Earthquake shakes Kariba dam

The water level at the Kariba dam has shrunk to a near-record low. (AFP / Guillem Sartorio)

The Zimbabwe Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has confirmed that a moderate earthquake measuring 3.9 in magnitude was experienced in Kariba, on Saturday and no injuries were recorded.

A seismologist at the Bulawayo MSD, Mr Kwangwari Marimira, said most of the earth tremors which occur in the mid-Zambezi basin under which Lake Kariba falls, are called reservoir-induced earthquakes.

“An earthquake of magnitude 3,9 was experienced in Kariba on the 1st of June 2019 at 10:28 UTC and the local time was 12:28PM. The reports that we obtained from our personnel at Kariba Meteorological Office indicate that there were no casualties or injuries that were recorded. This was a moderate earthquake,” he said.

The earth tremor was felt in Kariba and surrounding areas.

“The epicentre of the earthquake was determined to be about: Longitude 16,770S and latitude 28,633E. The personnel at our Kariba Meteorological Office confirmed the shaking in Kariba as well as surrounding areas,” he said.

The quake has been attributed to the upward or downward variation in water levels in Lake Kariba with the Zambezi River Authority recording a steady rise in water levels over the last two months.

As of June 18, 2020 water levels had risen to 481,22m (40,97 percent of usable storage for power generation) compared to 479,63 (29,12 percent) on the same day in 2019.

“The determined earthquake parameters show that the earthquake occurred at Latitude -16.678S and Longitude 28.581E.The epicentre is in Kariba Dam and it was widely felt in Kariba urban,” said a report from MET Department.

Several people confirmed feeling the ground shaking and rattling of utensils in the house.

MSD said further investigation to determine the intensity of the earthquake and areas it affected were underway.

The epicentre of the earthquake has been determined to be in Kariba Dam.

“No reports of damage were received however more inquiries would be made to determine its intensity in the locality and to determine the exact areas it was felt,” reads a statement from MSD.

Since the filling of the lake in 1963, seismic activity has been recorded.

This is also compounded by the lake falling in the Mid-Zambezi basin.

According to a ZRA report, lake levels are rising steadily as inflows continue.

“The Lake level has continued rising steadily, closing the period under review at 481.22m (40.97% usable storage) on 18th June 2020. Last year on the same date, the Lake level was at 479.63m (29.12% usable storage),” reads the report.