Ref: SCART-2022-0045

The damaging character of shallow 20th century earthquakes in the Hainaut coal area (Belgium)

Camelbeeck, Thierry ; Van Noten, Koen ; Lecocq, Thomas ; Hendrickx, Marc

published in Solid Earth, 13 issue 3, pp. 469-495 (2022)

Abstract: The present study analyses the impact and damage of shallow seismic activity that occurred from the end of the 19th century until the late 20th century in the coal area of the Hainaut province in Belgium. This seismicity is the second-largest source of seismic hazard in north-western Europe after the Lower Rhine Embayment. During this period, five earthquakes with moment magnitudes (Mw) around 4.0 locally caused moderate damage to buildings corresponding to maximum intensity VII on the European Macroseismic Scale 1998 (EMS-98). Reviewing intensity data from the official macroseismic surveys held by the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB), press reports and contemporary scientific studies resulted in a comprehensive macroseismic intensity dataset. Using this dataset, we created macroseismic maps for 28 earthquakes, established a new Hainaut intensity attenuation model and a relationship linking magnitude, epicentral intensity and focal depth. Using these relationships, we estimated the location and magnitude of pre-1985 earthquakes that occurred prior to deployment of the modern digital Belgian seismic network. This resulted in a new updated earthquake catalogue for the Hainaut area for the 1887–1985 period, including 124 events. A comparison with other areas worldwide where currently similar shallow earthquake activity occurs suggests that intensity attenuation is strong in Hainaut. This high attenuation and our analysis of the cumulative effect of the Hainaut seismicity indicate that current hazard maps overestimate ground motions in the Hainaut area. This reveals the need to use more appropriate ground motion models in hazard issues. Another strong implication for earthquake hazard comes from the reliability of the computed focal depths that helps clarifying the hypotheses about the origin of this seismicity. Some events were very shallow and occurred near the surface up to a depth not exceeding 1 km, suggesting a close link to mining activities. Many events, including the largest shallow events in the coal area before 1970, occurred at depths greater than 2 km, which would exclude a direct relationship with mining, but still might imply a triggering causality. A similar causality can also be questioned for other events that occurred just outside of the coal area since the end of the mining works.

Keyword(s): intensity ; macroseismology ; press documents ; coal mining ; ground motion attenuation
DOI: 10.5194/se-13-469-2022
Links: link

The record appears in these collections:
Royal Observatory of Belgium > Seismology & Gravimetry
Science Articles > Peer Reviewed Articles

 Record created 2022-03-09, last modified 2022-03-09

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