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Development of earthquake-induced fissures in the Main Ethiopian Rift


A series of episodes involving land subsidence along an elongated formation of pits connected by fissures have been observed in various parts of the Main Ethiopian Rift1–4 over the past 25 yr. Although other workers1 have proposed a possible relationship between tectonics, subsurface drainage and subsidence no field observations have related earthquakes to such development of fissures. I present here the first observation of the development of fissures following an earthquake swarm with local magnitude, ML4 in the Main Ethiopian Rift north of the Fentale Mountain (Fig. 1) between January and March 1981 (ref. 5). This showed that there could be a variety of developments in the evolution of earthquake-induced fissures depending on geological formation, vegetation cover and drainage; the implication on similar earlier observations is considered.

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Asfaw, L. Development of earthquake-induced fissures in the Main Ethiopian Rift. Nature 297, 393–395 (1982).

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