Seismicity, seismotectonics, and seismic hazard in the northern Rhine area
Published:January 01, 2007
Klaus-G. Hinzen, Sharon K. Reamer, 2007. "Seismicity, seismotectonics, and seismic hazard in the northern Rhine area", Continental Intraplate Earthquakes: Science, Hazard, and Policy Issues, Seth Stein, Stéphane Mazzotti
Download citation file:
The northern Rhine area covers an area of more than 40,000 km2 and is one of the most important areas of earthquake recurrence in Europe north of the Alps. The Lower Rhine Embayment, a part of the northern Rhine area that extends over parts of western Germany, eastern Belgium, and the southern Netherlands, displays basin-like subsidence and, along with the Roer valley graben, has been the source of most of the historical and recent earthquake activity, particularly along the western border faults. Other important earthquake-prone areas include the Stavelot-Venn Massif and the Neuwied Basin, the latter of which is an area of periodically intensive micro-seismicity. Seismic instrumentation in the area has accumulated steadily since the early 1950s and presently consists of ∼50 stations. Although the strongest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the region occurred in 1992 near Roermond, with a local magnitude of 6.0, studies of historical earthquakes, such as Vervier (1692) and Düren (1756), estimate macroseismic magnitudes of 6.8 and 6.4, respectively. Paleoseismic studies indicate that even stronger, surface-rupturing earthquakes have occurred during the Holocene. The recent ML 4.9 earthquake in Alsdorf in 2002 caused some structural damage and was preceded by several small earthquakes and was followed by several aftershocks. Seismic hazard evaluation is hampered by the sparse earthquake record. A hybridized instrumental and historical earthquake catalog compiled from events over the past 300 yr combined with seismotectonic aspects indicates a maximum magnitude of 7.0. A site-intensity map based on macroseismic intensities from the hybridized catalog identifies concentrations of recent activities in the western part of the Lower Rhine Embayment, east of the city of Aachen.