BSSA Call for Papers

Earthquakes in Slowly Deforming Mountain Belts: The 2023 Moroccan High Atlas Earthquake and the 2023 western Afghanistan Mw 6.3 earthquake quadruplet

Call for Papers in French

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The Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA) is soliciting papers for a Special Issue on earthquakes in slowly deforming mountain belts, with a focus on the 2023 Moroccan High Atlas earthquake and the 2023 western Afghanistan earthquake quadruplet. Click here to read an interview with BSSA Editor-in-Chief P. Martin Mai on what prompted the journal to create a Special Issue dedicated to these earthquakes.

The Mw 6.8 High Atlas, Morocco, earthquake occurred on 8 September 2023 (UTC 22:10) at a depth of ≥10 km and was followed by an aftershock sequence including an Mw 4.9 the same day. This is the largest recorded instrumental earthquake to have affected Morocco and the most damaging one since the 1960 Agadir earthquake (Mw 5.9). The earthquake caused widespread damage and devastation to villages, towns, and infrastructure in the mountainous region of the High Atlas, claiming ~3000 lives and affecting ~2.8 million people in the wider area south-west of Marrakesh.

Only one month later, a devastating quadruplet of four Mw 6.3 earthquakes (and several Mw > 5 aftershocks) occurred in western Afghanistan (07-15 October 2023) that killed thousands of people and destroyed villages and towns near the city of Herat, a provincial capital in western Afghanistan. In the recent past, the immediate region of these earthquakes has been relatively quiet seismically, however, sporadic seismicity in the wider area indicates current tectonic deformation.

Earthquakes like the recent earthquakes in Morocco and Afghanistan are painful reminders of the seismic hazard that exists even in slowly deforming mountain belts away from major plate boundaries. Slow deformation rates may translate to infrequent earthquake occurrence, which often lead to limited hazard preparation and mitigation strategies, aggravated due to poor construction style. In this Special Issue, BSSA aims to focus on the seismological work being undertaken in these regions, particularly by local researchers and institutions, and to raise global awareness of seismic hazard and risk arising from local traditional construction practices in remote rural mountain regions.

We solicit contributions from all fields of earthquake science, earthquake engineering, but also social sciences, to shed light on seismic hazard assessment and risk mitigation in regions like the High Atlas or similar tectonic environment. The seismotectonic context, remote-sensing imagery and field investigations suggests that the 8 September 2023 mainshock in Morocco was a blind thrust rupture. Hypocentral locations of the Afghanistan earthquakes indicate an eastward migration of the sequence. These earthquakes also raise numerous questions related to geodynamics, seismotectonics, strain partitioning, distributed faulting and earthquake triggering, seismic source characteristics, near- and far-field ground motions, near-field damage, rockfall distributions, and seismic hazard of slowly deforming mountain belts.

BSSA welcomes contributions to the Special Issue that focus on these and other scientific aspects of these earthquakes.

Guest Editors for this Special Issue:

Deadline for Submission: 31 May 2024

Articles accepted to this BSSA Special Issue will be published online soon after acceptance and collectively in print in the December 2024 issue. Papers will be reviewed as they are received and published online prior to the print issue.

In preparing manuscripts, authors must follow the BSSA author guidelines at

Papers must be submitted via the BSSA online submission system ( under the category “Earthquakes in Slowly Deforming Mountain Belts.”

Please address questions about scientific issues to the guest editors or BSSA Editor-in-Chief P. Martin Mai at  Submission-related questions should be addressed to the BSSA Editorial Office at