Within the last 16 years, Kabul, the capital and largest city of Afghanistan witnessed a development it had never seen. Many commercial and private high rise buildings in the mud-brown landscape of this city represent a new modernity. However, the seismological literature indicates that the safety assessment of the existing structures and those to build in future, with respect to ground motion variation is probably not studied. In this study, we used a stochastic point source modeling to estimate the ground motion variation at Kabul city by simulating the Mw 7.5 Hindu Kush earthquake that occurred on 2015 October 26 at a depth of 210 km. The earthquake was due to thrust faulting. The impact of this high magnitude earthquake was predominantly felt in Kabul and surrounding areas that killed around 267 people and damaged about 11,389 houses. We calculated the base-rock and surface acceleration at several sites in the epicentral region. The peak ground accelerations are compared with the acceleration records taken in Afghanistan. Although the strong motion instrumentation of Afghanistan is none, this study might be an important contribution of the seismic vulnerability of major settlements in Afghanistan.

1 Introduction

Kabul the capital of Afghanistan (34.55° N, 69.20° E), and the most populated (about 4.6 million, Kabul, World Population Review, 2017) and fastest growing city of the country is one of the largest cities (64th) in the world. Kabul city is located in the southern east earthquake region of Afghanistan, the region with most severe seismicity (Wheeler and others, 2005) in the country near where three main faults meet and form a junction (Figure 1). This region lies near the Eurasia and Indian plates boundary considered one of the most seismically active regions worldwide. This region has experienced great earthquakes and has caused immense damage to lives and properties. Pamir and Hindu Kush where continental deep earthquakes take place also lies near this region in about 300km on the North of Kabul. The M7.5 Hindu-Kush earthquake of October 26 2015 with the epicenter 45 km north of Alaqahdari-ye Kiran wa Munjan, Afghanistan at a depth of 212 km with a death tool of approximately 400 people, mostly in Pakistan. This earthquake was recorded at several regional accelerographic strong ground motion stations.

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