Moscow Situated in Seismically Active Zone

Moscow building company do not pay attention to geophysical processes

The Moscow City Duma has recently held a session of the expert committee for the issues of housing and communal reform in Moscow. The discussion was devoted to the seismic activity of the earth crust in the area, where Moscow is situated.

Everyone is used to believe that Moscow is located in a safe area from the seismic point of view. As it turns out, local earthquakes have been registered on the territory of the Russian capital over several recent decades. Seismologists even predicted the increase of the seismic activity, which would be caused with people’s uncontrollable activities.

Ida Pomerantseva from the geophysical research institute said that Soviet scientists developed a unique method during the second half of the past century. The method of the seismic exploration allows to study both the depth of the Earth and the seismic activity. The method was widely used in scientists' work, because it was ecologically safe and it used compact mobile equipment.

For the first time, the seismic exploration method was used in the Soviet Union in 1966-1967 in the city of Tashkent, the capital of the Uzbekistan republic. In Moscow, the research was conducted during the period of 1988-1992. A hundred and thirty-four observation points have been set up in Moscow. Scientists created the map of the Khoroshevsky district of Moscow, where two unstable geodynamic zones are located. One can suppose that the mentioned district is the most dangerous one in the Russian capital. One building was demolished in the Khoroshevsky district of Moscow, for it was situated on the spot of the earth crust fracture. Vertical cracks appeared in the walls of another building for the same reason.

In addition to that, seismically dangerous areas affect the properties of the rock underneath. Seismologists found several districts in Moscow, where the rock demolition made up 90 percent. This means that rock turns to dust, forming hollows. As Ida Pomerantseva said, our ancestors selected not a  very good place.

Unstable geodynamic zones and fractures are supposed to be taken into consideration for construction of new buildings and their exploitation. For the time being, building companies pay attention to soil, ignoring the rock demolition at the depth of 70 meters, underflooding and repeated earthquakes. In addition to that, the Moscow seismic service considerably underestimates the destructive effect of remote earthquakes. As the research showed, remote quakes might have the magnitude of 4,5, whereas the destructive effect of local quakes reaches 2,5.

In 2002-2003, the Moscow committee for science and technologies provided the financial support for the research to develop a complex of seismic monitoring on the entire Moscow territory. The research is supposed to determine the influence that remote and local earthquakes exert on buildings, and to find the areas, where natural and man-caused catastrophes are possible to happen. This research has a very special significance, although the lack of money does not allow to conduct it fully. The Russian Natural Resources Ministry refused to fund the works. As ministerial officials claimed, the research was based in Moscow, which implied that it should be paid by the Moscow government. Deputy Vladimir Vasilyev believes that the budget of the city is supposed to have the funds for such resources.

The participants of the meeting also pointed out the need to develop a special legal base for builders and architects in connection with the Moscow geodynamics. About 80 percent of Moscow's new buildings, including prestigious residential complexes, were built in fracture zones, which might cause unpredictable lamentable consequences in the future.

The participants of the meeting recommended the Natural Resources Ministry to develop a draft program for ecological and geodynamic safety in Moscow. The program is supposed to provide construction safety and monitoring in connection with dangerous geological and geodesic process. Adequate departments of the Moscow government are supposed to develop the legal base for the implementation of the program.

On the photo: Scarlet Sails (Aliye Parusa), one of the largest prestigious residential complexes


Lyudmila Stoletneva
Moscow City Duma press center

Author`s name Olga Savka