Seismicity in the block mountains between Halle and Leipzig, Central Germany: centroid moment tensors, ground motion simulation, and felt intensities of two M ≈ 3 earthquakes in 2015 and 2017

Abstract

On April 29, 2017 at 0:56 UTC (2:56 local time), an MW = 2.8 earthquake struck the metropolitan area between Leipzig and Halle, Germany, near the small town of Markranstädt. The earthquake was felt within 50 km from the epicenter and reached a local intensity of I0 = IV. Already in 2015 and only 15 km northwest of the epicenter, a MW = 3.2 earthquake struck the area with a similar large felt radius and I0 = IV. More than 1.1 million people live in the region, and the unusual occurrence of the two earthquakes led to public attention, because the tectonic activity is unclear and induced earthquakes have occurred in neighboring regions. Historical earthquakes south of Leipzig had estimated magnitudes up to MW ≈ 5 and coincide with NW-SE striking crustal basement faults. We use different seismological methods to analyze the two recent earthquakes and discuss them in the context of the known tectonic structures and historical seismicity. Novel stochastic full waveform simulation and inversion approaches are adapted for the application to weak, local earthquakes, to analyze mechanisms and ground motions and their relation to observed intensities. We find NW-SE striking normal faulting mechanisms for both earthquakes and centroid depths of 26 and 29 km. The earthquakes are located where faults with large vertical offsets of several hundred meters and Hercynian strike have developed since the Mesozoic. We use a stochastic full waveform simulation to explain the local peak ground velocities and calibrate the method to simulate intensities. Since the area is densely populated and has sensitive infrastructure, we simulate scenarios assuming that a 12-km long fault segment between the two recent earthquakes is ruptured and study the impact of rupture parameters on ground motions and expected damage.

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Change history

  • 10 August 2018

    The original version of this article unfortunately contains a mistake. Table 3 in the Appendix A is the preliminary version and is not correctly given. The corrected version of Table 3 is given below.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Grube Teutschenthal Sicherungs GmbH & Co. KG (GTS), Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbau-Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH (LMBV) and K-UTEC Salt Technologies AG for providing waveform data from Teutschenthal and Nachterstedt areas. Jens Skapinski shared felt reports collected on “Juskis Erdbebennews” with us, and Diethelm Kaiser from BGR provided some additional questionnaires. Nima Nooshiri is thanked for helping with Fig. 7a. We especially thank all helpers and staff running the excellent network of the Seismologie-Verbund in Central Germany. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers who provided detailed and constructive reviews.

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Correspondence to Torsten Dahm.

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Appendix A: Historical earthquakes in the region and tables of used velocity models

Appendix A: Historical earthquakes in the region and tables of used velocity models

Table 3 Historical earthquakes (1300–2000) with I0 > V (or MW > 4) in the region between Halle-Leipzig and Vogtland/NW-Bohemia (LE=Leydecker (2011); GR=Grünthal and Wahlström (2012); S=Schwarz et al. (2010)). I0 is the epicentral intensity, MW is the transformed moment magnitude after S
Table 4 Local (average, Leipzig University and Collm observatory) and crust 2.0 model used for centroid moment tensor inversion. We replace the first 0.5 km of the hard rock by the soft layer only for the soft rock test

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Dahm, T., Heimann, S., Funke, S. et al. Seismicity in the block mountains between Halle and Leipzig, Central Germany: centroid moment tensors, ground motion simulation, and felt intensities of two M ≈ 3 earthquakes in 2015 and 2017. J Seismol 22, 985–1003 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10950-018-9746-9

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Keywords

  • Deep crustal intraplate seismicity
  • Centroid moment tensor of M ≈ 3 earthquakes
  • Observed and simulated ground motions