Numerous historical reports of earthquakes in the Levant, including their damages and effects, have been accumulating for the last 3,000 years. Most of the seismic activity is associated with the Dead Sea Transform (DST), the plate border between Arabia and Sinai. In this work we focus on the central and southern parts of the DST, where Israel and its surroundings have repeatedly suffered damage. Much of the relevant reports were previously gathered and organized in catalogues and lists. However, some of the early cataloguers did not screen the historical sources and thus their information cannot be taken for granted. In modern times, however, reviewed catalogues have been presented that took care of this shortcoming and consequently provided updated and more reliable information. Yet, the bulk of that data has not yet been fully analyzed, particularly the spatial distribution of the damage. We have collected information associated with damaging events that occurred from the second millennia BCE to the first event recorded by modern instruments in 1927 CE. At the first stage we screened each of the historical reports, determined its reliability, and then characterized the events by date, size, type and approximate geographic origin. At the same time, we related the damage reports to geographic coordinates, approximate severity, and accompanying environmental effects. Finally, we stored these records in a GIS-based relational database constructed so as to enable flexible queries and data manipulations. Preliminary results of frequency-magnitude relations show that the list of events seems to be complete for the estimated magnitudes M > 7, M > 5.5 and M ≥ 5 in the last two millennia, since 1, 500 CE and since 1, 800 CE, respectively. Temporal distribution of the events indicates three periods of relatively intense seismic activity: (1) between the 4th to mid 8th century, followed by almost total silence of reports; (2) from the beginning of the 11th to the beginning of the 13th century; and (3) from the beginning of the 19th century until 1927 CE. While the latter period probably reflects the expansion of media and communication whereby almost every one of the felt events was reported, the first two intervals need further explanation. Most of the damage reported was from the long-term inhabited cities in central and northern Israel, giving us a broad perspective in time and space. It seems that earthquakes that originated north of Israel (e.g., in 1170, 1202, 1759, and 1837) or in the southern part of the DST (e.g., 1068) affected larger areas than those originating in central Israel. For the latter events, two groups could be distinguished: (1) events with more or less similar damage distribution, extending from the Galilee in the north to the northern Negev in the south as well as to localities east of the Jordan River (e.g., in 363, 749, 1033 and 1927); and (2) events that damaged smaller areas, mainly in central Israel (e.g., in 634, 1293, 1458 and 1546). In the next stage we will focus on the damage history and intensity of each of the localities.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2013
- 8157 TECTONOPHYSICS Plate motions: past;
- 8111 TECTONOPHYSICS Continental tectonics: strike-slip and transform