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The Seismicity of the Cyprus Region


Cyprus is situated within the second intensive seismic zone of the earth, that of the Alpine-Himalayan belt. This zone extends from the Atlantic Ocean along the Mediterranean basin through Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran and India to the Pacific Ocean. The earthquakes occurring in this zone represent about 15% of the world seismic activity.


Cyprus is considered by most workers to be situated on the southern side of the Anatolian Plate, just north of the African Plate. Its seismicity is attributed to the “Cyprus Arc (Figure S1)which constitutes the tectonic boundary between the African and Eurasian lithospheric plates in the region. The Cyprus Arc starts from the gulf of Antalia, where it joins the Hellenic Arc, passes west and south of Cyprus and extends towards the gulf of Iskenderun in the east where it joins the Eastern Fault of Anatolia. The Cyprus Arc constitutes the zone of subduction of the African Plate under the Eurasian Plate (Figure S2). Many epicentres are concentrated along the arc, indicating that the tectonic movements along it are the cause of many earthquakes, several of which are strong. Examples of earthquakes experienced in Cyprus are the one on 23rd February 1995 in the northwest of Pafos and on 9th October 1996 in the southwest of Pafos. Recent neotectonic studies by the Geological Survey Department (GSD) show that Cyprus has several active faults along which earthquakes also occur, like the earthquake of 11th August 1999 which was caused by a movement on the Gerasa fault. It is therefore obvious that the Cyprus Arc takes up only part of the movements of the lithospheric plates and that the remainder is distributed in the rest of Cyprus as far as the Pentadaktylos range.


From the map of epicentres (Figures S3,S4) of the earthquakes that occurred during the last 100 years and the corresponding  (Figure S5), it becomes obvious that the main seismic activity is concentrated in the west and south of the island and along an approximately arcuate zone in the sea, also in the west and south. The largest proportion of seismic activity during the period 1894-1998 is observed to the south of the 35th parallel. There has been seismic quiescence in the southwest of the island during the last 100 years, in contrast with the gulf of Antalia further north where the seismic activity is stronger. A similar but less intense state of quiescence is observed to the northeast of Cyprus towards the gulf of Iskenderun.



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