Speleoseismology and Palaeoseismicity of Benis Cave (Murcia, SE Spain): coseismic effects of the 1999 Mula earthquake (mb 4.8)
R. Pérez-López, M. A. Rodríguez-Pascua, J. L. Giner-Robles, J. J. Martínez-Díaz, A. Marcos-Nuez, P. G. Silva, M. Bejar, J. P. Calvo, 2009. "Speleoseismology and Palaeoseismicity of Benis Cave (Murcia, SE Spain): coseismic effects of the 1999 Mula earthquake (mb 4.8)", Palaeoseismology: Historical and Prehistorical Records of Earthquake Ground Effects for Seismic Hazard Assessment, K. Reicherter, A. M. Michetti, P. G. Silva
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This work describes the coseismic ceiling block collapse within Benis Cave (−213 m; Murcia, SE Spain), associated with the 1999 Mula earthquake (mb=4.8, MSK VII). The collapse occurred at −156 m into the Earthquake Hall, and as a consequence one small gallery became blind. We studied the geology, topography and active tectonic structures relevant to the cave. In addition, we carried out a seismotectonic analysis of the focal mechanism solutions, and also a fault population analysis on slickensides measured in fault planes in the cave. The stress and strain regime is interpreted as being congruent with the palaeoseismic evidence, and agrees with the fault kinematics established for cave galleries developed within fault planes and growth anomalies of coral flowstone. Our analysis suggests that one active segment (NNE–SSW) determined the morphology and topography of the Benis Cave, where strong to moderate palaeoearthquakes (6≤M≤7) took place. As a consequence of this intense seismic activity a small gallery collapsed. A new palaeoseismic structure, or seismothem, has been recognized, namely the effect of palaeoearthquakes affecting the pattern of development of the spatial coral flowstone distribution located at the bottom of the cave.
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Palaeoseismology: Historical and Prehistorical Records of Earthquake Ground Effects for Seismic Hazard Assessment
Given the tremendous toll in human lives and attendant economic losses, it is appropriate that scientists are working hard to understand better earthquakes, with the aim of forecasting and, ultimately, predicting them.
In the last decades increasing attention has been paid to the coseismic effects on the natural environment, creating a solid base of empirical data for the estimation of source parameters of strong earthquakes based on geological observations. The recently introduced INQUA scale (Environmental Seismic Intensity–ESI 2007 Scale) of macroseismic intensity clearly shows how the systematic study of earthquake surface faulting, coseismic liquefaction, tsunami deposits and other primary and secondary ground effects can be integrated with “traditional” seismological and tectonic information to provide a better understanding of the seismicity level of an area and the associated hazards. At the moment this is the only scientific means of equating the seismic records to the seismic cycle time-spans extending the seismic catalogues even to tens of thousands of years, improving future seismic hazard analyses.
This Special Publication covers some of the latest multidisciplinary work undertaken to achieve that aim. Eighteen papers from research groups from all continents address a wide range of topics related both to palaeoseismological studies and assessment of macroseismic intensity based only on the natural phenomena associated with an earthquake.