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Regional International Training Course on Seismology and Seismic Hazard Assessment Nairobi, Kenya 05 October to 08 November 1997

Report on the Course

This training course was jointly organized and run by the GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ) and the University of Nairobi. It is part of the ?capacity buildingò educational programme of UNESCO and of the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth Interior (IASPEI) and one of the major and regular German contributions to the United Nations International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR). The course was co-sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office (AA), the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ), UNESCO, the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Incorporated Research Institution for Seismology (IRIS/USA). It was attended by 18 participants from 12 African countries: Algeria (4), Botswana, Egypt, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan (2), Tanzania (2) and Zambia. A total of 20 lecturers from 9 countries covered the scientific topics of the course, amongst them 7 from the GFZ, 4 from the University of Nairobi, 2 from IRIS and one each from Algeria, Ethiopia, France, Germany (University of Karlsruhe), Norwey, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Course Contents

The course consisted of introductory lectures, extended practical exercises, workshop sessions and discussions and was complemented by scientific field excursions to seismological stations of the Kenyan network, to famous geological outcrops, seismotectonic features and volcanogenic objects. Main course topics were:

  • Causes of geological hazards and strategies of risk mitigation with emphasis on Africa
  • Basics of seismology, seismometry and seismic data acquisition
  • Seismological observatory practice
  • Earthquake source parameters, mechanisms and energy release
  • Earthquake hazard assessment and disaster prevention
  • Direct and induced effects of strong earthquake ground motion
  • Status of earthquake prediction research

Future Courses

These anual GFZ training courses for the benefit of postgraduate participants from earthquake prone developing countries are held alternatingly at Potsdam, Germany, and - every second year - in developing regions. The next regional course is planned for Asian countries in 1999 in China on the invitation of the State Seismological Bureau. But there will be no training course in Potsdam during 1998 because of a large international IDNDR conference on "Early Warning Systems for the Reduction of Natural Disasters" (EWC98) at the GFZ in September this year. More information about this conference and the training courses www.gfz-potsdam.de/ewc98 as well as related registration/application procedures www.gfz-potsdam.de/pb2/pg2/Kurs/course1e.html one may find on the GFZ home page. Those with no www access may contact for further information:

Prof. Dr.J. Zschau GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ) Director, Division of Solid Earth Physics and Disaster Research Telegrafenberg, Haus E D-14473 Potsdam, Germany

Fax: +49 331 288 1504 E-mail: ewc98@gfz-potsdam.de

or the course chairman, Prof. Dr. P. Bormann (same address and e-mail course@gfz-potsdam.de).

Figure captions:

Figure 1: Training session during the Nairobi training course on seismometer response calculations (Photo: P. Bormann)

Figure 2: Visit of the seismometer tunnel of Kilimambogo broadband station, Kenya (Photo: P. Bormann)

Figure 3: Group discussions during a geological field trip, Nairobi training course (Photo: P. Bormann)

Memorandum of Understanding

Participants attending the Regional International Course on ?Seismology and Seismic Hazard Assessmentò in Nairobi, Kenya, from 6th October to 8th November 1997 observed at the end of the course that the existence of seismic hazard is real for most, if not all countries of Africa. It was also apparent that most of the countries of Africa are not ready yet in terms of mitigation efforts to meet the effects of even moderate earthquakes.

While a few countries, particularly in Eastern, Southern and Northern Africa have some recording equipment with several having working observatories, most, if not all of the countries of West and Central Africa have little or nothing. Ironically, many of these countries face a real threat of destructive earthquakes.

It was also observed that many of the countries in Africa do not have the personnel to undertake seismic studies and seismic hazard assessment, neither is there the capability to train any. During the passed serveral years, the East African countries have had a working group wherby seismologists of the sub-regions meet at regular intervals to work together on their recordings and exchange ideas. More impartantly, they have been able to harmonize their source parameter determinations and, in some cases, even compare and standardize equipment. In so doing, they have developed, with the help of European contries like Germany and Sweden, as well as the United States, capabilities that they can share with some countries of Africa.

While participants felt strongly that there was the need to maintain and strengthen the contacts that have been established during the course, it was obvious that a continent-wide grouping was still too early at this stage. It was, therefore, decided that also the countries of West and North Africa should establish sub-regional working groups along the lines of the East Africa group. All these sub-regional groups should exchange information and maintain regular contacts with a view to eventually coming together to form some kind of an African Seismological Association.

Consequently, the following were nominated to serve as initional co-ordinators for the two sub-regions of

North Africa Ms. Harbi Assia, CRAAG, Algeria

West Africa Dr. Amos Ofori Quaah, GNCP/National Disaster Management, Ghana.

Additionally, the East African group was requested to consider broadening of its membership by way of including Sudan and other countries of Central and Southern Africa.

Professor Bormann, the course director, offered to assist the various groupings in any way he could, also through relevant IASPEI bodies, to ensure that these goals can be achieved.

Nairobi, 7 November 1997 Rapporteur: Dr. A. Ofori Quaa