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Earthquake along the Iraq-Iran border: U-M experts available

Seismogram of Sunday's magnitude-7.3 earthquake along the Iran-Iraq border, as recorded at the University of Michigan seismic station in Ann Arbor, 6,200 miles away. Image credit: University of Michigan seismic stationSeismogram of Sunday's magnitude-7.3 earthquake along the Iran-Iraq border, as recorded at the University of Michigan seismic station in Ann Arbor, 6,200 miles away. Image credit: University of Michigan seismic station

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake near the Iraq-Iran border killed more than 400 people across both countries on Sunday night. University of Michigan experts are available to discuss the event.

Nathan Niemi Nathan NiemiNathan Niemiis an associate professor of geological sciences in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. His research focuses on the tectonic processes that lead to mountain building.

"The Iraq earthquake occurred on a shallowly dipping fault that underlies the Zagros Mountains, along the Iran-Iraq border," he said. "In this region, the Arabian plate is moving northward about an inch per year and colliding with the Eurasian plate, leading to earthquakes and the growth of mountains.

"Earthquakes of this magnitude are not uncommon along the plate boundary between Arabia and Eurasia, occurring every few 10s to 100s of years. The prevalence of buildings in this region that are not constructed to withstand such earthquakes, unfortunately, typically results in significant loss of life and property."

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Ben van der Pluijm, Ben van der PluijmBen van der Pluijman expert on geological hazards and their impacts on society, is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

"The magnitude-7.3 earthquake occurred in the northern border region of Iran and Iraq centered about 220 kilometers north of Baghdad at a depth of about 23 kilometers," he said. "It was felt as far away as Turkey, Israel and Kuwait. This earthquake occurred in a seismically active region from northward motion of the Arabian plate that is resisted by the Eurasian plate to its northeast.

"The earthquake records reverse-fault behavior, consistent with its location under the frontal part of the Zagros Mountains. These types of contractional earthquakes are responsible for the formation and continued growth of this mountain belt. Ground shaking in the region resulted in collapse of buildings that is primarily responsible for significant loss of life and damage."

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