Seismological observations renewed in the Abkhazeti.

September 20, 2006 after 13 years seismological observations were renewed in the Abkhazeti. In the village Gentsvishi (Kodori gorge) Seismic station was installed. Territory of this most northwest part of Georgia is located along the main ridge of Greater Caucasus, thus subjected to considerable seismic activity. Before the 90-s number of seismic stations were working in the region, monitoring the seismic processes, but were completely destroyed during the war actions. Beside the seismic activity, complicated lithologic-tectonic composition of the region, strongly divided topography supports formation of exogenic processes. Main ridge of Caucasus as other huge mountain chains is characterized with quite complicated picture of Natural Hazards. It involves whole scale of catastrophes, not only Earthquakes but Avalanches, Mudflows, Landslides, Rock falls etc. Active faults and related seismic activation may trigger series of Natural hazards. Strong earthquakes, landslides, descent of glaciers, avalanches, soil effects, floods and dramatic changes in topography can integrate to a form of whole complex of natural catastrophes.

Main tectonic faults connected with great Caucasus are passing through Abkhazeti. As a recent example earthquake in Chkhalta in 1963 (Ms=6.4) occurred in most upper part of kodori river gorge, with macroseismic intensity I=9 can be discussed, clearly defining high seismic hazard in the region. Houses in six villages falling in 8-9 intensity zones were destroyed or heavily suffered from earth vibrations. This earthquake has once again demonstrated complex nature of natural catastrophes in Caucasus, generating whole spectra of catastrophes: up to twenty rock falls in total hundreds of million cubic meters of mass and number of landslides of various geo-lithological origins were generated.

 Management of natural hazards is extremely important for Abkhazeti region, where the majority of territories is subjected to tectonic movements and complicated topography. From this point of view special attention should be drown to mountainous regions of Georgia, where safety of local population, sustainable economical and demographic development strongly depends on realistic assessment of Natural Hazards.

After destroy of Soviet Union past 10-15 years were characterized with tremendous cataclysms in Georgian economy, leading to catastrophic consequences for local population. Bloody conflicts in Abxazeti and Samachablo regions, ended up with more than 300,000 refuges and still remains unsolved problem for Georgian state. Plans for peaceful negotiation of these conflicts have economical development of the region as a keystone for its political solution. During the past 15 years a lot of problems have accumulated in social and economical spheres of life in the both parts of the Abkhazeti region, controlled by Georgian state and controlled by self declared Abkhazian government. As it was mentioned earlier sustainable development in such complicated areas is impossible without detailed assessment of Natural hazard and corresponding risks.

First steps towards solving above mentioned tasks were made recently, after reestablishment of Georgian state control on upper part of Abkhazeti. Group of seismologists and technicians from Seismic Monitoring Center have organized a field trip to Upper Abkhazia (Kodori gorge) on September 18-22 to install modern seismic equipment. Initially it was planned to reinstall equipment in old seismic station in Ajara village, but due to a lot of constructions started recently seismic noise level at the site appeared to be rather high, for the modern, extremely sensitive, equipment. As an alternate site in the village Gentsvishi was selected, with much better noise conditions. Short period sensor of US origin – Mark 3D was installed coupled with 24 bit data acquisition system TURA developed at Seismic Monitoring Center. While selecting the installation site future plans for online data transmission were also considered. Meanwhile the equipment is working in continuous recording mode storing data locally in 2.5 “ HDD. Seismograph is served by local civilian.

In future it is planned to install so called broad band seismic equipment, instead of short period, providing seismologist with maximally unaffected records of true ground vibration. Satellite internet connection will be used for online data transmission, enabling inclusion of Gentsvishi seismic station in international seismic observation system, part of which is Seismic Monitoring center of Georgia. Seismic station will serve as a base for training center in Earth sciences and Environmental studies, to be created by SMC. In the center local population and especially pupils from local schools will study the sources of natural catastrophes, the methods of defense from it, questions concerning environmental protection, other geological-geophysical problems, modern technologies used in these directions.

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