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Paleoseismology and earthquake hazards of Northern Kyrgyzstan


Paleoseismic history and earthquake hazards of Northern Kyrgyzstan (Northern Tien Shan)

Tech Area / Field

  • OBS-NAT/Natural Resources and Earth Sciences/Other Basic Sciences
  • OBS-GEO/Geology/Other Basic Sciences

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Kyrgyz-Russian Slavonic University, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek


  • University of Texas at El Paso, USA, TX, El Paso

Project summary

The objective of this Project is to provide a new earthquake hazard assessment for Northern Kyrgyzstan based on the spatial-temporal analysis of instrumental and historical seismic data and findings of paleoseismic and archeoseismic investigations.
The research focuses on Northern Kyrgyzstan. The choice of the region is informed by its location within the Northern Tien Shan, which is the Himalayan northern front and one of the most seismically active areas in the world that witnessed a unique series of catastrophic seismic events in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The project is a fundamental research that aims to achieve the following:
    1. Model the modern block structure of Northern Kyrgyzstan using advanced GIS technologies; identify and describe quantitatively major seismogenic features (seismogenic clusters, active faults and folds) with which the epicenters of instrumental and historical earthquakes are associated.
    2. Identify formerly unknown prehistoric and historical earthquakes using paleoseismic and archeoseismic methods and measure their parameters; build an earthquake catalog (database) and a map showing the epicenter zones of newly identified prehistoric and historical earthquakes in Northern Kyrgyzstan.
    3. Update the seismicity and earthquake hazard model of Northern Kyrgyzstan using the instrumental and historical earthquake database and newly collected paleoseismic and archeoseismic data; develop a new seismic hazard map for Northern Kyrgyzstan.
The research findings will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and will be available for the international scientific community. The research will play an important role in studying the seismology and active tectonic settings of the Tien Shan and adjacent regions. The proposed paleoseismic methodology comprises a combination of methods used in structural geomorphology, paleoseismology, archeoseismology and seismotectonics and can be adapted to any seismically active intracontinental orogenic belt.

The seismic hazard assessment of Northern Kyrgyzstan is a vital task, considering relatively high population density in some parts of the area and the presence of toxic and radioactive waste storage, mining and energy facilities and tourism infrastructure. With regard to this, the results of this project might be of interest to government agencies and ministries of the Kyrgyz Republic, private businesses and investors. The saleable products of the proposed project include a range of cartographic materials (maps), catalogs and databases.

The project is based on comprehensive research that will use a combination of geomorphological, seismotectonic, paleoseismological and archeoseismological methods. Since no such research has been undertaken in Northern Kyrgyzstan before, its findings are expected to be of significant interest to the international scientific community.

The professional competence of the project team is demonstrated by successful implementation of other similar ISTC, INTAS, US CRDF, NATO projects and numerous (over 600) scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals.
The project is completely in line with the strategy and objectives of ISTC. The project will allow researchers in the ex-Soviet countries who work in the national security and defense sectors to refocus their efforts on peaceful activities, establish scientific, business and informal contacts with their colleagues from the USA, Europe and other countries, and contribute to the development of science in the Kyrgyz Republic. The adoption of new research methods and approaches, experience sharing and co-authored publications with the project collaborators will accelerate the integration of Kyrgyz scientists in the international scientific community.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


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