Abstract

The city of İznik (ancient Nicaea), located on the middle strand of the North Anatolian fault zone (MNAF), presents outstanding archeological monuments preserved from the Roman and Ottoman periods (first to fifteenth centuries A.D.), bearing deformations that can be linked to past seismic shaking. To constrain the date and intensity of these historical earthquakes, a systematic survey of earthquake archeological effects (EAEs) is carried out on the city’s damaged buildings. Each of the 235 EAEs found is given a quality ranking, and the corresponding damage is classified according to the European Macroseismic Scale 1998 (EMS‐98). We show that the walls oriented north–south were preferentially damaged, and that most deformations are perpendicular to the walls’ axes. The date of postseismic repairs is constrained with available archeological data and new C14 dating of mortar charcoals. Three damage episodes are evidenced: (1) between the sixth and late eighth centuries, (2) between the nineth and late eleventh centuries A.D., and (3) after the late fourteenth century A.D. The repartition of damage as a function of building vulnerability points toward a global intensity VIII on the EMS‐98. The 3D modeling of a deformed Roman obelisk shows that only earthquakes rupturing the MNAF can account for this deformation. Their magnitude can be bracketed between Mw 6 and 7. Our archeoseismological study complements the historical seismicity catalog and confirms paleoseismological data, suggesting several destructive earthquakes along the MNAF, since the first century A.D. We suggest the fault might still have accumulated enough stress to generate an Mw 7+ rupture.

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