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The Spitak (Armenia) earthquake of 7 December 1988: field observations, seismology and tectonics


The epicentre of the destructive earthquake that devastated northern Armenia, the strongest in the region since historical times, is located within the Lesser Caucasus, a mountain country subjected to north–south compression by the push of the Arabian plate. A French-Soviet field expedition studied surface breaks and aftershock activity. The fault scarp could be followed for 13 kilometres and showed a reverse dislocation of 1.6 metres. Aftershocks are shallower than 13 kilometres, and delimit a ruptured surface of about 300km2.

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Cisternas, A., Philip, H., Bousquet, J. et al. The Spitak (Armenia) earthquake of 7 December 1988: field observations, seismology and tectonics. Nature 339, 675–679 (1989).

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