Journal of Seismology

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 351–362 | Cite as

An uncertainty parameter of historical earthquakes – the record threshold

  • Rolf Gutdeutsch
  • Christa Hammerl


In this study we use the term record threshold of a historical earthquake for the seismic intensity (EMS92) in an area where a given percentage P of the serial sources of places have recorded the event as been noticed there. The record threshold is understood as a limiting measure, below which warranted statements about the intensity cannot be given. P defines the acceptable uncertainty and can be chosen according to the demands of the special task, for instance, 10%. It is shown that the record threshold of historical earthquakes is not the same as the human perceptibility threshold of earthquakes of the 20th Century. The historical sources have to be selected using criteria such as completeness and homogenity of data. This demand is approximately met by inquiries for sources covering an area greater than the expected felt area of the historical earthquake.The Friuli event of 25 January 1348 is presented as an example. It is compared with the well known Friuli event of 6 May 1976 in order to calibrate its intensity. The record threshold of the 1348 event was probably IV or less than IV EMS92 for P = 10%. The method, properly modified, can be applied to different cultural epochs and areas. This result throws a light on the possible error in determining the felt area of historical events.

Carinthia Friuli historical earthquakes perceptibility threshold record threshold seismicity seismic scales 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf Gutdeutsch
    • 1
  • Christa Hammerl
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Meteorology and GeophysicsUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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