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An earthquake catalogue for the last millenium

A new earthquake catalogue has been published by the GFZ Potsdam (German Research Centre for Geosciences). The Database covers the European-Mediterranean area and reaches back to AD1000. This is good news and an important step on our long way to collect all earthquake information available in one place. I say it’s a first step only, because we know much more than the catalogue incorporates: Besides ~100 years of instrumental records we have historical data covering hundreds of years in many regions, but reaching back to some thousands of years in regions like Greece and Israel. Then, there’s archaeoseismological data of course and paleoseismology, which can resolve events that happened thousands of years ago. To incorporate all this data in one database would be great, but given the great amount of work still to be done, I highly appreciate the progress made by GFZ’s new database. However, it includes a list of strong events between AD 300 and AD 999 and also a list of fake events. The actual catalogue is named EMEC (European-Mediterranean Earthquake Catalogue) and basically an extension of the CENEC catalogue from 2009. The data was published in this recent paper:

Grünthal, G. and Wahlström, R. 2012. The European-Mediterranean Earthquake Catalogue (EMEC) for the last millennium. J Seismol, 16, 535-570, DOI:10.1007/s10950-012-9302-y.

To access the data visit the main catalogue website, where you can choose to create either a list or a map of earthquakes. To create a map, things are not as easy as you might think. You need to select your map area, which can not be done by mouse. Instead you need to enter values for lat/long, time window, min. magnitude and so on. Also, you can specify page properties, overview map properties, legend, scale and many other things. Then, you don’t see the map, but you first have to provide name, affiliation and e-mail address. Then, you receive a mail, which surprisingly does not include the map but a download link. You download the file and it’s not your map, but a zipped archive with a strange name like a461842643. This includes the data and, finally, a map as a *.ps file. Now it’s only to use Acrobat Distiller or another software to convert it into a PDF which can easily be read by everyone…

My first attempt to creat a nice map of the Strait of Gibraltar area didn’t really satisfy me:

EMEC-created map of the seismicity of the Strait of Gibraltar area from AD 1000 to 2006.

I will keep on trying…

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Christoph Grützner

Christoph Grützner

works at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge. He likes Central Asia and the Mediterranean and is looking for ancient earthquakes.

See all posts Christoph Grützner

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