Mines Géologie

Unearthing the Unsung Heroes: How Geologists Safeguard Morocco in Times of Earthquake

Morocco, a nation of stunning landscapes and rich heritage, faced a significant test of resilience on September 8, 2023, when a powerful earthquake struck. The tremors left behind a trail of destruction, but amid the chaos and despair, one group of professionals stepped forward as unsung heroes – geologists. In this article, we shed light on the indispensable role played by geologists in safeguarding Morocco during and after an earthquake.

Before an earthquake strikes, geologists are already hard at work. They conduct meticulous geological surveys, assessing seismic hazards and identifying potential danger zones. Their efforts lay the foundation for early warning systems, which proved invaluable during the recent earthquake. Geologists are the architects of our preparedness, ensuring that Morocco is as ready as possible when seismic forces unleash their fury.

When the earth shakes, geologists are among the first to respond. Armed with knowledge and advanced technology, they quickly assess the situation. Seismometers, GPS stations, and other cutting-edge equipment allow them to monitor ground movements and analyze seismic activity in real-time. This data guides immediate responses and aids in decision-making for authorities and emergency responders.

“Following activation of the post-seismic intervention protocol for recording aftershocks from the AL HAOUZ earthquake, an ING-CNRST team is currently deploying a temporary seismic network around the epicentral zone. The aim of this network is to reinforce the recording of all aftershocks and the accelerations generated by them in this zone. These aftershocks and their accelerations will be used to identify the faults and active geological structures that had generated the main shock, and also, thanks to the accelerations, to get an idea of the degree of risk for major structures in the region, notably dams” Prof Jamila EL ALAMI, Director, National Center for Scientific and Technical Research (CNRST).

The collaboration between geologists and civil engineers is a linchpin of earthquake response. Geologists’ expertise in understanding geological conditions helps identify unstable ground and potential hazards. This knowledge ensures the safety of search and rescue teams, who rely on geologists’ guidance to navigate treacherous terrain and crumbling infrastructure. Geologists are, quite literally, the bedrock upon which rescue efforts stand.

Geologists don’t stop working when the tremors subside. In the aftermath, they turn their attention to understanding the geological changes caused by the earthquake. This includes assessing the risk of landslides, identifying shifts in groundwater, and studying the long-term effects on soil stability. Their findings are invaluable for future disaster mitigation and recovery planning.

UM6P, in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, ONHYM and Cadi Ayyad University, launched a project at the beginning of this year to map the various discontinuity structures (faults) in Morocco”, according to Khalid Amrouch, Professor at UM6P.

The importance of international collaboration cannot be overstated. Geologists in Morocco collaborate with counterparts worldwide and international geological organizations. They exchange knowledge, share best practices, and access critical resources. This global network enhances Morocco’s earthquake preparedness, ensuring that the nation can draw upon a wealth of expertise and support when needed most.

In the face of adversity, geologists in Morocco emerge as the unsung heroes of earthquake management. From proactive preparedness to immediate response and long-term recovery, their contributions are multifaceted and vital. Their dedication to safeguarding Morocco against seismic threats is unwavering.

As we reflect on the recent earthquake, let us remember the geologists who toil behind the scenes, unearthing insights that save lives and protect communities. Their commitment and expertise deserve our recognition and support.

By: Youssef DAAFI, Geologist, CPG-AIPG, EurGeol-EFG, QP-MMSA, RM-SME & FWAIMM

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