong fault identified from interpretation of satellite imagery by GSB. Neotectonic study on such potential areas may be carried out to collect data on paleoseismology for Earthquake Risk Assessment Map by identifying active faults, fault scarps by detailed trench investigations, searching river banks, stream channels, irrigation ditches and excavations in flood plain materials for geological evidence of multiple liquefaction events and sand blows. With such realisation on one hand and observation of the rapid growth of high-rise building and population, industrial establishments and commercial activities on the other, in the capital city Dhaka and the port city Chittagong, a report entitled, "Natural Hazards in Bangladesh: Earthquakes" was prepared following the Chittagong earthquake of November 21, 1997 for awareness of the policymakers as well as the professional community. Considering the nature and extent of the earthquakes' threat or their recurrence, a strict compliance of the existing Building Code (which is not in force in Bangladesh) was suggested to build suitable engineered structures to minimise hazards. The Chittagong Earthquake of July 27, 2003 occurred with a magnitude of 5.6 on Richter scale. From press repots, we observed that a crack was developed in Borkal area that called for detailed geological study, the nature and extent, slip rate and identification of earthquake features like sand boils, liquefaction, landslides etc. The 10-km crack is the rupture length of the fault segment produced by the Borkal Earthquake. This is a closely mimicked surface feature of the 1983 Borah Peak, Idaho, Earthquake (OJT 1989 under the supervision of Anthony J. Crone, USGS, Denver). Tremors in Chittagong and a small-scale tsunami (a long ocean wave produced by movement of sea floor following an earthquake) in Andaman sea on August 11, 2003 reveal the evidences of sea floor spreading and plate tectonic activated in the region.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
Frequency, the nature and extent of the past earthquakes and recurrence of its behaviour suggest that a big earthquake event in Bangladesh may cause worst catastrophy, potentially more severe than that of the Calcutta Earthquake of October 1, 1737 when about 300,000 lost their life. Earthquake is inevitable in the regions of seismic belt, but modern experiences with earthquakes in populated areas like the cities reveal the fact that properly designed engineered structures and constructed facilities can withstand even large earthquakes. So ensuring that appropriate engineering design and material standards keeping pace with sensible use of land and event prediction can thus serve effectively in reducing the loss of life and property in the event of a big earthquake. M. Muminullah is retired Director of Geological Survey of Bangladesh Is Bangladesh vulnerable to earthquakes? Mir Fazlul Karim There are some valid questions: Is Bangladesh vulnerable to earthquakes? Should we be concerned about an earthquake when occurrences of earthquake damages are not so significant? The country faces so many day-to-day problems related to environment, industrial pollution, traffic, water and power shortage, and annual calamities such as flood, drought, cyclone and tidal bore. Can we afford to ignore earthquake hazards? Earthquakes are the detectable shaking of the earth's surface resulting from seismic waves generated by a sudden release of energy from inside the earth. Any landmass which has experienced natural ground shaking in the past is vulnerable to earthquake risk and thus liable to earthquake hazard. A severe earthquake can bring devastation to the economy of the country and we cannot ignore potential danger of earthquakes. Bangladesh: A geological location for earthquakes The geological structures in and around Bangladesh are capable of accumulating tectonic strain. These structures have released enough energy to produce destructive shakes in the past. Fortunately, the frequency of large earthquakes in and around the country is less than in other earthquake-prone regions of the world, though sometimes the lone national seismic observatory station at Chittagong measures a relatively high frequency of low magnitude shakes. Bangladesh, along with its neighboring counties, shared the experience of extraordinary ground shaking due to an earthquake of magnitude 8.7 which is widely known as "The Great Indian Earthquake." The earthquake occurred due to a vertical displacement along the Dauki Fault located near the north-east international boundary between Bangladesh and India. The earthquake caused about 20m of pop-up of the Shillong Massive within a few seconds, and debris were blown even miles away from the epicenter area. A similar strong and extraordinary earthquake of magnitude 7.5 occurred in Bhuj on January 26, 2001, damaging many urban areas of Gujarat and killing an estimated 25,000 people. Scientists consider these as rare earthquakes, but this type of earthquake could be extremely devastating in the peripheries of the Indian peninsula. Bangladesh occupies a greater part of the Bengal basin. It is located in the eastern extremity of the peninsula and the Kutch basin in the western extremity is a mirror image of the Bengal basin. The regional geological structures from south to north at both the eastern and western extremities postulate a geometrical symmetry that would be receptive to similar tectonic behaviour in terms of stress distribution (except for some local differential characteristics). Considering such a geological setting, Bangladesh could be a receptive place for extraordinary earthquakes. The rapidly growing urban centers increase the susceptibility of earthquake damage Generally, unplanned and populous townships are always vulnerable to earthquake hazard or damages. Bangladesh is a densely populated country. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were only 48 urban centers in the country and at present there are 491 including the densely populated cities and growth centers. A rapid change in infrastructure development has resulted in significant changes in housing pattern and transportation, sewerage, water supply, waste disposal system and communication network. All development has taken place in a very short time. The planners and city managers could not keep pace for regulating the government's planned efforts in


Earthquake in Bangladesh
the face of such rapid development. The lack of planned development puts the cities and growth centers in a vulnerable situation for larger earthquake damages. The experts foresee the most deadly future for Dhaka mega-city in the event of an earthquake here. Prediction of ground conditions The geology of Bangladesh is complex due to the presence of about 100m to 1000m (30,000ft) of sedimentary deposits over the basement rock of Indian plate. More than 80% of the country is covered by soft sediments (soil) or holocene deposits with unpredictable changes in the upper 100m of deposits, having considerable variations in the constituent geological materials and geotechnical properties. The geological map of the country indicates that the upper 10m of sediments in about 60% of the land area is susceptible to liquefaction during earthquake, making the ground vulnerable to immediate shear failure. More effort is needed for building up earthquake hazard awareness As the frequency of earthquakes is low in Bangladesh, the people and government are not clearly aware of earthquake devastation and we can not afford any experiment with it. Building up of public awareness could be the first and essential step towards preparedness for reduction of earthquake damages. It is necessary to remember the alarming Dhaka Earthquake 2001, when strong tremors were felt in the city and many people rushed out of their homes and offices in panic. 100 prison inmates were hurt in a stampede at the Dhaka Central Jail. What shall we do? The country has had many damaging earthquakes in the past and is placed in a high seismic zone in the Global Seismic Hazard Map. We have not investigated the source structures, but due to its complex geological setting, Bangladesh is not capable of sustaining the strong shaking produced in the Himalaya and Meghalaya source area. Unfortunately, many of the infrastructures and buildings in Bangladesh may not meet BNBC standards and may be considered vulnerable from seismic safety viewpoint. Generally earthquake damages are irreparable. If we consider the potentiality of earthquake disaster, we may not be able to ignore this extraordinary geological hazard. We are at the early stage of possible earthquake hazard assessment and cannot expect any overnight understanding of earthquake vulnerability of the country. But steps can be taken to reduce the losses and damages by implementation of Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) in the construction practice, identification of appropriate subsurface geology, determining the right type of architectural setting and engineering design of both foundation and superstructures, development of fire safety options, keeping open spaces for rescue operations, and other such measures. At least we need an plan of action. There is an urgent need for reasonable seismic risk assessment of the country. It is a multidisciplinary task and includes technical training, institutional development, development of technical manuals, legal and enforcement aspects, and public awareness programmes. Mir Fazlul Karim is Director, Geological Survey of Bangladesh. Experts repeat call for quake preparedness City Correspondent Experts predict the deaths of at least 96,000 people, injuries of 1,27,000 and the collapse of 28 percent of the existing buildings if a moderate earthquake hits the city. They told a workshop the direct loss would be worth a billion dollars in case of an earthquake of medium intensity. Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) and Bangladesh Earthquake Society (BES) jointly organised the workshop on "Earthquake Preparedness and Management" last week to create awareness on earthquakes, sponsored jointly by Care Bangladesh and USAID. Speaking as the chief guest, President of BES Jamilur Reza Chowdhury said according to seismic zoning map of Bangladesh, Dhaka comes under the highly earthquake prone zone 2. He said the consequences of earthquakes would be disastrous, as Dhaka's population is at least 10 million.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
Mohammed Abu Sadeque, sub-divisional engineer of Public Works Department (PWD), clarified the reasons and effects of earthquake in his presentation. He quoted scientists anticipate a severe earthquake in Bangladesh. "The Indo-Australian Tectonic Plate on which Bangladesh is situated is moving northward. However, the movement had stopped for the last hundred years storing 'strain energy' under the outer shell of the earth. This will cause a big earthquake in Bangladesh at any moment," he said. Sadeque said there may be fissures on the ground and apart from complete damage, buildings may have settlements, tilts or cracks as effects of an earthquake. Fire is another problem that follows earthquakes. "Dhaka is more likely to have fire hazards during earthquakes as its gas supply is piped," he said. 'Liquefaction' was highlighted in Sadeque's presentation as a major factor left by earthquake where the soil becomes soft like quicksand and unable to hold any structure. However, Dr Mehdi Ahmed Ansary, secretary general of BES, said in presentation that a comparatively less chance of 'Liquefaction' exists in Dhaka. "Only 10 per cent of ground in Dhaka may suffer from it as underground water level is gradually decreasing," he said. The experts said proper earthquake proof construction is necessary for the safety of city dwellers. They said some construction firms try to convince people saying their buildings can bear an earthquake measured 7 or 8 on the Richter Scale. Dr. Ansary added that an earthquake measuring 1 on Richter scale might get amplified into 2.5 because of the soil quality of a particular area. He also said lack of maintenance of old buildings is posing a threat to city dwellers. "I have seen some buildings in old town, built on narrow columns with no foundation," said Dr. Ansary. "Imagine the plight of 20 lakh residents, if an earthquake takes place," he said. Speakers said that in most cases an old building with no earthquake precaution could be made earthquake resistant by retrofitting. "It may cost 10 to 15 percent of the total construction cost of the building," said Abu Sadeque. Experts said 90 percent of the city dwellers would be safe if buildings were constructed to meet the earthquake consequences. They stressed for a disaster management system for the other 10 percent. They added there should be stringent laws compelling builders to follow the earthquake code. Syed Ashraful Alam, Md. Morshed and Mashiur R. Khandekar also made presentations. Tapan Kumar Das Gupta, DCC's chief town planner and Habibur Rahman, chief executive officer, also spoke.

Earthquake hazard : Dhaka city perspective
Dr. Aftab Alam Khan A sudden, transient motion or trembling in the earth's crust, resulting from the propagation of seismic waves caused by faulting of the rocks either at shallow and/or deeper depths is known as earthquake. The motion is caused by the quick release of slowly accumulated energy in the form of seismic waves. The release of accumulated energy may occur at any depth and time but the intensity of damage is directly proportional to the movement on a fault, which is a thin zone, both at vertical and horizontal plains, of crushed rock between two blocks of rock. A fault can range in length from a few centimeters to hundreds of kilometers. The larger the fault length, the larger the energy release by fault movements. The ground shaking and the radiated seismic energy are caused most commonly by sudden slip on a fault, or other sudden stress changes in the Earth. Sudden break within the upper layers of the earth, sometimes breaking the surface, resulting in the vibration of the ground, where strong enough will cause the collapse of buildings and destruction of life and property. Based on long term historical records, about 18 major earthquakes (7.0 - 7.9 on the Richter scale) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) are expected in any given year globally.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
Any physical phenomenon associated with an earthquake that may produce adverse effects on human activities is termed as earthquake hazard. This includes surface faulting, ground shaking, landslides, liquefaction, tectonic deformation, tsunami, and their effects on land use, man-made structures, and socio-economic systems. A commonly used restricted definition of earthquake hazard is the probability of occurrence of a specified level of ground shaking in a specified period of time. Similarly, earthquake risk is the expected (or probable) life loss, injury, or building damage that will happen, given the probability of earthquake hazard. Earthquake risk and earthquake hazard are occasionally used interchangeably. Bangladesh, by and large, is seismically active. The occurrence of earthquakes with magnitude averaging around 5 in Richter scale is quite frequent especially in its eastern region. Although, Dhaka has not been experienced with any moderate to large earthquake in historical past, even then the earthquake of December 19, 2001 with magnitude of 4.5 and focal depth of 10 km located very close to Dhaka is certainly an indication of its earthquake source and vulnerability. In addition, micro-seismicity data also supports the existence of at least four earthquake source points in and around Dhaka. The earthquake disaster risk index has placed Dhaka among the 20 most vulnerable cities in the world. Dhaka with its population of around 13 million and enormous poorly constructed and dilapidated structures signifies extremely vulnerable conditions for massive loss of lives and property in the event of a moderately large earthquake. The recently measured plate motions at six different sites of Bangladesh including Dhaka; (the research being jointly conducted by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, USA and the Department of Geology, Dhaka University) clearly demonstrate that Dhaka is moving 30.6 mm/year in the direction northeast. Further, the rate of strain accumulation is relatively high in and around Dhaka. It may precipitate in an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 in the event of the release of accumulated strain. The shallow subsurface of Dhaka is also characterized by number of faults of variable dimensions. These faults are vulnerable to motion where these coincide with the zones of high particle velocity. The coincidence of the zones of high particle velocity with the location of faults suggests that the western part of Dhaka city from Mirpur-Kalyanpur to Pagla along Buriganga river and the eastern part of Dhaka city from Uttar Khan-Badda to Demra along Balu river has emerged as high risk zone. The peak ground acceleration in these areas has been calculated ranging between 0.3 to 0.35 if an earthquake of magnitude 5.6 occurs in and around Dhaka city. The resonant length in these areas suggests an optimal height beyond five stories; additional seismic factor needs to be introduced in addition to general seismic factor which is introduced based on seismic factors of the site specifically for earthquake resistant building code. The entire Dhaka megacity has been looked upon from earthquake hazard point of view. It has been divided into four zones of earthquake hazard vulnerability ranging between very high risks and low risk. Earthquake cannot be prevented. But certainly it is high time to be much more concerned about the probable impending earthquake in order to minimise the loss of lives and property in national interest. On the basis of the above facts, we should develop earthquake monitoring network in Bangladesh immediately. It is of prime importance to set a national institute of earthquake research to develop high skilled manpower that can perform the task for earthquake risk assessment and management. We should remember that one earthquake of moderate intensity would kill thousands of people and destroy enormous national property. Death is certain for all human beings but painful death is not desirable. Dr. Aftab Alam Khan, Professor, Geology Department, Dhaka University is Vice President, Bangladesh Earthquake Society (BES

Earthquake risk in Bangladesh: Facing the reality
Dr. Tahmeed M. Al-Hussaini Adeveloper in Dhaka may claim that his building can withstand a Magnitude 8 (Richter scale) earthquake. This statement can be misleading, because in Dhaka we do not have to design our buildings for such large earthquake. The known earthquake sources that can produce large earthquakes are far away from Dhaka. In fact, earthquake resistant building design at a particular place is based on specified ground shaking (known as intensity) for that location and not on earthquake magnitude. It is important to understand the difference between these basic terms used for describing the strength and effect of earthquakes. Magnitude is a measure of the strength of an earthquake or strain energy released by it, which can be determined from seismographic recordings. There are different scales of they are based on different kinds of measurements and estimation. Earthquake magnitudes are expressed by a


Earthquake in Bangladesh
number, which is usually in the range of 2 to 10. The different scales usually differ by some small amount, however the variation is larger at large magnitudes. An increase of one unit of magnitude (for example, from 4.6 to 5.6) represents approximately a 30-fold increase in the energy released. Most of the earthquakes occur along plate boundaries of the earth. Damage can be caused by magnitudes greater than about 5, while magnitude greater than about 7 can cause lot of destruction. As examples of big losses during relatively moderate earthquakes, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in 1960 killed around 12,000 people in Morocco and more recently a magnitude 6.3 earthquake in 1993 killed 30,000 people in India and caused US $ 80 million in losses. Classification of earthquakes based on magnitude and its average annual occurrence in the world is presented in the table below: Description Magnitude Number of events per year        Great 8 and higher 1 Major 7 - 7.9 17 Strong 6 - 6.9 134 Moderate 5 - 5.9 1319 Light 4 - 4.9 13,000 (estimated) Minor 3 - 3.9 130,000 (estimated) Very Minor 2 - 2.9 1,300,000

The effect and damage at a place not only depends on the magnitude of the earthquake but also on the distance from the earthquake source and the local soil conditions. The effectmagnitude, of any earthquake diminishes with distance. Intensity is used to represent the effects and damage. The most commonly used intensity scale is the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) Scale, which varies from I (lowest) to XII Recently we have witnessed with horror how destructive and devastating earthquakes can be in the South and South-East Asian region. The most recent 26 December 2004 magnitude 9.0 Sumatra earthquake originating under the sea generated a tsunami in the ocean that destroyed coastal areas in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Maldives claiming more than 150,000 liv(most severe). It is therefore necessary to identify first the locations and magnitudes of probable earthquakes and secondly, the damage intensity at a place due to those earthquakes. Earthquake risk at a place is the expected consequences of future seismic events, it therefore depends on the estimated earthquake This tsunami, which was very powerful, also caused damage to Eastern Africa, thousands of(estimated) km away. Although Bangladesh was fortunate to be spared from the devastation this time, the risk of tsunami is there and this needs to be further investigated. The 2001 Bhuj earthquake in India has shown to us that inappropriate construction technology may lead to high casualty levels even for moderate ground shaking. A peak ground acceleration of 0.11g (g is the acceleration due to gravity) caused the collapse/serious damage of numerous mid to high-rise buildings in Ahmedabad, a city around 240 km away from the epicenter of M=7.7 Bhuj earthquake. Note that according to the Bangladesh Building Code, the major cities of Dhaka and Chittagong can be subjected to ground motion reaching higher values (0.15g), while Sylhet, Mymensingh, Rangpur may be subjected to a ground motion of 0.25g. Bangladesh, being located close to the plate margins of Indian and Eurasian plates, is susceptible to earthquakes. The collision of the Indian plate moving northward with the Eurasian plate is the cause of frequent earthquakes in the region comprising Bangladesh and neighbouring India, Nepal and Myanmar. Historically Bangladesh has been affected by five earthquakes of large magnitude (M) greater than 7.0 (Richter scale) during the 61 year period from 1869 to 1930. Among them, the mighty 8+ magnitude 1897 Great Indian earthquake in Shillong, Assam had an epicentral distance of about 230 km from Dhaka. That earthquake caused extensive damages to masonry buildings in many parts of Bangladesh including Dhaka. The 1885 Bengal earthquake (M=7.0, 170 km from Dhaka) and 1918 Srimongal earthquake (M=7.6, 150 km from Dhaka) had their epicentres within Bangladesh, they caused considerable damage locally. Two great (M>8) earthquakes occurred in Bihar in 1934 and in Assam in 1950, but they were too far to cause any damage in Bangladesh. It should be noted that large earthquakes in the region have not been occurring for quite a long time (around 75 years) and hence, the possibility of a major earthquake occurring soon is quite high. According to Prof. Bruce Bolt of University of California at Berkeley, a world renowned seismologist, Bangladesh can be affected by large magnitude earthquakes generated in four tectonic zones, as shown in the following table:


Earthquake in Bangladesh
The present generation of people in Bangladesh hasn't witnessed any major earthquake. As a result the population has been generally complacent about the risk of earthquakes. During the last seven or eight years, the occurrence and damage caused by some earthquakes (magnitude between 4 and 6) inside the country or near the country's border, has raised the awareness among the general people and the government as well. The damage has been mainly restricted to rural areas or towns near the epicentre, but there has been some instances of damage in urban areas 50 to 100 km away. The writer had the opportunity to visit Chittagong along with his departmental colleague Dr. M.A. Ansary to see the earthquake induced damages following three local earthquakes. Some of the photographs taken by the writer are presented which show the damage caused by these earthquakes. Fig.1 shows the collapse of an under-construction reinforced concrete frame building that killed several people in the port city of Chittagong due to the Nov. 21, 1997 magnitude 6.0 earthquake at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. This is a typical example of faulty design and construction, collapse occurring at a very low level of shaking, about 100 km from the epicenter of the earthquake. This earthquake also caused some cracks in some buildings and walls in the Chittagong and Bandarban region, and collapse of a potion of an underconstruction earthen dam. The July 22, 1999 magnitude 5.1 earthquake with its epicenter very near the island of Moheshkhali, off the coast of the tourist spot of Cox's Bazar, caused extensive damage and collapse of rural mud-walled houses. This earthquake exposed the vulnerability of mud-walled houses, which is quite common in many parts of rural Bangladesh. Cracks and spalling of plaster were observed in some buildings. Concrete column of a cyclone shelter was severely damaged (Fig.2). Soon after the July 27, 2003 magnitude 5.6 Barkal-Rangamati earthquake, the writer visited Rangamati and the badly affected village of Kolabunia, Barkal Upazilla, which is about one and half hour journey by speed boat from Rangamati. Brick masonry buildings of Kolabunia suffered severe damage, brick boundary wall collapsed, and several mud-walled houses were subjected to severe damage to partial collapse of its walls. Large crack developed for a long distance along the river, indicative of soil movement toward the river. Slumping of part of the river bank also occurred at one place. Local people reported emission of bubbles in the river during an aftershock Fig.3 shows a long school building in Rangamati that developed crack in its wall, while Figs.4 to 6 present damage in Kolabunia. In Chittagong city, about 90 km away from the epicenter, the earthquake caused ground settlement and cracks (Fig.7) in the Public Library building and damaged an electric transformer. In addition, minor earthquakes are frequently occurring in the Chittagong area causing a good deal of anxiety among the people there. Dhaka, located in the central region of Bangladesh, could be affected by any of the four earthquake source zones, presented earlier. Another point of major concern is that there are active faults near the city also. This was realized during the 19 Decembr 2001 magnitude 4+ Dhaka earthquake that caused panic among many city residents. The epicenter was very close to Dhaka city. Frightened people in several high rise buildings rushed down the stairs, as they felt considerable shaking in the upper floors. The location of a probable earthquake source so near Dhaka with the probable earthquake magnitude needs to be further investigated. The 1993 Bangladesh National Building Code provides guidelines for earthquake resistant design. The code provides a seismic zoning map which divides Bangladesh into three seismic zones: The north-northeast potion which includes Sylhet, Mymensingh, Bogra, Rangpur falls in the zone "liable to severe damage" (0.25g motion). The middle and southeast portion which includes Dinajpur, Sirajganj, Naogaon, Dhaka, Feni, Chittagong fall in the zone “liable to moderate damage" (0.15g motion). The rest of the country in the south-west falls in the zone “liable to slight damage" (0.75g motion). All the above discussions were intended to show that we are, indeed, living with the possibility of a major earthquake affecting major cities of Bangladesh. This may occur at any time. Next we need to think about the extent of damage likely for such earthquakes. The urban areas in Bangladesh have developed in a fast pace to accommodate the increasing population resulting in extensive construction of multi-storied buildings. In the absence of legal enforcement of the building code in the country and lack of earthquake awareness in the country, many multistoried buildings have been constructed without proper earthquake consideration. The various factors contributing to the earthquake risk in the urban and rural areas of Bangladesh may be summarized below:
- Absence of earthquake - Awareness. - High population density and construction lacking earthquake resistant design - Absence of legal enforcement of building code and its seismic design provisions - Poor quality of construction materials and improper construction method - Economic limitations - Possibility of fire outbreaks due to rupture of gas pipelines or electric short-circuit during an earthquake and inadequate fire fighting facilities


Earthquake in Bangladesh
- Inadequate road width and space between buildings preventing rescue operations and firefighting vehicles to reach certain areas. - Inadequate exit (at the same time) for the occupants of a building during an emergency. - Lack of facilities (rescue equipment, trained staff, medical personnel, medical facilities) and preparedness for emergency response and recovery operations following an earthquake. - Lack of earthquake resistant design of life line facilities which include power plants, power stations, bridges, communication control stations, gas and water supply stations etc.

The buildings in Dhaka city may be broadly classified into two groups: unreinforced brick masonry (URM) buildings and reinforced concrete frame (RCF) buildings. URM buildings have been observed to behave poorly during earthquakes and they can be more dangerous if they are 4 or more stories high, or built on 5 inch walls, which is not uncommon in Dhaka. RCF construction can also pose equivalent danger if earthquake resistant design provisions are not followed, this has been amply demonstrated in recent earthquakes of Bhuj and Izmit. Economic reasons, lack of quality control in construction and use of poor quality of materials all contribute to the high vulnerability of buildings. A recent building survey, funded by Bangladesh Ministry of Science and Technology research grant, in parts of Sutrapur, Lalbagh and West Dhanmondi reveals concentration of multi-storied URM buildings in the older part of the city. While the percentage of URM buildings in Sutrapur area of the old city was found to be around 65%, the same in the relatively new West Dhanmondi was found to be around 42%. Using Chinese building damage data, the writer has estimated that an intensity VIII earthquake could result in complete or partial collapse of more than 5% and serious damage to around 15% buildings. Intensity VIII corresponds roughly to the ground motion of 0.15g assigned to Dhaka city in the Building Code. This is a preliminary rough estimate, more detailed survey and analysis is necessary for reliable damage and loss estimation. Foundation problems such as earthquake induced ground settlement, liquefaction of loose sandy deposits under water or amplification of ground motion in certain soft soil areas or filled up areas of the city may also substantially increase the damage of buildings. Local soil effects can thus lead to intensity greater than VIII in certain areas of the city causing more damage. Earthquake Disaster Mitigation Earthquakes cannot be prevented, but its damage can be reduced with suitable measures. While Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success in disaster management for frequently occurring hazards such as cyclone, tornado and floods, it is at an infant stage with regard to earthquakes. We have a long way to go, but at least in the past few years, some encouraging activities have started and are continuing with both individual and institutional efforts. The Government has also stressed the importance for developing a national earthquake management system and has taken steps in this regard. The Department of Civil Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) has been involved in earthquake engineering education, research and consultancy services for several years. The Department took the lead role in the preparation of the 1993 national building code which included a new seismic zoning map and earthquake resistant design provisions. The department proposed the formation of a national centre for earthquake engineering at BUET and subsequently got USAID funding for a link project with Virginia Tech, USA. BUET has also been largely involved in the formation of Bangladesh Earthquake Society (BES) in 2002. The first election of the executive body of BES was held in 2003. BES is a multi-disciplinary national professional society dedicated to the cause of preparing the nation to face the threat of possible earthquakes. The organization is expected to create a bridge linking different sections of the people, working together with the government, to achieve a common goal of reducing the earthquake risk. BES, in collaboration with the Ministry of Food, Disaster Management and Relief (MFDMR) and the Disaster Management Bureau (DMB) has already organized several seminars. Earthquake research centers or groups have been formed at several universities, what is needed next is recognition of these groups and collaboration among different groups and individuals. Modern digital seismic instruments, recently installed, are being operated by BUET and Dhaka University, with government and foreign funding. Non-governmental organizations and international organizations are also participating in this effort. BES is publishing a newsletter that gives information on recent activities, earthquake news and articles of interest. The society is also aiming to develop a website which would be an information resource for interested people. BES will also publish relevant manuals or books. For earthquake disaster mitigation, both professional and government solution is needed. Professional solution will be provided by engineers, architects, planners, geologists on technical aspects and social scientists, non-governmental organizations and mass media on social aspects. In the professional solution, civil engineers have the leading role to play, since it is the collapse of civil engineering structures that result in earthquake disasters. For the estimation of probable ground motion, engineers and geologists should work together. Financial institutions, builders and industrialists would be required to support the professional solution. Government solution includes


Earthquake in Bangladesh
the involvement of the concerned ministries and government or semi-government agencies in implementing the professional solution through policy making and policy enforcement. It needs to be clearly determined who would have regulatory jurisdiction over what. For earthquake disaster mitigation, the following measures should be given top priority: Increase public awareness about earthquakes through mass media, education (at school), training, earthquake drills, publications etc. Refined assessment of probable ground motion and identifying local soil effects Reliable assessment of probable damage to buildings and other structures. Updating of the building code Legal enforcement of building code. Building insurance to promote earthquake resistant construction. Seismic strengthening of critical structures and facilities. Developing laboratory and testing facilities for research. Developing low-cost seismic strengthening techniques so that individual house owners are encouraged to adopt them. Training of engineers, planners, architects and construction workers. Automatic safety shutdown system for gas and electricity during a major earthquake. Developing facilities for post earthquake rescue and recovery. Urban (including transport) planning of the city to mitigate earthquake effects. Implementation of national earthquake disaster management plan involving various professionals, officials and volunteers. Earthquake Tips New Construction - Strengthening Here are some useful tips for new construction and strengthening of existing buildings. Buildings should be designed by a competent engineer following the 1993 Bangladesh National Building Code. Earthquake resistant design involves the use of steel which is a ductile material. It is not economically possible to design a building to resist the extreme earthquake forces without some damage. The building code allows some damage at preferred locations but prevents building collapse and provides safety to life and property. Steel gives the building necessary properties to resist collapse if they are provided at the correct locations of the structure. Structural elements that provide the earthquake resistance include concrete or masonry shear walls, concrete frame, braced frame, rigid floor system and proper connections between them. Proper detailing of the steel reinforcements at critical locations of the building structure is of great significance. ACI (American Concrete Institute) code gives seismic design detailing requirements for reinforced concrete buildings. Other standard building codes such as IBC2000 may also be consulted. Strengthening of non-engineered buildings can be done following the IAEE (International Association for Earthquake Engineering) manual on Guidelines for Earthquake Resistant NonEngineered Construction. Certain building types are likely to be more susceptible to serious damage or collapse and thus require structural assessment for earthquakes by a competent engineer. Such buildings if not properly designed may need special strengthening measures. Some typical examples are given below:
- Old URM buildings with cracks in walls and roofs on timber beams. - URM buildings on 5 walls. - Multi-storied URM buildings with discontinuous lintel. - Multi-storied RCF building with open parking space on ground floor. Soft-story action or weak column-strong beam action should be prevented. - Multistoried buildings with large cantilever projections. - Multi-storied buildings of irregular (unsymmetrical) shape or having setbacks . - Buildings having mass eccentricity. Buildings with flat plates. Buildings having elevated water tanks or swimming pool on roof top. Adjacent multi-storied buildings with little gap, hence possibility of pounding. Slender high rise buildings. Buildings on soft soil (fill material).

When an Earthquake occurs: During an earthquake, people are injured or killed by falling plaster, collapsing walls, roofs or falling of heavy objects. Collapsing buildings and vibrations can cause short circuits and electric fires. Lighted gas or stoves may also cause fires. This creates panic and confusion.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
Do's and Don'ts during an Earthquake If you are indoors: - Stay calm. - If you are in the ground floor and you can get out very quickly (5-10 secs), rush outside to an open space away from buildings or electric posts. Usually earthquake shaking lasts less than a minute. - If you do not have time to go outside, stay at selected places inside your buildings which are relatively stronger against earthquakes such as near strong columns or near closely spaced walls in both directions. Stay away from outer verandah, balconies, cantilever projections, outer walls, doors and windows. - Get under a table or a sturdy cot so that you are not hurt by falling objects from above. - Stay away from glass windows, almirahs, showcases, mirrors etc. - Stay away from falling plaster, bricks or stones. - Do not rush towards broken or jammed doors or staircase. If you are outdoors: - Move to nearby open space. - Keep away from tall chimneys, buildings, balconies and other projections. - Be careful, hoardings or lamps in the street may fall on you. Do's and Don'ts following an Earthquake - Switch off all electrical appliances such as refrigerator, TV. - Turn off the gas. - A battery operated radio will help you to get important messages. - Wear shoes to protect your feet. - Do not crowd around damaged areas or buildings. - Keep the streets clear for emergency services. - Do not waste water. - Use first aid if someone is hurt. Do not move seriously hurt people. Wait for medical help to arrive. - If possible, assist children, old and disabled persons and the sick. - Be prepared for more shocks which always follow a major earthquake. Concluding Remarks Earthquakes pose a gigantic threat to the economy and well being of this country. While thousands of buildings may collapse in the cities, serious casualties could be in tens of thousands. Seismic risks should be correctly assessed and subsequently mitigated to the extent feasible. A comprehensive and well-coordinated earthquake disaster mitigation plan for the urban as well as rural areas should be developed without further delay and implemented on a priority basis with available resources. Earthquake engineering research centres should be promoted to be focal points for providing expert technical guidance to the country for earthquake disaster mitigation. Such centres can also provide effective education and training of related professionals. Building codes need to be updated and improved. Effective interaction and dialogue between the technical professionals and the government authorities should be ensured. Success of earthquake disaster mitigation efforts will depend on the blending of technical and political solutions into best practices for the reduction of unacceptable risk and sustainable development. Priorities should be established for strengthening the most critical structures and lifeline facilities. The participation of various government, non-government and voluntary organizations, academic institutions, community leadership and media should be encouraged and integrated for maximum benefit. The author is Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, BUET and Editor, Bangladesh Earthquake Societ


Earthquake in Bangladesh

The 1885 Bengal Earthquake
How prepared are we for any recurrence? Dr. Aftab Alam Khan The 1885 Bengal Earthquake, also known as Manikganj Earthquake, is one of the major earthquakes triggered in the historical past. It is not only the 1885 Bengal Earthquake, the 1762 Bengal-Arakan Earthquake located somewhere in Chittagong hill tracts and the 1918 Earthquake located near Srimongal / Kishoreganj (?) are the two other major earthquakes of great concern in Bangladesh. In addition, the well familiar 1897 Great Assam Earthquake that devastated almost entire Bangladesh is categorized as the great earthquake due to its >8 magnitude on Richter scale. However, the 1885 Bengal Earthquake with its possible epicenter near Kudalia in Saturia (Manikganj) and magnitude between 7 and 8 is of great concern for a megacity like Dhaka. The earthquake damage and consequent casualty risk of Dhaka are very high because of its very high population of about 13 million and large percentage of unplanned buildings and structures. The earthquake disaster risk index (EDRI) for Dhaka stands top among the twenty high risk cities in the world. The earthquake of 19 December 2001 with its location 23.6o N 90.4o E, magnitude 4.5 - 4.8, and focal depth 10 km and couple of other low magnitude earthquakes in the mid seventies located near Dhaka possibly are the knocking alarm for Dhaka city. Roger Bilham and Philip England, in their paper published in the Nature science magazine, opined that 1897 Great Assam Earthquake constitutes a significant seismic threat to nearby densely populated regions of Bangladesh and to the very large city of Dhaka. My investigation and assessment suggests that 1885 Bengal Earthquake projects much greater threat to metropolis Dhaka. The return period calculation suggests that 1885 Bengal earthquake is likely to recur by 2015 having return-period character of 130 years. John W. Whitney of USGS opined that 7 large or 1 great earthquake is likely to occur in every 135 years in and around "eastern seismic belt" of the Indian plate. Characterising 1885 Bengal Earthquake as a major one there stands a high probability for its recurrence between 2015 and 2020. The field investigations exhibit an average fault displacement of 7 m occurred along several neo-faults aligned with Dhaleshwari and Buriganga rivers. These active faults have potentials for generating seismic energy of magnitude as high as 7.5. In addition, several local shallow faults and high amplified liquefiable zones within Dhaka city where large number of buildings and structures are constructed without following standard building codes are certainly in a very high stake of earthquake disaster risk. The building collapse at Sakhari Bazar and Savar and building tilt at couple of localities in Dhaka city in recent times indicate its vulnerability to earthquake damage. The classic example of ignorance and negligence has been set due to Savar event where collapse of 9-storey large garments factory cost hundreds of lives and caused considerable property damage without an earthquake. It is simply unimaginable what a magnitude of loss of lives and property would occur in the sites characterising similar subsurface conditions during an earthquake. Although, the present article is not written for describing the possible reasons of Savar event, but temptations could not be resisted as to the inquisitive minds tried to explore the possible reasons. It is learnt from various news paper reports and seminars what some survived persons expressed pertaining to the building collapse. Among the information, the notable are, a) there was no boiler explosion, b) the heavy machinery used to shake entire building when started, and c) more importantly the entire building used to tremble when high horse power pumps were used to abstract groundwater from subsurface. When these information are critically analysed there emerged certain conclusions: The structure was not built on the geologic basement which is commonly known as engineering bed rock. However, the engineering bed rock might be confused with the geologic bed rock if the same is situated over a buried channel characterised by channel fill materials. The shear strength of these channel fills is much less than the shear strength of the geologic bed rock. In addition, the buried channels are highly potential from groundwater resource point of view that continuously keeps the channel fill materials in saturated and wet condition. As a result, the ambient shear strength remains quite low. The second factor is the withdrawal of groundwater with large pumping capacity that had developed interim cone of depressions with downward pull of hydrostatic pressure towards the cone of depressions. As a result, the structure used to tremble during the pumping of groundwater. Hence, the shaking of the structure due to long time operation of heavy machineries and the trembling due to groundwater pumping had continuously weakened the base of the foundation and eventually the structure collapsed. A major buried river has been identified between Tongi fault in the south and the Nayarhat fault in the north. An appreciable horizontal off set has also been identified along Nayarhat fault. The area between such buried river and fault is an ideal site for


Earthquake in Bangladesh
structural collapse. Unless, such sites are definitely identified, the risk of structural failure would remain high. Coming back to the discussion on the recurrence of the 1885 Bengal Earthquake and the possible consequence in Dhaka city, it is high time to have subsurface imaging of the entire Dhaka city and identify the zones characterised by faults, gully-fills and buried channels. Unless this is done, the micro-zoning earthquake hazard map of this megacity is unlikely to be prepared. Until such hazard map for Dhaka city is prepared, the pre-disaster physical planning and earthquake damage risk reduction will remain at a tell-tale stage. Recurrence of an earthquake is not a fairy-tale rather it is an inherent character of each earthquake event of all magnitudes globally. Dr. Aftab Alam Khan is Professor, Department of Geology, University of Dhaka.

Seismic Microzonation of Dhaka City
Dr. Mehedi Ahmed Ansary The 2001 Gujarat earthquake in India, the 2003 Bam earthquake in Iran and the 2005 Muzafarrabad earthquake in Pakistan and India revealed the vulnerability of "non-earthquakeproof" cities and villages in Asia. In 1897, an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 caused serious damages to buildings in the north-eastern part of India (including Bangladesh) and 1542 people were killed. Recently, Bilham et al. (2001) pointed out that there is high possibility that a large earthquake will occur around the Himalayan region. The current population around this region is at least 50 times greater than the population of 1897 and cities like Chittagong, Dhaka, Kathmandu and Guwahati have populations exceeding several millions. It is a cause for great concern that the next great earthquake may occur in this region at any time. The findings of this study would benefit engineers, city planners, developers, emergency personnel, government officials, and anyone who may be concerned with the potential consequences of earthquakes in Dhaka. This may provide useful information regarding earthquake hazards for a given site, and should be an integral part of the whole process of economic and social development for the city. Methodology Seismic hazards due to local site effects such as soil amplification and liquefaction can be estimated by combining the available soil parameters with the current hazard models. Due to recent improvement in the availability and quality of GIS (Geographical Information System) technology the current research utilised GIS technology for seismic microzonation of Dhaka city. A soil database of 253 boreholes is developed in MS EXCELL. The soil data are used to develop site amplification and soil liquefaction potential assessment. Both of these site effects are integrated in GIS platform for combined hazard assessment. Three past historical earthquakes are used as scenario events namely the 1885 Bengal earthquake, the 1897 Great Indian earthquake and the 1918 Srimangal earthquake. Intensity values obtained for these events are calibrated against attenuation laws to check the applicability of the laws for this study. Using these laws, bedrock Peak Ground Acceleration (PGA) values are obtained. Finally, a bedrock PGA value for the scenario events is selected. PGA values are also converted into intensity values to integrate the effect of site amplification as well as liquefaction. Geology of the study area: Quaternary sediments consisting of deltaic and alluvial deposits of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers and their numerous tributaries underlie more than 80% of Bangladesh. According to the study of Morgan and McIntire (1959), there are two major areas of Pleistocene sediments, commonly known as Madhupur tract and Barind tract. The Madhupur block lies between the Jamuna and Old Brahmaputra rivers and 6 to 30m above the mean sea level. The current study area is situated on the southern tip of the Madhupur tract. Two characteristic units cover the city and its surroundings, i.e., the Madhupur clay of Pleistocene age and alluvial deposits of recent age. The Madhupur clay is the oldest sediment exposed in and around the city area. The alluvial deposits are characterised by flood plains, depression and abandoned channels. The geological map of Dhaka metropolitan area is presented in Figure 1. The subsurface sedimentary sequence, up to the explored depth of 300m, shows three distinct entities; one is the Madhupur clay formation of Pleistocene age and is characterized by reddish plastic clay with silt and very fine sand particles. This Madhupur clay formation uncomfortably overlies the Dupi Tila formation of Pleistocene age composed of medium to coarse yellowish brown sand and occasional gravel. The incised channels and depression within the city are floored by recent alluvial flood plain deposits and is further subdivided into lowland Alluvium and high land


Earthquake in Bangladesh
Alluvium (WASA 1991). Figure 2 shows North-south soil profile of Dhaka city along Uttarkhan-China Bangladesh Friendship Bridge (Sarker, 2004) Regional seismicity The major earthquakes that have affected Bangladesh since the middle of the last century are presented in Table 1. Soil data Necessary soil data was collected from different relevant sources of Dhaka City and compiled in a database using Microsoft Excel. A total of 253 boreholes with SPT data were collected from different organizations and used to study site amplification and soil liquefaction potential characteristics of municipality area. Generally for building construction, boring is done up to a depth of 50 ft only. Among the compiled database, 20 boreholes with SPT-N data up to a depth of 100 ft (30 m) were directly carried out by BUET for checking the authenticity of other collected data. Figure 3 shows borehole locations. Assessment of seismic hazard In the regional seismic loss estimation analysis it is considered necessary to determine the bedrock motion in the region. The most common method involves the use of an empirical attenuation relationship. These relationships communicate a given ground motion parameter in a region as function of the size and location of an earthquake event. To pick the most appropriate attenuation law for predicting rock motions, 1885 Bengal earthquake, 1897 Great Indian earthquake and 1918 Srimangal earthquake are considered. Distance versus PGA values for earthquakes is plotted on log-log paper. From isoseismal maps, the epicentral distances of different locations and their intensities are found. These intensities are converted into PGA by Trifunac and Brady (1975) equation and were plotted on preceding figures. It is found that McGuire (1978) equations follow the PGA trend of the study area. 1897 Great Indian Earthquake is selected as the scenario event which has a PGA value 0.12g (g=981 cm/s2) at bedrock level. Microtremor observations Microtremor observation was carried out at Dhaka city during 2002 by the author using equipment supplied by the University of Tokyo, Japan. All the measurement points are shown on the map in Figure 3. The equipment used was Tokyo Buttan Services GEODAS-10-24DS system connected to a triaxial accelerometer with a natural period of 1 second. In this experiment, the recording system operated continuously for about 6 minutes, with a sampling rate of 100 Hz. For the analysis of microtremors, base line corrections were done and then a Butterworth band pass filter (0.40 to 25 Hz) was applied to the data. From the processed data sixteen 2048 point windows were selected and Fourier Spectra for NS, EW and UD components were computed with a Parzen window. Then the mean curve for sixteen spectra both for NS and EW components were calculated. Finally, the Nakamura spectral ratio was obtained as follows: HV = (√NS √EW) / UD Microtremor H/V ratios versus numerical transfer functions To validate the results obtained from microtremor observations, H/V spectral ratios were compared with the transfer functions obtained from a one-dimensional numerical simulation using the computer program SHAKE, which consists of the response analysis of horizontally layered soils under seismic excitation, with linear equivalent soil behaviour. Similar transfer functions from soil column using SHAKE were also estimated for areas where no microtremor observations were made. Use of geotechnical data for each of the sites and a synthesis of drilling data extracted from the existing subsurface database of Dhaka enabled to determine soil columns representative of each site. In most of the soil columns, a dense sand layer was encountered at a depth of 30 m and in some cases, silty clay later was found. Using the soil configurations a transfer function was calculated for each site using the SHAKE numerical code. In addition, recordings of background noise by microtremor observations for each site were used to calculate average H/V spectral ratios. Good overall concordance between the transfer functions obtained by the two methods is observed. The amplification and the fundamental frequency obtained by the two methods are almost similar for all the sites studied. From the frequency map, ward areas of 1.8 times of amplification and 2.5 times amplification are separated. Figure 4 shows map of amplification at fundamental frequencies


Earthquake in Bangladesh
of Dhaka City. From this map, it was found that all the 90 wards are fully/partially affected by the 1.8 times amplification and only 36 wards was partially affected by the 2.5 times amplification. Liquefaction analysis Liquefaction phenomena (process of turning to liquid) have been recorded and developed in many parts of the world where ground shaking is frequent and soils consist of loose fine sand under water table. Bangladesh including Dhaka is largely an alluvial plain consisting of loose fine sand and silt deposits. Although the older alluvium consisting of mainly silty clay with deeper ground water table is less susceptible to liquefaction, the recent deposits consisting of loose fine sand with shallower water table along the river flood plains may liquefy during a severe earthquake. The ground water table is quite deep (20 to 25 m) in most places except the areas near the rivers. Clearly liquefaction is a serious component of the earthquake hazard in certain parts of Dhaka as indicated by Ansary and Rashid (2000) and needs to be considered. A simple method suggested by Seed et al. (1983) was used here to evaluate a liquefaction resistance factor, FL. In this method required parameters are SPT N-values, grain-size distribution curves of soils, overburden pressure, and estimated peak surface acceleration. The FL method defines that ground water level to be considered as less than 10m from the ground surface. The liquefaction resistance factor, FL, for the top 20m of soil, and the resulting liquefaction potential, PL for the 253 sites were estimated. The total area of Dhaka city are classed into two categories, one is liquefiable area whose IL ³ 5.0 and another is non-liquefiable area exhibiting IL < 5.0. From the liquefaction map, areas of liquefied and areas not liquefied have been separated using GIS program. Figure 5 shows the map of liquefied areas and not liquefied areas. Integration of site effects in the GIS environment Every analysis region is different; therefore the quantification of the secondary site effects and the weighting scheme for combining the various seismic hazards is heuristic, based on judgment and expert opinion about the influence of local site conditions in the region and the exactness of the available geologic and geotechnical information. However that is not the circumstances in Bangladesh. Heuristic rules for quantification and combination were used which were developed by Stephanie and Kiremidjian (1994). The bedrock-level ground shaking in the region was ascertained. The shaking was depicted in terms of peak ground motion values. The regional distribution of bedrock-level shaking was estimated as 0.12g. Bedrock level PGA was measured as constant since the study area is small. It is decided that the final combined seismic hazard would be quantified in terms of Modified Marcelli Intensity (MMI). There are several relationships for converting PGA to MMI. The equation used here is developed by Trifunac and Brady (1975). The following heuristic rules are used to quantify the seismic hazard attributable to liquefaction: For regions with liquefiable soils with high liquefaction potential MMILIQ= MMIGS+2 For regions with liquefiable soils with moderate liquefaction potential MMILIQ= MMIGS+1 and otherwise: MMILIQ= 0 The rules for combining the assorted hazards are based on expert opinion (after Stephanie and Kiremidjian, 1994) about the comparative precision of the hazard information and the behaviour of the local geology. By over-laying the regional maps for each hazard as shown in Figures 4 and Figure 5 in GIS environment, the Dhaka City had been separated into four groups as areas of 1.8 times amplification, areas of 2.5 times amplification, areas of 1.8 times amplification plus liquefaction and areas of 2.5 times amplification plus liquefaction. Finally, Figure 6, the regional distribution of the final combined seismic hazard (MMIF) was produced. Conclusions The purpose of this study is to develop a methodology for using GIS technology to integrate the various components of a regional multi-hazard seismic risk analysis. The seismic risk analysis presented here includes local site effects such as soil amplification and liquefaction. A soil database of 253 boreholes has also been developed in MS EXCELL. The soil data were used to develop site amplification and soil liquefaction potential maps of the city. Both of these site effects


Earthquake in Bangladesh
are integrated in Geographical Information System (GIS) platform for combined hazard assessment. The GIS-based analysis is useful to engineers, planners, emergency personnel, government officials, and anyone else who may be concerned with the potential consequences of seismic activity in a given region. The results are presented in the form of microzone maps which will serve as an effective means of transferring information from the scientific community to the professional community of decision makers involved in hazard and risk mitigation. The author is Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, BUET Notes: *Magnitude is directly related to energy release due to plate movement. It has a unique value for an earthquake. It varies from 1 to 10. **Intensity is related to human feelings, behaviour of secondary structures and structural behaviour. It has different values at different locations for a particular earthquake. It varies from I to XII

Dhaka City and Earthquake
The risks and the challenges Architect Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Bangladesh is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. Although it is located in a region of significant seismic activity, most of the people do not perceive seismic risk to be of great importance. The severest zones include northern part of Dinajpur, Rangpur, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Tangail, northern part of Dhaka, Khulna, Jessore, Kushtia, and Chittagong. The 1885 earthquake of Manikganj, the 1897 earthquake of Great Assam, the 1918 earthquake of Srimangal, the 1930 earthquake of Dubai, and the 1950 earthquake of Assam are all quite matured to recur at any time and may create devastation in Bangladesh. Sadly though, the awareness regarding the nature and the level of earthquake activities in Bangladesh are not very clearly discernible. As a result, conscious efforts on collection of data on micro-seismicity are lacking, although the occurrence of small magnitude earthquakes in Bangladesh is quite frequent. According to the experts, the northern part of the country, covering greater Sylhet, Mymensingh, Rangpur, and a portion of the Chittagong Hill Tracts are very much exposed to earthquakes. A good background of historical earthquake information is essential to evaluate the seismicity. Information on earthquake events in and around Bangladesh is available for the last over 350 years. The earthquakes that affected Bangladesh and its surrounding regions, including the historical earthquakes, are on record from 1664. The earthquake record suggests that more than one hundred moderate to large earthquakes occurred inside Bangladesh since 1900, out of which more than 65 events occurred after 1960. Fifteen new epicentres have been identified inside Bangladesh since January 2001. This clearly indicates an increased frequency of earthquakes in Bangladesh. Although Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable to seismic activity, the nature and the level of this activity is very poorly defined. The main constraint is the earthquake observational and monitoring facilities, which is markedly absent in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, records of the earthquakes show that Bangladesh and its surrounding areas experienced at least 1000 earthquakes having magnitude greater than or equal to 4 in Reichter scale in the last 100 years. Table 1 presents a list of historical earthquakes in the neighbourhood of Bangladesh. The metropolis Dhaka is an integral part in the southern tip of Madhupur tract encircled by some very active tectonic units. SCOPE 5. The scope of the study has been limited to evaluate the effects of earthquake in Bangladesh in general and Dhaka city in particular. The paper sources various write-ups on disaster management and issues related with earthquake response, mainly from the reference materials available at the Disaster Management Bureau and earthquake related websites. The paper is structured in the following sequence. a. How risky is Dhaka city? b. What could be the consequences of an earthquake in Dhaka City?


Earthquake in Bangladesh
c. How can we meet the challenges of risk factors? d. Open forum HOW RISKY IS DHAKA CITY? The recurrence of earthquakes in an earthquake prone region cannot be prevented. Rather what could be done is to make a prediction and issue warning to minimize loss of lives and property. Although precise prediction is not always possible, an acceptable valid prediction of an earthquake will certainly minimize the loss of lives and property. Most earthquake experts and civil engineers feel that all the non-engineered structures of Dhaka city would totally collapse in a moderate intensity earthquake. This view was jointly sponsored by the Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE) and the Civil Engineering Division of the Institution of Engineers Bangladesh (IEB). Based on the statistical data of Dhaka city, the experts assume that only five percent of all houses are of reinforced concrete structure, 30 percent are of engineered masonry, nine percent of non-engineered masonry, five percent are mud-wall structures are of combined wood and bamboo. The Survey Module of this study was Zone 10, Uttara Sector that is in the danger zone. Fig: Satellite Image of Zone 10 Uttara. Source www.geo-cities.comA sample study based on questionnaire survey and visual inspection of the existing buildings of the old part of Dhaka has been conducted recently in BUET, which shows that about 60 per cent of the structures in that area are non-engineered. Among these non-engineered structures, over 50 percent are made of flammable materials. Besides, most of the roads in that area are inaccessible to fire-fighting vehicles. According to the Earthquake Risk Index (ERI), Dhaka is unfortunately among the riskiest cities in the world. "Although geologically Dhaka is in the second earthquake-prone zone, its vulnerability is due to its non-engineered structures," according to the experts. So, the most pertinent questions referring to Dhaka City's earthquake vulnerability, and hazard reduction and response capabilities are: a. What are we going to do with the flawed existent structures? b. What is our level of preparedness to meet the impending threat of earthquake? From the recent collapse of the Spectrum garments building May 2005 at Savar, and the sudden collapse of the Phoenix garments building in the city in February, 2006 it may be concluded that these are due to structural failure the trial experience of an earthquake situation. WHAT COULD BE THE RESULTS OF AN EARTHQUAKE IN DHAKA CITY? Immediately after an earthquake in Dhaka, some of the matters that we shall have to address and manage include: a. Medical i. A major earthquake would create a tremendous demand of emergency medical services ii. Injuries serious enough to require hospitalization are estimated to be so high that the hospitals may not be able to cope up with the existing infrastructures, and there will be acute shortage of hospital beds, medical supplies, doctors, nurses and support staffs. iii. Healthcare may be seriously impaired by damage to the hospital buildings and temporary measures may have to be adopted. b. Economic i. Business communities may not be prepared adequately to respond to an earthquake. ii. Economic damage to the area could be caused by failure of banking systems, specially those who use electronic means for funds transfers, management, etc.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
iii. An earthquake may cause a serious loss of employment. This employment loss could affect the economy. c. Relief efforts i. Following an earthquake, the affected area may be cut off from its surrounding areas. Therefore, coordination among communities within the affected area is essential for effective emergency response. ii. Food supply lines could break down. iii. Rubble and debris resulting from an earthquake may prevent access to the affected area for a considerable length of time. In this event, helicopters may be necessary to lift rescue teams into and casualties out of the area. iv. The first few hours following an earthquake are critical in saving the lives of people trapped in collapsed buildings, where specialized support is needed as quickly as possible. However, officials should be prepared to rely on local resources during the initial response period. v. Several hours may be required before external personnel and equipment can be mobilized for search and rescue, including the military and the fire services. Therefore, local rescuers will be relied upon heavily in the period immediately following the earthquake. d. Secondary Effects i. The earthquake and aftershocks may trigger one or more secondary events such as landslides, release of hazardous materials, dam failure or flooding. ii. Fires breaking out of control involving major parts of the city are very much likely because of the nature and density of construction in Dhaka city. However, there may be some individual or small group of fires which may occur as the result of miscellaneous damage-related factors. iii. Should high water condition exist during the time an earthquake occurs, low-lying areas may be flooded. e. Structural Damage Death and injures are expected to be caused principally because of failure of man-made structures, particularly old multi-storied buildings of un-reinforced brick and masonry buildings built before the adoption of earthquake-resistant building code. f. Utilities i. In the civil sector there may be minimal communication for a considerable length of time as roads will be disrupted ii. Many gas lines are vulnerable to rupture in the event of an earthquake iii. Commercial telephone services are vulnerable, particularly due to the possible rupture of underground cables that cross (earth) faults iv. Electrical power systems are among the most fragile in the event of an earthquake. Because they are also among the most essential of the utilities, even a short-term loss can be a major setback to a community. The loss of electric power during an earthquake may mean no water to fight fires or for drinking, no light or heat, no communication, no sewage pumps, etc. g. Transportation i. Damage to transportation system may severely hamper recovery efforts following an earthquake. The loss or impairment of major rail and highway links serving Dhaka city may significantly increase the difficulty of rescue and relief efforts, and may also have a long-term disrupting effect upon national commerce.


Earthquake in Bangladesh
ii. River ports of Dhaka may suffer setbacks, thus limiting the usefulness of the facilities in relief effort. iii. Partial or limited availability of the runway and airport facilities is expected following an earthquake. Facility that relies on electrical power, i.e. navigation aids and runaway lighting, may be out of commission for some period of time, even if emergency power is available. What is our Preparation for any possible quake? After the Spectrum disaster it took the Bangladesh Army and Fire Services personnel, rescue equipment, cranes and medical teams 7-9 days to finish their operation. Their efforts are most commendable under the circumstances, but when innumerable buildings will collapse in an earthquake, WHAT WILL WE DO? Some measures need to be taken immediately: i. Identify the vulnerable structures and repair or rebuild them ii. Draw up a long-term Master Plan not for five years (i.e. the term of an elected government) but for several more years considering the future iii. Develop public awareness Unfortunately, the fault lines around Dhaka City are located through the Zia International Airport and the Rampura TV Station. After any major quake, we may lose physical communication with the rest of the world as well as the means to air appeal for international support. It is already too late for us to take steps; but better late than never. Already we have faced two tragic disasters Spectrum and Phoenix. Are they not enough to make us stand up and think? Will we wait for another disaster or a real earthquake? Additional sources: CRED, 2002: International Disaster Database, Belgium Bangladesh National Building Code, 1993 HBRI-BSTI Active Tectonics Special thanks to 1. Bangladesh Geological Survey Institute. 2. SPARSO 3. BUET, Dept. of Architecture 4. Tarikul Islam, Project Manager, Disaster Management Programme, UNDP 5. Rehana Aktar, GIS Unit, LGED 6. Ar. G. A. Caeser, Dwelling Development Ltd. 7. Ashraful Kabir Ripon, architect, BUET 8. Iftekhar Ahmed, architect, BUET The author is in private practice and a postgraduate student at the Dept of Architecture, BUET Assessing earthquake and tsunami risk in Bangladesh Dr. Aftab Alam Khan Bangladesh having been situated in the active plate collision zone, poses a major threat from large earthquakes. It is of major debate, however, as to when and where such major earthquake would strike. Historical earthquake records suggest that Bangladesh has experienced at least four major earthquakes of magnitude between 7 and 8, and one great earthquake of magnitude between 8 and 9 in the past 250 years. These earthquakes are, namely: Bengal-Arakan earthquake of 1762, Manikganj earthquake of 1885, Great Assam earthquake of 1897, Srimongol earthquake of 1918, and Dhubri earthquake of 1930. All of these earthquakes caused extensive damage to property and life, and changed geomorphic expressions such as ground tilt, ground subsidence, and river courses etc., in most part of the Bengal delta. It is also well established that during an earthquake the major damage occurs within 10 15 km radius from nucleation of an active fault rupture. In the context, the Bengal delta of Bangladesh is


Earthquake in Bangladesh
characterised by quite a good number of active faults such as Tista fault, Korotoa fault, Bogra fault, Dhaleshwari-Buriganga fault, Dauki fault zone, Surma-Sari fault, Shazibazar fault, Lalmai fault, Sitakund fault, Sitapahar fault, Kolabunia fault, Bandarban fault, and Teknaf fault. From geologic point of view all these faults are most vulnerable to reactivations and ruptures during a major earthquake that would strike nearby the respective fault zones. The question of 'how far nearby' would depend on the site characterization with respect to liquefaction, ground frequency, amplification, ground acceleration (g_value), and soil types. The pertinent question arises from the devastating tsunami of December 26, 2004 that to what extent Bangladesh is vulnerable to any future tsunami. The historical record do not rule out one to one correlation of the possibility, neither its vulnerability is indicated straight away. Considering the orography of the continental shelf, water depth, and tectonic framework of the Bay of Bengal, tsunami vulnerability status needs to be recast. The historical records suggest that on night of 11th and 12th October, 1737 a furious hurricane stroke at the mouth of the river Ganges. At the same time a violent earthquake triggered throwing down a great many houses along the river at Kolkata. The water rose to 40ft higher than the usual level in the river Ganges (Gentlemen's Magagine, 1738 1739). Another destructive and violent earthquake triggered on April 2, 1762 that was felt all over Bengal and more severely in the northern part of the east coast of the Bay of Bengal. This earthquake had thrown volumes of water and mud from the fissures. At a place called Bakerchanak near the coast, a tract of land sank, and 200 people with all their cattle, were lost. In the northwest coast of Chedua island, about 22 ft above sea level, there said to have caused a permanent submergence of 60 square miles near Chittagong (Bangladesh District Gazetteers Chittagong, 1975). However, the above records do not justify that the coastal belt of Bangladesh is tsunamigenic. Prior to characterisation of an area under tsunami vulnerability status, it is important to know the genesis of a tsunami. A tsunami is an oceanic gravity wave generated by submarine earthquakes or by other geological processes such as volcanic eruptions or landslides in the ocean. A train of gravity waves is set up on the surface of the sea by a disturbance in the sea bed such as submarine earthquakes, landslides, or volcanic explosions. An earthquake that causes a tsunami is termed as tsunamigenic earthquake. Most large and shallow earthquakes under the sea are tsunamigenic and hence are distributed along the subduction zone of the plate collision margin. Although the evidence suggests that most great water waves are caused by fault rupture along the submarine faults, there are other causes. Submarine landslides occurred in Sigami Bay in Japan in 1923 caused tsunami. These underwater landslides occurred due to triggering of nearby earthquake. Sometimes a landslide or avalanche of soil and rock on mountain side into a bay, a large lake or even man-made reservoir can produce a deadly local water wave. A famous landslide-induced seawave occurred at Lituya Bay, Alaska after a local large earthquake on July 9, 1958. Water waves rushed into the opposite shores of the bay as far as 500 m, stripping vegetation in its path. A giant water-wave was produced by a landslide into the Vaiont reservoir in Italy in October 1963 that caused a large volume of water overtopping the Vaiont dam by 100m and sweeping the valley of the Piave River, killing almost 3000 people. The other known source of great tsunamis is the major volcanic eruptions. The water-wave following the collapse of the top of Krakatoa volcano in 1883 is one of the most violent geological paroxysms in historic times. Krakatoa Island, in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, with its peak standing to a height of 2000m experienced numerous earthquakes and volcanic activities during August 1883, and a total of about 16 km3 of ash and pumice had ejected. On August 27, 1883 the central vents where the island had stood caved in, and there was ocean water 250 m deep. The sudden collapse produced an enormously energetic tsunami. The water-wave was not high enough in the deep water to sink ships present in the Sunda Strait, but when it reached shallow water along the coast it washed away 165 villages to no trace and killed more than 36,000 people with a water height more than 35 m along the shore. Devastating episode of a tsunami depends on the volume of on-rush of stressed water and the velocity of the on-rush water front. When a fault rupture occurs in the ocean bed, the upward motion of the faulted block exerts pressure in the overlying water column eventually stressing and moving it. The velocity of the wave fronts of the stressed water depends on water depth and the acceleration due to gravity. The relationship becomes evident wherein velocity is equal to the square root of the product of water depth and acceleration due to gravity. The nature, extent, and magnitude of a fault rupture play an important role in the genesis of a tsunami. It is envisaged that a tsunamigenic earthquake, by and large, would be of 8 and greater magnitudes. However, local tsunami may occur by an earthquake of magnitudes between 7 and 8 provided other conditions are fulfilled. The nature of a tsunamigenic fault movement is essentially thrust. The focal depth has to be within 10 15 km. The observation made on the earthquakes of December 26, 2004 and March 28, 2005 clearly demonstrates that one with mb 9.0 (Mw 8.2) and


Earthquake in Bangladesh
focal depth 10 km generated devastating tsunami while the other with mb 8.7 (Mw 8.1) and focal depth 21 km failed to generate it. The fault plane solution of two earthquake events occurred in Sumatra, Indonesia on December 26, 2004 and March 28, 2005 respectively, and one earthquake event occurred in Java on July 17, 2006 clearly demonstrates that the earthquake generated tsunami is a typical thrust fault rupture, while the other two show vertical fault rupture but not a thrust. This anomaly fits well with the relation between the nature of fault movement and the generation of tsunami. July 17, 2006 Java earthquake of moment magnitude 7.7 and focal depth only 6 km also failed to generate tsunami. Based on the geodynamic conditions for the generation of tsunami an earthquake needs to trigger in the ocean bed with sufficient water depth close to the plate collision margin essentially within the subduction tectonic environment. It needs a major rupture and fault movement of an essential thrust with moment magnitude much greater than 7 having focal depth within 10 15 km. Only active plate subduction zones are susceptible to such kind of rupture due to thrust fault movement. Based on the configuration of the continental shelf, water depth, and tectonic framework of the Bay of Bengal, a possible explanation on the status of tsunami vulnerability is proposed. The 200 km long continental shelf with a gradient 0.5 m/km in the upper 100 km zone and a gradient 2 m/km in the lower 100 km zone and then an abrupt shelf break with a gradient about 20 m/km acts as a potential barrier to the motion of the stressed water column. The tectonic framework of the Bay of Bengal suggests that no potential subduction tectonics is operating in the bay and the dominant fault movement is strike-slip as determined from focal mechanism solution of earthquake events occurred in the bay. Hence, characteristically the most Bay of Bengal region does not fulfil the major criteria for the generation of any potential tsunami. However, it will be scientifically unjust and unfair if a pocket located in the bay which coordinate 18oN 87oE and another long narrow strip along Andaman-Nicobar Islands chain is ignored from saying that there remains some wild chances for generating local tsunami under some unusual conditions. Tsunami travels very fast as ocean waves, about 800 km/h, or 0.2 km/sec for a water depth of 5000 m, but it is still much slower than seismic waves. The velocity difference between the seismic wave propagation and tsunami wave makes it possible to issue a tsunami warning. Earthquake monitoring stations (seismic observatories) can immediately calculate various parameters such as location, magnitude, focal depth, and the nature of fault rupture, and subsequently may issue tsunami warning. The national networking of seismic observatory and its inter communication would serve both the purpose of mapping earthquake risk zones as well as tsunami warning. No special and separate tsunami warning system is needed. Dr. Aftab Alam Khan is Professor, Department of Geology, University of Dhaka.

Unabated earthquake fear
Abdul Khaleque Earthquakes happen when forces deep within our planet cause movement of the earth's outer layer called the crust. The rock plates that make up the earth's crust number about 20. Most earthquakes occur along the boundaries of major plates. As the mantle moves plates slowly around the globe, the plates may crape against each other. Sometimes pressure along the edges becomes so great that something has to give way. Then the land trembles with an earthquake. Geologists believe that the Himalayas were formed when the plate carrying India bumped into the one carrying the rest of Asia. The mantle may also pull plates apart. That is what is causing North America to drift ever further away from Europe. Most earthquakes happen along boundaries between coastal plates which are thick slabs of rocks. At the boundaries, the plates sometimes grind against each other, setting up strains that can result in earthquakes. Since most of the plate boundaries are on the ocean floor, most earthquakes actually occur under the ocean. More than 50 per cent of all earthquakes occur at the edge of the Pacific plates. All segments of our people may find interest in study on earthquake which occurred in quick succession recently in pretty fearful Richter scale, portending grave danger to our high-rise buildings constructed without caring for preventive scales of construction. We need to vitalise administrative functionaries and seismic scientists to come with remedial suggestions to avoid the


Earthquake in Bangladesh
disastrous effects of earthquake with possible help from UNO and any other international agency. Basic to survival in the event of an earthquake is adequate warning. We should endeavour to learn to mitigate sufferings and destructions, for which timely and correct warning, its dissemination and action thereon are of particular importance. It is a major national concern to keep close contact with international agencies as an earthquake-prone country. We should not be surprised to learn that in USA seismic scientists study behaviour patterns of animals and cockroaches, using sensitive equipment designed to record movement of plates. It turns out that horses and cockroaches are usually active just before earthquakes. A professor of California University reported that domestic and farm animals give signal of an impending earthquake. His contention was verified by an animal behaviourist. People reported that their dogs and cats remain very close to their sides posing nervous. It was also verified that a horse was found kicking a wall of the stall about four hours before an earthquake. Peculiar pre-quake animal behaviour has often been reported by the Chinese who are not still clear about relationship to draw any conclusion as to whether or not such a behaviour is a precursor of a major earthquake. Throughout China, people watch insects and animals, and report their unusual behaviour to seismic scientists. In 1975, China scientists observing animal behaviour and other signs predicted that an earthquake would hit soon. Officials evacuated 100000 people from the city of Haicheng. A few hours later, a large quake levelled the city. Such accurate predictions are still rare. A few years later, a major earthquake struck central China without warning, killing 700000 people in the city of Tangshan. Frequency of mild earthquake in Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts in recent years alarmed the people, because the quakes measured more than 5 Richter scale and did harm by flattening houses. According to local people, at least 50 after-shocks had shaken the areas in these districts, forcing a lot of people to shift to safety. The epicentre of a recent quake was located at Kalabunia on the Indo-Bangladesh border. Four-storey buildings in Chittagong port developed multiple cracks after the tremor with 5.31 on the Richter scale hit the region on August 12, 2003, the highest ever Richter scale in the world being perhaps 8.8. Besides, the roof of the Power Development Board sub-station in Chittagong city collapsed. The frequent jolts and the petty damages have already raised the concern of the government and the seismic experts and frightened people across Bangladesh. Experts on earthquake generally feel that Bangladesh may have a big earthquake in the Chittagong area whose impact may be felt in Dhaka also in the form of collapse of a lot multistoreyed buildings or in some other forms. Record shows that Madhupur gar and haor of Sylhet were the creation of earthquake in 1762. Tista river changed its course as a result of an earthquake of 1787. 40000 sq miles of Khasia hill areas were destroyed by the earthquake of 1891 and the course of Brahmaputra river was also changed. An earthquake is judged by the dimensions of the slipped area of the fault and the intensity and duration of ground-shaking which combinedly damage buildings and structures. Shocks of energy release cause greater loss when the earthquake occurs in the city instead of a sparsely populated region. When freeways are crowded, when many people are on the streets casualties may rise from falling debris and automobile accidents. An earthquake, however, reveals certain weaknesses in engineering and construction practices, calling for corrective measures by appropriate improvements in safety regulations, in building codes and in preparation for an emergency. Old buildings generally constitute the most serious threats of public safety because of the probability of their collapse during strong earthquakes. Such buildings should naturally be brought up to modern standards of seismic resistance or they should be demolished. To carry out such a programme, priorities as to relative use, location and nature of construction should be established. In some countries appropriate tax relief or other incentives to help ease the economic burden have been suitably organised. Old earthen dams, highway structures and building codes have undergone revision to conform to the current state of knowledge of earthquake engineering. Structures and facilities vital in emergencies such as hospitals, emergency power installations, emergency operating centres, public safety facilities and essential elements of key communications systems have also been designed and constructed or remodeled to withstand strong earthquake shaking. Similarly, need has been felt to review and revise standards of designing and constructing utility systems so that future damage may be within acceptable limits. Bangladesh may undertake similar measures. Most undeveloped countries like Bangladesh do not have safe educational institutions for students, designed to resist earthquakes and other natural disasters. Yet, these are in most cases the structures where shelters and post-disaster operations are organised. The hazard to student life is hardly given importance in Bangladesh. Educational institutions lacking safety should be prohibited


Earthquake in Bangladesh
until these are brought up to modern standards of safety. If these cannot be made safe, these should be vacated and classes should be held in tents. It has been the general experience that most typical, modern one-storey wood-frame houses perform better during earthquake ground shaking. Bangladesh has undertaken comprehensive programmes of rapid economic development. It seems necessary that Bangladesh considers carefully its land-use planning without proceeding hastily with land-use programmes in vulnerable areas. Precise traces of faults by geologists and its accurate mapping of breaks are essential prerequisites for land-use planning. Thorough geological investigation can expose the hazards to critical structures like a new dam, a fertilizer factory, academic buildings, hospitals etc. All structures designed for public assembly need to be treated as subjects of special geological studies. Experts in geology, soil mechanics and engineering may in due course be able to define precisely geological hazards. Meanwhile, vigorous enforcement of improved building code may be taken as the most effective measure to reduce the earthquake hazards. In the United States, deficiencies in old masonry structures have been largely corrected through the passage and enforcement of “Parapet Laws” which require hazardous parapets and cornices to be strengthened or removed in order to reduce hazards to occupants and pedestrians from debris. The usual weakness in Bangladesh buildings can be located in poor quality of brick, brick joints being improperly filled with mortar, absence of mechanical ties between parallel layers of brick, absence of reinforcing steel in the walls, inadequate structural ties connecting floors, roofs and walls to each other. So, we need to bring sub-standard buildings and structures to the current international levels of safety. Such a programme will, of course, involve economic and human disruption to occupants in densely populated areas. In Bangladesh, warnings have been on against high-rise construction spree in view of the frequent mild tremors. But none seems to have taken note of such warnings. Although the intensity range is still minor, the fear of devastating earthquake has not abated. The damage inflicted by such earthquake may be catastrophic. In advanced countries various insurance programme are at work to protect earthquake victims. The under-writers reinsure some fractions of their total exposure. Abdul Khaleque is a Retd. IG Police and Secretary.


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