Muscat: People in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain felt the earthquake that struck Iran yesterday, but in Oman only Musandam is likely to have been affected, says an expert at German University of Technology (GUtech).
Dr Goesta Hoffmann, a geology professor at the GUtech, has spent the past few years studying evidence of earthquakes and tsunamis in the Sultanate. He says the quake which hit near the Iranian city of Bushehr may have been felt in Musandam, but it wasn't strong enough to affect the rest of Oman.
The earthquake in Iran occurred in a place where the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates collide, and happen quite regularly there, he said. Many earthquakes occur every year, but they are not felt by humans.
"It's fairly common in that area to experience earthquakes.When it comes to Oman and the earthquake risk that we may have, then Musandam is the area that closest to Iran and may have the highest chance in Oman," Hoffmann explained.
The last time the rest of Oman was affected by an earthquake was in 1945, when an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Pakistan, Hoffman said. It triggered a tsunami that hit Oman's coast.
Hoffmann has found evidence of the tsunami such as boulders sitting on an old graveyard, where they normally wouldn't have been, and traces of oysters on the boulders, a sign that they had been lifted from the shore and thrown onto the cliffs by the giant waves.
According to Hoffmann's research, there have been five earthquakes that triggered tsunamis in Oman over the past 2,400 years.
While earthquakes in Oman aren't common, Hoffmann said it's best to be aware of the tsunami risks if one is felt here.
"Basically if you feel one here in Oman, you should move to higher ground," he said.
Hoffmann and his colleagues are working on a website that tracks seismic activity, which can be viewed at www.paleoseismicity.org.