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Israeli scientists drilling deep into the Dead Sea have discovered a warning sign. They found tensions along the fault line are beginning to show signs of rupturing, and it could create an earthquake in the coming years. Although the team from Tel Aviv University was unable to predict when it will happen, they determined it will have the potential to kill hundreds of people.
The team stated the earthquake could measure up to 6.5 on the Richter scale, which is strong enough to cause poorly built buildings to crumble and cause major damage to more sturdy structures.
The research found an earthquake on this level happens every 120-150 years on average, but there have been points where the lull in activity lasted just a matter of decades.
The last major earthquake to hit the Dead Sea was a 6.2 magnitude quake in 1927, which killed 500 people and injured more than700 in Amman in Jordan, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the coastal city of Jaffa.
The Dead Sea is situated along the Syrian-African rift – a small tear in the Earth’s crust running down the Israel-Jordan border.
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Professor Shmuel Marco, head of Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, said: “The geological record does not lie and a major earthquake in Israel will come.
“Of course, we have no way of predicting exactly when the earth will shake under our feet — this is a statistical projection — but unfortunately, I can say that an earthquake that will cause hundreds of casualties will hit in the coming years.
“I don’t want to cause alarm, but we are living in a tectonically active period.
“It could be in 10 years or in several decades, but it could also be next week, and we need to constantly be prepared for that.”
Researchers drilled hundreds of metres beneath the Dead Sea to analyse the layers of sediment which gives an indication as to how often an earthquake occurred over the past 220,000 years.
Each layer of sediment is about a millimetre thick, and are deposited each year by winter flash-floods and evaporation during the summer.
However, when an earthquake hits, the sediments mix together, which allowed the scientists to determine the earthquake record.
A statement said: “As soon an earthquake occurs, the sediments swirl together, with the layers that had previously settled in perfect sequence blending into one another and resettling in a different arrangement.”
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The team also found there was a “significant underestimation of the frequency of earthquakes in Israel”.
While a 6.5 magnitude quake could happen in a matter of years, a larger 7.5 magnitude quake – which is 100 times stronger – was forecasted in the coming centuries.
Previously, it had been thought a 7.5 earthquake hits Israel every 100,000 years, but the new estimation is it could be as frequent as every 1,300 to 1,400 years.
The last time an earthquake of that scale hit was almost 1,000 years ago exactly in 1033,
The statement added: “This means that in the next few centuries, we can expect another earthquake of a magnitude of 7.5 or higher.”
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