Probabilistic Seismic-Hazard Analysis for the Western Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Professional Paper 1862-Q
Jointly published with the Saudi Geological Survey [as Saudi Geological Survey Special Report SGS–SP–2021–1]
By: , and 



We present a probabilistic seismic-hazard analysis (PSHA) for the west-central part of the Arabian Peninsula. Our study area includes the northern Harrat Rahat volcanic field and the nearby city of Al Madīnah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This young, active volcanic field experienced one historical eruption in 1256 C.E. (654 in the year of the Hijra) that vented 20 to 22 kilometers (km) southeast of the center of Al Madīnah, which has a present population of about 1.4 million. The field also erupted numerous times in the late Pleistocene and possibly in the early Holocene. We used recently developed regional ground-motion prediction equations for Saudi Arabia to calculate the severity of ground shaking as a function of distance from the earthquake source. This information was combined with two key volcanic parameters for this area: (1) the return period of volcanic eruptions and (2) the spatial probability of the next vent opening. The calculated ground-motion levels of peak ground acceleration and peak ground velocity with a 2-percent probability of exceedance in 50 years are expected to be about 0.14 the acceleration due to gravity (g) and 10 centimeters per second (cm/s), respectively, at the most probable vent opening location, about 25 km southeast of Al Madīnah’s center, and about 0.07 g and 3 cm/s, respectively, in the city interior. These ground motions are higher than previous estimates that did not consider the nearby earthquakes associated with volcanic activity.

Suggested Citation

Kiuchi, R., Mooney, W.D., and Zahran, H.M., 2023, Probabilistic seismic-hazard analysis for the western Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, chap. Q of Sisson, T.W., Calvert, A.T., and Mooney, W.D., eds., Active volcanism on the Arabian Shield—Geology, volcanology, and geophysics of northern Harrat Rahat and vicinity, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1862 [also released as Saudi Geological Survey Special Report SGS–SP–2021–1], 15 p.,

ISSN: 2330-7102 (online)

ISSN: 1044-9612 (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Probabilistic seismic-hazard analysis for the western Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 1862
Chapter Q
DOI 10.3133/pp1862Q
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description v, 15 p.
Country Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details