Estimating the maximum earthquake magnitude in the Iranian Plateau

Milad Kowsari*, Hamed Ghazi, Andrzej Kijko, Hamid Reza Javadi, Elham Shabani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Iranian Plateau has been subjected to destructive earthquakes throughout its history. Reliable assessment of the seismic hazard in this earthquake-prone region is therefore essential. Our study focuses on estimating the maximum earthquake magnitude as one of the main parameters of seismic hazard analysis. We implemented two quantitative approaches, namely, probabilistic and deterministic. The probabilistic method allows combining the historical (i.e. incomplete) and the instrumental parts of a catalogue with different levels of completeness and considers the uncertainties in earthquake magnitude determination. In this study, we used a unified, declustered, and complete catalogue of earthquakes in Iran, covering the period from the fourth century BC to 2019. We calculated the maximum possible magnitudes for hundreds of grid points by using the seismicity data in a 200-km radial region around each grid point. The maximum possible earthquake was observed to vary between 6.0 and 8.2, and the highest values were found in the Alborz-Azarbayejan seismotectonic province, Kopeh-Dagh, central east Iran, Makran, and the southeast Zagros. The lowest mmax values were found in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Platform, Esfahan-Sirjan region, and the Dasht-e-Kavir Desert in central Iran. As a second part to this study, we calculated the maximum credible earthquakes for 1103 identified major faults by using five empirical magnitude-scaling relationships. Our results were consistent with both the observed earthquakes and the seismic potential of the various seismogenic zones of Iran. The study results can be used in future seismic hazard analyses and have fundamental implications for mitigating seismic risk in Iran.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-862
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Seismology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

Other keywords

  • Deterministic approach
  • Iran seismicity
  • Maximum earthquake magnitude
  • Probabilistic approach
  • Seismic hazard


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