image Photo: Flash90

Israel shaken by 2 earthquakes

Two separate tremors rattled the northern sector of the country within 24 hours over the weekend.

By Erin Viner

A 3.6 magnitude earthquake in the Jordan Valley region yesterday was recorded by the Geological Survey of Israel (GSI)at 12:28 PM, at a 5 km depth. The epicenter was 16km southeast of the city of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, and was felt in the local cities of Nazareth, Afula and Haifa.

The same area was shaken by a 3.8 magnitude earthquake just 12 hours earlier on Saturday. It had a depth of 3 km and the epicenter was also near Tiberias in the Great Rift Valley.

There were no reported injuries or damage in either of the incidents, which are classified as “minor.”

Following are the basic earthquake categories:

Micro <1.0 – 2.0

Minor 2.0 – 4.0

Light 4.0-5.0

Moderate 5.0 – 6.0

Strong 6.0 – 7.0

Serious 7.0 – 8.0, capable of major destruction

Great 8.0 – >9.0, with damage spanning 100s of kilometers.

There were also smaller earthquakes in Israel on both 23 and 22 January. Yesterday there were 7 earthquakes ranging from 2.0-2.5 in magnitude, with 6 others between 2.1 and 2.9 on Saturday. All 13 of the quakes occurred in the Jordan Valley, while another 2.1 struck offshore in the East Mediterranean Sea.

The last significant earthquake was a 4.2 magnitude that shook the country overnight 15-16 June. The epicenter was about 68 kilometers north of the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, with the strongest tremors felt in Beersheba and as far north as Jerusalem.

The Director of Israel’s Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee for Earthquake Preparedness, Amir Yahav, previously told TV7 that they are so “commonplace” that “tens of thousands” are felt globally each year, but he emphasized that the vast majority are “weak in intensity and do not cause any damage.” Nevertheless, he said that earthquakes remain such a “great concern in Israel” that “according to government resolutions it is the second most dangerous scenario (after war).”

Dr. Amos Salamon, who is a Senior Researcher at the Geological Hazards Division of the Geological Survey of Israel (GSI), said that while minor quakes are not infrequent, “destructive events” that cause damage only occur in Israel every 60-100 years. Both of the last minor surges in Israel occurred in the Galilee region in 2018 and 2013.

A Tel Aviv University report in December 2020 estimated that Israel may be hit by a major earthquake of about 6.5M in the coming years. Toward that end, the government is concerned with enforcing construction codes to prevent the collapse of buildings to minimize impact of such a natural disaster.