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Tectonic Movements, a Real Threat for Masuleh

By Soudabeh Sadigh

Studies by the research center of Iran's Ministry of Housing show that aggregation of rain water in the upper valleys and tectonic movements resulting in the shift of mountains seriously threaten Masuleh village, northern Iran.

Tehran, 7 January 2007 (CHN) -- Based on recent studies, Saeed Hashemi Tabatabayi, director of the geotechnical department of Iran's Ministry of Housing and Urban Development warns on potential dangers to the historical village of Masuleh, located in the Iranian northern province of Gilan, as a result of tectonic movements and the aggregation of raining water in the upper valleys.

Last spring, experts warned that a shift has been observed in the position of some mountains in Masuleh region. This prompted the Iranian Ministry of Housing and Urban Development undertake intensive research and field studies in the area to find the cause of such movement.

"Aggregation of too much water in the upper catchment areas in the region is a matter of great concern. The level of water in a valley in the upper parts of Masuleh, from which the water flows to different surrounding rivers of the village, has reached to about 8 meters, something unprecedented in the recent decades. This is a serious warning sign which must be taken seriously," explained Hashemi.

Last year, the eruption of water from one of the sub-basins of Mil-e Larzan, a catchment basin in the area, led to death of 40 people in Masuleh. According to the director of geotechnical department of Iran's Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, this basin is still considered a real threat to the region. On the other hand, since Masuleh is located on a mountain skirt with a steep slope, experts warned that the sediments formed throughout the years in Mil-e Larzan could overflow at any time and run to the entire village.

Due to its special geographical situation, tectonic movements as apparent by the shift in the positions of the mountains in Masuleh have raised great concerns over the fate of this historic village. This is while Masuleh has several times been quivered due to such movements in the past few years, leaving many dead and injured.

Prior to the recent studies by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, not much was done to combat the threats to Masuleh. However, the Iranian authorities are now trying to find an appropriate solution to this crisis through geological studies in the region.

Located in a beautiful valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains in northern Iran, the village of Masuleh is registered as a National Heritage Site. Although Masuleh is close to the Caspian Sea, it is 1050 meters above the sea level.

The history of Masuleh dates back to 10th century AD. Due to its natural beauty and other unique characteristics, this beautiful village is one of the main tourism destinations in Gilan province which attracts large numbers of tourists each year. The most important feature that highlights the village is its unique architectural style. Houses in Masuleh are built in a such a way that the front porch of one neighbor is another's rooftop.

The village has been dubbed a case model for the development of mountainous ecotourism in Iran by UNESCO.

... Payvand News - 1/8/07 ... --

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