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Review of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake Based on Recent Analyses of Historical Observations

  • C. S. Oliveira
Part of the Modern Approaches in Solid Earth Sciences book series (MASE, volume 2)

Abstract

The importance of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake is known worldwide not only among the scientific and technical communities but also in many other disciplines of human kind related to the effects and consequences of the earthquake. A re-visiting of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake is made based on the historical descriptions in what regards the multiple aspects of scientific and technological background in his smaller details as, for example, the predominant direction of shaking, the duration of the event, the anisotropy in propagation, the enormous area of perception with its direct effects along all the Iberian Peninsula and Morocco, the water movement in Scotland (seiches), the enormous tsunami that affected the Portuguese, Spanish and Morocco coast, being remarkable the waves in the other side of the Atlantic, in New Jersey. These examples illustrate that the 1755 earthquake was a unique seismologic event for which a great deal of information already exists but, on the other hand, still contains many unresolved problems.

We review the historical descriptions of several different physical phenomena, compiling available data and discussing models proposed recently in the literature, with the aim of contributing to a better characterization of the seismic source, the wave propagation, and also to the causes behind the observations in nature, in housing and population. The interpretations are supported, as much as possible, on physical evidences such as the structural characterization of simple objects and structures for which it was possible to partially recover the seismic input acting at the foundation level. The analysis of the tsunami, of several monumental structures, and especially the “Aqueduto das Águas Livres”, the damage inflicted to different types of buildings, etc., represent the essential basis to place a few pieces to reconstitute the large and intriguing puzzle that the 1755 earthquake still is. Though science has already given many important clues, there are yet a large number of questions to be answered which will contribute to a full comprehension of the phenomenon and to the definition of future hazards.

Keywords

Historical earthquakes 1755 Lisbon earthquake source mechanism attenuation damage inverse problems 

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. S. Oliveira
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto Superior Técnico (IST)Lisbon, Portugal and Researcher ICIST/ISTPortugal

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