In the wake of the recent Morocco earthquake incident that shook the region in September 2023, it has become imperative to examine the seismic landscape in neighbouring countries. This article delves into the “Probability of Earthquakes in Nigeria” by shedding light on the risks associated with seismic activity in this West African nation. Nigeria has a history of seismic events, with records dating back to 1939 when the first earthquake was recorded in Ibadan, Oyo State, where FarmingFarmersFarms, is situated.
These seismic events are not confined to a specific region, but are dispersed across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones. This piece has explored the distribution of earthquakes, the presence of seismic faults, the probable reasons behind earthquake occurrences, and the country’s seismic monitoring infrastructure. Additionally, we analyse recent earthquake forecasts in Nigeria, emphasising the importance of preparedness and response measures in the face of potential seismic risks.
Distribution of earthquakes
The seismic activity in Nigeria is not confined to specific regions, but is dispersed across the country’s six geopolitical zones. This includes the North-Central Zone (NC), North-East Zone (NE), North-West Zone (NW), South-East Zone (SE), South-South Zone (SS), and South-West Zone (SW). Of notable significance is the South-West Zone, which seems to have experienced a higher frequency of earthquakes when compared to other regions, making it particularly prone to seismic activity. A study on earthquake resistant construction (2013) revealed that in response to the recent earthquake incident in Morocco in September 2023, concerns have been raised regarding Nigeria’s susceptibility to similar seismic events, especially in the region.
Researchers and organisations such as the Nigerian Association of Water-Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners (AWDROP), have called upon the Nigerian government to take measures to limit or reduce the potential impact of earthquake aftermath. Dr. Adepelumi Adekunle Abraham and his team, from the Department of Geology at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, have warned of an impending danger, predicting a significant earthquake in Shaki, located in the South-West region of Nigeria. AWDROP has also drawn attention to the potential link, between underground water extraction and induced earthquakes, advocating for strict compliance with code of practice implementation. The recent events in Morocco serve as a stark reminder that seismic activity can have widespread and devastating consequences. As we explore the seismic landscape of Nigeria, it becomes evident that a deeper understanding of earthquake probabilities and the distribution of seismic risks is essential for effective preparedness and response strategies.
Seismic faults in Nigeria
Studies in geophysics have identified the presence of active seismic faults in Nigeria, shedding light on the country’s vulnerability to earthquakes. Notably, the Ifewara-Zungeru fault has been recognised due to its prominent presence in the South-West region of Nigeria. This fault, represented as a thick black line on the Nigerian map, extends through the Ifewara zone. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that the dispersed seismic activities in Nigeria may suggest the existence of other possible fault lines within the country. Among these potential fault lines are the Anka, Jushi Kwari-Akko, Dambata-Akko, and Kalangai faults, among others. The prevailing belief is that future earthquakes in Nigeria are likely to occur along these existing fault lines.
Likely causes for earthquake occurrence
The occurrence of earthquakes in Nigeria, once thought to be a seismically-stable region, has raised questions about the underlying causes. Researchers have explored several theories to elucidate why Nigeria experiences earthquakes. One prevailing theory suggests that the stresses generated, between the African plate and the southern American plate exert pressure on the coastal areas of Nigeria located within this boundary. These stresses, induced by the movements of these tectonic plates, can be transmitted to Nigeria, leading to earth tremors along fault lines within the country.
Additionally, geological factors play a role in seismic activity in Nigeria. Some believe that the geological location of Nigeria, shaped by orogenic deformations that occurred along the cratons over the years, contributes to the tremors experienced in the region. These ancient geological processes may continue to influence the country’s seismic activity. While Nigeria may not be classified as a high-seismic region like countries along plate boundaries, hence, it is essential to recognise that the nation is not immune to earthquakes. Recent seismic events serve as a reminder that understanding the geological and tectonic dynamics at play is crucial for assessing and mitigating earthquake risks. As we assess the seismic landscape of Nigeria, the presence of these active faults underscores the importance of proactive measures and preparedness in the face of potential seismic events. Understanding the locations and characteristics of these faults is a crucial step in mitigating the impact of earthquakes on communities and infrastructure.
Seismic stations in Nigeria
Until recent years, seismic data collection in Nigeria faced limitations, leaving gaps in the country’s understanding of earthquake activity. Many seismic events went undocumented, particularly during periods when the country lacked the technology to record them. However, there has been a gradual improvement in Nigeria’s seismic data collection efforts. This development has led to the establishment of five active seismic stations across the country, aimed at monitoring and studying seismic events. The Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics (CGG) Toro has taken on the responsibility of overseeing these stations. The currently active seismic stations are equipped with advanced technology, including 24-bit 4-channel data acquisition systems and broadband seismometers. To further enhance monitoring capabilities, telemetry equipment is expected to be incorporated into these stations in the near future.
These seismic stations mark a significant step towards improving Nigeria’s capacity to detect and record seismic events. Nevertheless, there are plans to expand the network of seismic stations throughout the country. This expansion will not only provide more comprehensive coverage, but also enhance the nation’s ability to monitor seismic activity and respond effectively to potential earthquakes. As Nigeria endeavours to strengthen its seismic monitoring infrastructure, it underscores the nation’s commitment to earthquake preparedness and risk reduction. This investment in technology and expertise is vital for safeguarding lives and property in the face of seismic events.
Earthquake forecast in Nigeria
Recent seismic alerts and warnings have drawn attention to Nigeria’s vulnerability to earthquakes, challenging the notion that the nation is seismically-stable. These forecasts, in response to the recent Morocco earthquake incident in September 2023, have sparked discussions on the extent and probability of future earthquakes in the country. One notable earthquake forecast, has raised concerns about seismic activity in Nigeria. The forecast suggests that a significant earthquake with a magnitude of ≥ 5.0 is likely to occur in the South-West part of Nigeria, between the years 2010 and 2028. What is particularly striking is the probability associated with this forecast, which escalates from 6% to a substantial 91.1% within this time frame. To address the knowledge gaps and uncertainties regarding the extent of probable future earthquakes in Nigeria, researchers have undertaken extensive studies (Ofuyatan et al, 2018).
Their research characterises Nigeria as a country with low seismicity, but their findings point to the potential for significant earthquakes, including those with magnitudes as high as 7.2, especially in the South-West region. While some may question the likelihood of Nigeria, categorised as a low-seismic country, experiencing such substantial earthquakes, it’s essential to remember that seismic events can occur unexpectedly even in regions traditionally considered low-risk. For instance, Antarctica, a region historically known for its minimal seismic activity, experienced an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 in 1998. These forecasts underscore the importance of preparedness and response measures in Nigeria, irrespective of its seismic classification. The recent Morocco earthquake incident serves as a poignant reminder of the unpredictable nature of seismic events, further emphasising the need for proactive measures and earthquake readiness.
Contrary to the widespread belief that Nigeria is a nation immune to seismic occurrences, an examination of seismic data reveals a different reality. Based on seismic parameters and recent forecasts, Nigeria’s seismicity is best characterised as low, challenging the perception of complete seismic stability. One of the critical findings is the forecast of significant earthquakes in Nigeria, particularly in the southwest region. Researchers predict the likelihood of earthquakes with magnitudes exceeding 5.0, with a substantial probability increase, between 2010 and 2028. Furthermore, studies indicate that Nigeria could potentially face earthquakes with magnitudes as high as 7.2, particularly in the southwestern part of the country.
These forecasts serve as a wake-up call, highlighting the need for a shift in perspective regarding Nigeria’s seismic risk profile. As evidenced by the recent Morocco earthquake incident in September 2023, seismic events can occur unexpectedly, even in regions traditionally considered low-risks. In light of these findings, it is imperative that Nigeria reevaluates its seismic preparedness and response strategies. The nation’s commitment to safeguarding lives and infrastructure in the face of potential earthquakes must be strengthened, recognising that seismic risks are an inherent part of its geological landscape.
The seismic landscape of Nigeria, long characterised by a perception of seismic stability, has undergone a transformation in our understanding. Contrary to the notion of Nigeria as a seismic-free nation, our exploration of seismic data and forecasts has led us to conclude otherwise. Nigeria’s seismicity is best classified as low, with the potential for significant earthquakes, including those exceeding a magnitude of 5.0 and up to 7.2, particularly in the South-West region. These findings challenge conventional wisdom and underscore the importance of acknowledging seismic risks, even in regions not traditionally associated with high seismic activity. As we reflect on the recent Morocco earthquake incident that shook the region in September 2023, it becomes evident that seismic events can have profound and far-reaching consequences, transcending geographic boundaries (Shannon et al, 2013). Nigeria’s commitment to preparedness and response measures is not only prudent but also imperative. In conclusion, Nigeria must embrace a paradigm shift in its approach to seismic risks. The nation’s seismic preparedness, infrastructure resilience, and response strategies must align with the new understanding of its seismic profile. The recent forecasts and data findings serve as a clarion call to safeguard lives and property, recognising that seismic risks are an inherent part of Nigeria’s geological reality.
In response to the evolving understanding of seismic risks in Nigeria, particularly in the wake of the recent Morocco earthquake incident in September 2023, several crucial recommendations are imperative. Firstly, comprehensive public awareness campaigns must be initiated to educate citizens on earthquake risks and safety measures, coupled with community-level preparedness initiatives. Building standards and codes should be revised and enforced, emphasising earthquake resilience, and existing structures must undergo retrofitting where necessary. Expanding the network of seismic monitoring stations and investing in advanced technology is essential for real-time data collection and analysis. Disaster response plans tailored to earthquake scenarios need to be developed and regularly updated. Collaborative research efforts and international cooperation should be encouraged to enhance predictive capabilities and risk assessments. Additionally, strict regulations governing underground water extraction should be implemented, and government policies should integrate earthquake risk mitigation strategies into national and regional development. Community engagement and regular risk assessments are also pivotal components of a holistic earthquake preparedness approach. These recommendations collectively underline the urgency of proactive measures to safeguard lives, property, and infrastructure against potential seismic events in Nigeria.
In the wake of the recent Morocco earthquake incident, our exploration of Nigeria’s seismic landscape has unearthed a paradigm shift in our understanding of the nation’s vulnerability to seismic events. While the seismicity of Nigeria may be classified as low, the potential for significant earthquakes, as high as 7.2 in magnitude, has emerged as a stark reality, particularly in the southwestern region. As we consider the implications of this seismic awakening, it is essential to recognise the interconnectedness of seismic risks with broader environmental and socio-economic factors. Nigeria, like many nations, faces a multitude of challenges that extend beyond earthquakes alone. Among these challenges, the environment and underreported issues in agriculture demand our attention.
Nigeria’s environment is under constant stress from factors such as deforestation, land degradation, pollution, and climate change. The seismic events discussed in this article add an additional layer of complexity to environmental considerations. Earthquakes can exacerbate existing environmental challenges, leading to soil liquefaction, landslides, and disruptions to ecosystems. Therefore, our commitment to earthquake preparedness should be accompanied by a broader dedication to environmental conservation and sustainability.
Underreported issues in agriculture: Agriculture remains the backbone of Nigeria’s economy, providing livelihoods for a significant portion of the population. However, underreported issues, including soil erosion, water scarcity, and changing weather patterns, threaten food security and agricultural productivity. As we contemplate the potential impacts of seismic events, it is crucial to address these agricultural challenges in tandem with earthquake preparedness efforts. Sustainable agricultural practices and innovative solutions are vital for securing the nation’s food supply. In closing, the seismic forecasts and findings presented in this article underscore the need for a holistic approach to risk mitigation and preparedness. Nigeria must embark on a journey that encompasses earthquake readiness, environmental stewardship, and agricultural resilience. The recent Morocco earthquake incident serves as a powerful reminder that our world is intricately connected, and our efforts to secure its future.