The Caucasus is a region of numerous natural and manmade hazards and ensuing disasters. Analysis of the losses due to past disasters indicates that those most catastrophic in the region have historically been due to strong earthquakes, dating back as far as the 19th millennium B.C.
In more recent times, seismic risk in the region has reached its highest level over the entire historical period of the existence of the Caucasus countries. This is due in large part not only to the increased population and urbanization but also to the recurring cycle of high seismic activity leading to a high probability of new strong seismic events. In addition, the relatively low seismic resistance of existing buildings and structures when compared to the actual level of seismic hazard, poor preparedness of the population and government agencies, difficult economic conditions, political problems, and many other social and economic problems add to the already high seismic vulnerability of the countries in the region.
The impact of an earthquake is not only limited to direct losses, such as losses of life, building damages, and business disruptions. Earthquakes also cause indirect losses by producing supply shortages and demand reductions in various economic sectors that do not sustain direct damage. Indirect losses have a ripple effect that is transmitted throughout the regional economy and the social fabric. In a country with a fragile economy such as Armenia or Georgia, a large earthquake can actually contribute to an economic or governmental collapse.
Seismic faults and the ensuing hazards due to these fault zones have no state boundaries, and a catastrophe in the region could easily damage neighboring countries. Taking this into consideration as well as the great interest of each state in the region in protecting its own population and sustainable economic development, the problem of earthquake hazard assessment and risk reduction in the Caucasus countries is essential to all countries of the region.
The main objective of the project is to establish a basis for further seismic risk reduction studies in the Caucasus region. The main tasks of the project are:
Seismic hazard assessment
Calibration for determination of sites for regional seismic stations and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) monitoring
Seismic risk assessment and training
Seven institutions from Armenia and Georgia will participate in the project:
National Survey for Seismic Protection under the Government of the Republic of Armenia
Armenian Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior