Abstract

The North Yemen earthquake (Mb = 6.0) of 13 December 1982 is the first earthquake in the southern Arabian Peninsula known to be accompanied by surface displacements. The extensive destruction and loss of lives resulted entirely from widespread collapse of unreinforced masonry and mud brick structures; maximum Modified Mercalli intensity was probably VII to VIII. The only surface manifestation of tectonic activity was the occurrence of earthquake-related extensional ground cracks in the epicentral region. The cracks occur mainly in four relatively continuous north- to northwest-trending linear zones that range from a few hundred meters to 15 km in length and in irregular areas of polygonal extension cracks. The area within which the cracks occur is 22.5 km long by about 10 km wide. Continued dilation across some cracks was measured almost 1 month after the main shock. Seismicity and active volcanism in this region are inferred to reflect slow extension of the southwestern margin of the Arabia plate perpendicular to the Red Sea spreading axis.

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