Assia Harbi was born in El Harrouch (Skikda, former Philippeville of northeast Algeria) and obtained a Master in geophysics and PhD in seismology at the University of Algiers in 2006. To adequately portray Assia Harbi’s subsequent three decades of impressive accomplishments in seismology would require many more words than what it is written here. My aim is therefore to present an account of the projects and collaborative work developed by Assia at the Research Centre of Astronomy and Geophysics (CRAAG). We were colleagues at the same research center from 1990 to 1993 and kept a close collaboration since then. Assia’s chosen research direction was not an easy one, but she was committed to the complicated task of a case-by-case reappraisal of historical earthquakes. Her primary objective was to collect reliable and detailed earthquake data from historical documents, old letters, press reports, and eyewitness accounts to construct macroseismic intensity maps. Her other objective was to develop a catalogue with parametric data and calculate intensity. The catalogue included damage distribution, magnitude, accurate earthquake location and estimated depth, level of ground motion and correlation with tectonic structures. She collected data of many historical earthquakes for which only a few seismic events had been published. Thanks to her contribution, the seismicity catalogue of Algeria and Tunisia became parametric and at present also includes some of the well-studied seismic events in the Maghreb region. Her outstanding effort in enhancing the parametric catalogue has definite implications for seismic hazard and risk assessment of northern Algeria. Assia was a tireless scientist driven by her enthusiasm, curiosity, and sense of completed task work. Assia was a visiting scientist invited in 2007 and 2008 as a research fellow at the Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre de Strasbourg, and we worked closely for the reappraisal of historical earthquake studies of Algeria and Tunisia. Thanks to her appointment as Associate Professor in 2004 at the Abdusalam International Centre Theoretical of Physics (ICTP, Trieste, Italy), she led the North African Group of Earthquake and Tsunami studies (funded by UNESCO-ICTP Trieste) and contributed significantly to the launch of the African Seismological Commission (AfSC) and UNESCO- IUGS-IGCP 601-659 projects on estimating the seismic hazard and risk in Africa (Seismotectonic Map of Africa). She has also acted as Vice-President of the Arab Geosciences Union since 2016. Her commitment to these projects opened the door to many young scientists and among them women researchers for training sessions in seismology, seismotectonics and seismic hazard assessment. She obtained the ICTP Simons Fellow distinction in 2014, the Hypatia Science Prize award in 2021. Recently, the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics in Egypt (NRIAG, Cairo) established a prize for the young seismologist named after Assia Harbi. Assia left us too early because some historical earthquakes still need her “diagnosis” and “remedy” said her husband and colleague Saïd Maouche. However, with her rigorous scientific approach and proactive engagement with students and young researchers, Assia forged a path for the construction of a rich parametric seismicity catalogue. We deeply regret her passing and hold her forever in our memory.
Her publications are accessible at: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=fr&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=Assia+Harbi&oq=assia
Mustapha Meghraoui, President of the African Seismological Commission, EOST – ITES, Strasbourg, France