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To address the original comment, Germany doesn't appear on Wikipedia's List of deadly earthquakes since 1900.

Portugal had a magnitude 7.8 in 1969 which killed 13 people (both the earliest and strongest on the list for Portugal, which suggests a gap in the data).

Spain has one in magnitude 5.3 in 1997 which killed one person.

The strongest on the list for France was a magnitude 4.2 which killed one person in 2001. The weakest and earliest is a 3.5 in 1983, also killing one.

Switzerland is not on the list, and neither is Austria.

Italy has 31 earthquakes on the list. The earliest is a magnitude 6.8 in 1905, killing about 1200 people. The weakest is a 4.2 in 1987, killing 2. The strongest is a 7.2 in 1908, killing 80 thousand.

Greece has 39. The earliest and strongest is a magnitude 8.2 in 1903, killing 2. The weakest is a 4.6 in 1978, killing 1. The deadliest is a 7.2 in 1953, killing 600.

Japan has 74 earthquakes on the list. The earliest is a 7.0 in 1900. The strongest is an 8.4 in 1933, killing 3,000. The deadliest is the 1923 Kanto Earthquake, magnitude 7.9 killing 140 thousand.

The US (excluding "minor outlying islands") has 29. The earliest, strongest and deadliest is the 1906 SF earthquake, 7.8 killing 1200 people.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 05:29:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The earthquake region affecting Germany is the intra-plate rift Rheingraben = Rhine valley rift, especially its section near Cologne (Kölner Bucht).

The most powerful recent quakes were

  • in 1756 at Düren (6.2, two dead)
  • in 1951 at Euskirchen (5.7-5.8, no dead)
  • in 1978 at Onstmettingen (in Baden-Württenberg, 5.7)
  • in 1992 at Roermond/Netherlands (near both Belgium and Germany, 5.9-6.1, no causalties)

The last two deadly quakes were in 1878. Though no 7.0, 6.4 is thought possible near Cologne.

However, I recall reading an article by some geologists critical of the ruling assumption that the central part of the rift zone shifts in a 'lubricated' way -- that assumption is unproven, and that would imply the possibility of strong earthquakes with a low frequency. I.e., what the USA had at New Madrid in 1812 (incidentally the strongest for the contiguous states in recorded history), and China at Tangshan in 1976. Such low-frequency events are definitely missing from risk calculations, especially for high-rises, which haven't been around for long.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:27:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
earthquakes. No major earthquakes have occurred since 1908 in Italy, none in Spain, Switzerland or Austria. I didn't know about the 1969 one in Portugal, although 11 of those deaths apparently happened in Morocco. Notably, Portugal began designing earthquake resistent buildings after 1755.

We know that large magnitude events have occurred prior to the 20th century. Has modern architecture (eg. flats and office blocks) in these countries withstood a direct hit of major earthquakes? No - because they're untested. There were no major events in this time period. And Messina was bad enough.

Developments and architecture work on hindsight, retrospection and, worse, amnesia - not foresight. I've used the housing planning in England's river stormbeds during last year's floodings as example of that. I don't believe it's really that different for earthquakes.

by Nomad on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:58:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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