Morocco Earthquake 2023 – 11-09-2023


    Syllabus: G-1/Geography; GS-3/Disaster Management

    In News

    • On 8 September 2023, an earthquake with a moment magnitude of 6.8–6.9 and maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe) struck Morocco’s Marrakesh-Safi region.


    • It is the second deadliest earthquake of 2023 after the Turkey–Syria earthquake. More than 2,000 deaths have been reported.
    • The earthquake’s epicenter was located near the town of Ighil in the Atlas Mountains. The Atlas Mountains stretches through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The range’s highest peak is Toubkal, in Morocco.

    Reason for earthquake: Geology of Morocco

    • Morocco lies close to the boundary between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate, the Azores–Gibraltar Transform Fault.
    • This zone of right-lateral strike-slip becomes transpressional at its eastern end, with the development of large thrust faults. To the east of the Strait of Gibraltar, in the Alboran Sea, the boundary becomes collisional in type.
    • Seismicity in Morocco is concentrated in the country’s northern region and the Alboran Sea due to the “northward convergence of the African plate with respect to the Eurasian plate along a complex plate boundary.”
    • The recent earthquake is attributed to “oblique-reverse faulting at shallow depth within the Moroccan High Atlas Mountain range”.

      Types of Fault
    • A fault is a fracture or zone of fractures between two blocks of rock. Faults allow the blocks to move relative to each other, causing earthquakes if the movement occurs rapidly. During a quake, the rock on one side of the fault suddenly slips with respect to the other.’
    • Scientists use the angle of the fault with respect to the surface (known as the dip) and the direction of the slip along the fault to classify faults.
    • Faults which move along the direction of the dip plane are dip-slip faults.
    • Faults which move horizontally are known as strike-slip faults.
    • Oblique-slip faults show characteristics of both dip-slip and strike-slip faults.
    • The term ‘reverse’ refers to a situation that the upper block, above the fault plane, moves up and over the lower block. This type of faulting is common in areas of compression — when one tectonic plate is converging into another.

    • Location: Morocco is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa.
    • Coastline: It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is one of only three nations (along with Spain and France) to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines.
    • Neighbouring countries: Morocco has land borders with Algeria to the east, and the disputed territory of Western Sahara to the south. The Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain from Morocco with a 13 kilometres span of water.
    • Important cities: Its capital is Rabat, while its largest city is Casablanca.
    • Marrakesh: Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco. In 1994, the Marrakesh Agreement was signed here to establish the World Trade Organisation, and in 1997 Marrakesh served as the site of the World Water Council’s first World Water Forum.
    • Organizations: It holds membership in the Arab League, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Union for the Mediterranean, and the African Union.