Abstract

The sources of the May 1202 and November 1759, M 7.5 Near East earthquakes remain controversial, because their macroseismal areas coincide, straddling subparallel active faults in the Lebanese restraining bend. Paleoseismic trenching in the Yammoûneh basin yields unambiguous evidence both for slip on the Yammoû neh fault in the twelfth–thirteenth centuries and for the lack of a posterior event. This conclusion is supported by comparing the freshest visible fault scarps, which imply more recent slip on the Râchaïya-Serghaya system than on the Yammoûneh fault. Our results suggest that the recurrence of an A.D. 1202–type earthquake might be due this century, as part of a sequence similar to that of A.D. 1033–1202, possibly heralded by the occurrence of the 1995 Mw 7.3 Aqaba earthquake. The seismic behavior of the Levant fault might thus be characterized by millennial periods of quiescence, separated by clusters of large earthquakes.

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