The role of geological factors on the destruction of Bam city due to the recent earthquake

Document Type : Original Research


1 Department of Geology, Faculty of Science, Ferdowsi University, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Geology, Faculty of Basic Science, Technical University of Shahrood, Shahrood, Iran


On Friday, December 26, 2003 at 1:55:56 GMT (5:25:56 local time), a powerful earthquake of moment magnitude (Mw) about 6.5 struck the ancient city of Bam and neighboring villages in the southeastern region of Iran. The highest death has been reported for this earthquake among all earthquakes in the world in the year 2003. About 70% of buildings in the city were damaged by the earth quake and more than 26000 people were killed. The main reason for such major damage may be weak adobe and brick structures. However, the damage was unexpectedly great for this magnitude. The city is located over low strength of fine grained soils such as silt with low cohesiveness and therefore, this is one of the main reasons for such large-scale destruction by the earthquake. This paper deals with the high damages in the city based on geology, tectonics and directivity of earthquake waves and also geotechnical parameters.