Earthquakes in the Middle Ages


I read a recent blog post over at Medieval Minds about Catalonia earthquakes of the XIV and XV centuries. Author Ann Scott, who is a medieval historian, sites a book, Historical Seismology, that features a study of the Catalonia (NE Spain) quakes. The study, which concluded in 2006, was conducted to evaluate the potential seismic hazard and to evaluate the quakes using standardized criteria. The findings were reported at the First European Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismologythe same year in Geneva, Switzerland. In the XIV and XV centuries, only eight earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or higher occurred, with the largest at magnitude 6.5 occurring in 1428.

I wasn’t sure why the study was barely taking place in 2006, but as I thought about Scott’s post, I was reminded of the value of scientists studying the seismic history of a region. While earthquakes can’t be predicted yet, research provides fault history and field analysis that helps geologists estimate earthquake probabilities. Armed with evidence of a probability of a large quake, scientists and authorities are better able to convince citizens to prepare themselves.

May 14 2010 02:25 am | Earthquakes

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