Reducing Earthquake Losses in the Northeast Asia Region (RELNAR) programme
The Asian region has the highest level of seismicity on the planet; consequently it has suffered from many of the largest earthquakes in history. The majority of earthquakes in the Asian region originate in areas of plate convergence where one tectonic plate slides beneath another plate (subduction zones). However, large earthquakes are not always associated with subduction zones. Faults where horizontal motion takes place (strike-slip faults) also generate devastating earthquakes. Strike-slip faults in China and Mongolia are responsible for numerous destructive earthquakes, often with magnitudes between 6.0 and 7.5 and occasionally greater than 8.0.
In response to this risk, most nations have increased the number and quality of seismic stations used to monitor earthquake activity. The optimal use of this data for regional earthquake monitoring is a major challenge that will require the exchange of data, software, and expertise among the interested nations.
UNESCO has recently explored the possibility of pursuing a cooperative activity on earthquake data analysis, which will be jointly promoted by UNESCO and the USGS, in the sub-region of North East Asia comprising the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation.
Beyond its scientific value, the project offers a forum for scientists and engineers from various countries - presenting a diversity of contexts - to work together under UNESCO’s umbrella and discuss regional approaches to improve collaboration in earthquake data exchange and analysis. The first meeting was successfully held in China in December 2009, hosted by the China Earthquake Administration, under the aegis of UNESCO, in cooperation with the USGS.
The next RELNAR workshop is planned to be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in 2011, hosted by the Research Centre for Astronomy and Geophysics of Mongolia.