190424 earthquake
Image Credit: Creative Commons

Dubai: Geologists detect about 500,000 earthquakes in the world each year, with another 500,000 "microquakes". Out of those estimated half-a-million detectable tremors, 100,000 can be felt.

And about 100 of them likely to cause some damage, says the USGS.

On Monday, UAE residents reported having felt tremors in the country’s coastal areas as a Magnitude 5.1 tremor hit south-western Iran. Other residents in eastern and coastal parts of the Arabian Peninsula also felt the quake.

Other agencies reported a slightly higher magnitude (5.4 as per USGS and 5.6 as per Fars News Agency), but it was generally considered to be a moderate quake.

Geologically, Iran sits on active faults. Geographically, Iran is close to the UAE. When a quake triggered by plate movements hits Iran, the UAE (especially the northern Emirates), typically experiences mild to moderate tremors.

Wherever in the world you may find yourself in when a quake strikes, here are the dos and don'ts to remember:

1. Take Cover

Immediately find a strong table or any other piece of furniture and stay put until the shaking stops.

If possible, find a cover.
If possible, duck and find a cover. Image Credit: www.earthquakecountry.org/disability

2. Find a Corner

Search for a corner in your house. Stay away from glass, window doors, walls and any other weak structure that may fall.

Tectonic Plate facts:
The UAE has no known earthquake fault line, thankfully.

That means earthquake risk in the country is relatively low, though that's not to say the country doesn't feel the Earth shaking every now and then.

The UAE is located on the edge of the Arabian Tectonic Plate. This “plate” pushes against the Eurasian Plate in the north, the African plate in the west and south and Indo-Australian plat in the east.

The southern-most boundary of the Eurasian plant — the Zagros mountain belt of Iran – is one of the most seismically active regions in the world.

The Zagros fold-and-thrust belt was formed by the collision of the Eurasian Plate and the Arabian Plate.

The Zagros mountains were created around the time of the second Ice Age, which caused the tectonic collision.
Zagros fold-thrust belt.
Main structural features of the Zagros fold-thrust belt. The Zagros belt was formed by the collision of the Eurasian Plate and the Arabian Plate. Image Credit: NASA World Wind

3. Stay away (from glass, windows, doors, walls)

Stay away from glass, windows, doors, walls and any other weak structure that may fall.

4. Don't panic

Don't panic, try to keep your cool and don't run around here and there. If possible, get out of your house. Move away from tall buildings, trees, streetlights and utility wires. 

5. Stay in open space

Once out of your houses, stay in open space till the shaking stops. Most casualties result from collapsing walls and falling objects.

6. If driving, try to pull over/stop on roadside

If travelling in a vehicle stop as quickly as possible, but never near a tree, or a building or a structure.

7. Be cautious

Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped and always avoid roads, bridges that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

Quake facts

  • On average, Magnitude 2 and smaller earthquakes occur several hundred times a day world wide.
  • Major earthquakes, greater than magnitude 7, happen more than once per month.
  • "Great earthquakes", magnitude 8 and higher, occur about once a year.
  • Most earthquakes occur at depths of less than 80 km (50 miles) from the Earth’s surface.

Magnitude vs Intensity

The magnitude of an earthquake is a measured value of the earthquake size.

The magnitude is the same no matter where you are, or how strong or weak the shaking was in various locations.

The intensity of an earthquake is a measure of the shaking created by the earthquake, and this value does vary with location.

The world’s greatest land mountain range is the Himalaya-Karakoram.

It countains 96 of the world’s 109 peaks of over 7,317m (24,000 ft).

The longest range is the Andes of South America which is 7,564km (4700 mi) in length. Both were created by the movement of tectonic plates.

Source: US Geological Survey