(Al Jazeera Media Network) The earthquake’s epicentre was the Ighil area, a mountainous rural commune home to small farming villages in the al-Haouz province near the ski resort of Oukaimeden in the Atlas Mountains.
Lanchen Haddad, a Moroccan senator and former minister, told Al Jazeera the area was “not known for being active in terms of earthquakes.”
The epicentre, he said, was near some “very difficult terrain” and is home to the Tizi-n-Test, a small pass in the High Atlas Mountains that can be crossed by a road connecting Marrakesh and the southwestern city of Taroudant.
“There’s not been very many earthquakes in that part of Morocco, most occur in the area much farther north on the Mediterranean coast near the tectonic plate,” said Chris Elders, a structural geologist from Australia’s Curtin University.
“The Atlas Mountains are a zone of weakness within Morocco with a very long geological history. Stresses build up in those areas. Africa is moving north towards Europe, and that is what caused the earthquake to occur in this particular area.”