Archeological versus lacustrine earthquake evidence

The geological and seismographic analysis of drilling cores from Lake Wörthersee (done by the Department of Geology at the University of Innsbruck) brought new proof of three earthquake events that took place during the Roman era in Carinthia (approximately 50 B.C. - 600 A.D). The results were published with a broad impact under the headlines “Risk for severe earthquake lies between five to six percent” at the beginning of 2023 (Kleine Zeitung, Jan 14, 2023, p. 25).

Using the natural scientific method of radiocarbon dating, these earthquakes can only be generally chronologically pinpointed. Furthermore, amplitudes V-VI (according to the European Macroseismic Intensity Scale EMS-98) as determined in the drilling core analysis lead to characterising seismic events that only caused light damage to buildings (cracks in the walls, falling off of wall plaster, etc)

The state archeological research on the Roman cities on the Magdalensberg and in Virunum is able to be more precise as to time of the events, but also can also point out contradictions regarding their intensities.

In the synopsis of antique sources both literary and as inscriptions with the archeological findings in the Noric cities, one can recognise the effects of these natural events, which can only be explained by the result of areal-affective earthquakes with structural damage to buildings. These events took place in the years A.D. 9/10, 183/184 and 235/237. These events not only caused the destruction of individual buildings, but also resulted in whole areas of the cities being newly designed, or even abandoned.

The discussion and clarification of these controversial research issues - also regarding the estimation of earthquake risks for the Alps-Adriatic region - serve as the focus of an international symposium at the State Museum on November 24, 2023.

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