- Open Access
The problem of seismic potential assessment: Case study of the unexpected earthquake of 7 September 1999 in Athens, Greece
Earth, Planets and Space volume 54, pages 9–18 (2002)
Lessons learned form the disastrous earthquake (M W = 5.9) that hit the metropolitan area of Athens, Greece, on 7 September 1999, are examined particularly as for the seismic potential considered before the earthquake occurrence. A general belief was created in the past decades that the seismic potential in Athens was very low. Fault plane solutions of the 1999 shock indicate that it was associated with a normal fault trending WNW-ESE and dipping to SW. Field geological observations conducted after the event in the Fili neotectonic fault, situated at 15–20 km to the north of Athens, imply that it has possibly been the seismogenic structure of the main rupture, and that it reactivated in very recent geological times. Archaeoseismological observations performed in the ancient Fili Fort, revealed repaired structural damage that was very likely caused by an earthquake occurring in palaeochristianic or Byzantine times. From a new catalogue of historical earthquakes it results that the main events of 1705, 1805 and 1889 could be tentatively located within a distance of ∼30 km from Athens although the little macroseismic information available makes their locations quite uncertain. During the instrumental period of observation, only few small shocks were recorded in the Athens region. It is obvious that should a research effort had been undertaken before the 1999 earthquake, certainly it would be concluded that at least one strong earthquake took place in historical times in the broad region affected in 1999, and that the Fili fault is active and is capable to produce strong shocks in the future. However, such a study was never conducted by the scientific community beforehand.
Ambraseys, N. N., Material for the investigation of the seismicity of Central Greece, in Historical Investigation of the Seismicity of European Earthquakes, vol. 2, edited by P. Albini and A. Moroni, pp. 1–10, 1994.
Ambraseys, N. N. and C. Finkel, Material for the investigation of the seismicity of the Eastern Mediterranean region during the period 1690–1710, in Historical Investigation of European Earthquakes, vol. 1, edited by M. Stucchi, pp. 173–194, 1993.
Ambraseys, N. N. and C. Finkel, Unpublished Ottoman archival information on the seismicity of the Balkans during the period 1500–1800, in Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Empire, Institute for Mediterranean studies, Halcyon Days in Crete III, A Symposium held in Rethymnon, 10–12 January 1997, pp. 89–107, Crete University Press, 1999.
Ambraseys, N. N. and J. A. Jackson, Seismicity and associated strain of central Greece between 1890 and 1988, Geophys. J. Int., 101, 663–708, 1990.
Ambraseys, N. N. and J. A. Jackson, Seismicity and strain in the Gulf of Corinth (Greece) since 1694, J. Earthq. Eng., 1, 433–474, 1997.
Anonymous a, Book of the earthquakes observed in Greece in the time interval 1893–1901, Insitute of Geodynamics, National Observatory of Athens, 181 pp. (Manuscript in Greek).
Anonymous b, Book of the earthquakes in Greece in the time interval 1902–1915, Institute of Geodynamics, National Observatory of Athens, 399 pp. (Manuscript in Greek).
Coburn, A. and R. Spence, Earthquake Protection, John Wiley, England, pp. 355, 1992.
Comninakis, P. E. and B. C. Papazachos, A catalogue of earthquakes in Greece and the surrounding area for the period 1901–1985, Univ. Thessaloniki Geophys. Lab. Publ., 1, 167, 1986.
Cornell, C. A., Engineering seismic risk analysis, BSSA, 58, 1583–1606, 1968.
Eginitis, D. (Publ.), Annales de l’Observatoire National d’Athènes, tome II, 346 pp., 1899.
Fedotov, S. A., Regularities in the distribution of strong earthquakes in Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands and northeastern Japan, Akad. Nauk SSSR Inst. Fiziki Zeml: Trudy, 36, 66–93, 1965.
Galanopoulos, A. G., Katalog der Erdbeben in Griechland für die zeit von 1879 bis 1892, Ann. Geol. Pays Hellen., 5, 144–229, 1953.
Galanopoulos, A. G., The Seismic Geography of Greece, Ann. Geol. Pays Hellen., 6, 83–121, 1955 (in Greek).
Galanopoulos, A. G., A catalogue of shocks with I o ≥ V I or M ≥ 5 for the years 1801–1958, Seismol. Lab. Univ. Athens, 1960.
Galanopoulos, A. G., The earthquake potential of Greece, Ann. Geol. Pays Hellen., 30, 648–724, 1981 (in Greek).
Ganse, R. A. and J. B. Nelson, Catalog of Significant Earthquakes, 2000 B.C.—1979, World Data Center A for Solid Earth Geophysics-NOAA, Report SE-27, 1979.
Iida, K., Earthquake magnitude, fault and source dimensions, J. Earth Sci., 13, 115–132,1965.
Jackson, J. A., J. Gagnepain, G. Houseman, G. C. P. King, P. Papadimitriou, C. Soufleris, and J. Virieux, Seismicity, normal faulting and the geomorphological development of the Gulf of Corinth (Greece): the Cotinth earthquakes of February and March 1981, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 57, 377–397, 1982.
Kagan, Y. Y. and D. D. Jackson, Seismic gap hypothesis: Ten years after, J. Geophys. Res., 96, 21419–21431, 1991.
Karnik, V., Seismicity of the European Area, Part II, 1801–1900, 218 pp., D. Reidel Publ. Comp. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 1971.
Kelleher, J., L. R. Sykes, and J. Oliver, Possible criteria for predicting earthquake locations and their application to major plate boundaries of the Pacific and the Caribbean, J. Geophys. Res., 78, 2547–2585, 1973.
Koustas, G., Earthquake of Corinth, Pandora, 15 August 1858, 225–229, 1858 (in Greek).
Lambros, S. P., The earthquakes in Athens before 1821, Estia, 280, 289–291, 1881 (in Greek).
McCann, W. R., S. P. Nishenko, L. R. Sykes, and J. Krause, Seismic gaps and plate tectonics: seismic potential for major boundaries, Pure and Applied Geophys., 117, 1082–1147, 1979.
McGuire, R. K., Fortran computer program for seismic risk analysis, U.S.G.S. Open-File Rep. 76–67, 1978.
McGuire, R. K., (Ed.), The practice of earthquake hazard assessment, IASPEI-ESC, 1–284, 1993.
Mettos, A., Ch. Ioakim, and Th. Rondoyanni, Les Formations neogenes lacustres de l’Attique du Nord-Beotie: stratigraphie, palynologie et tectonique, Geologie Mediterraneenne, 12–13, 167–174, 1986.
Mettos, A., Th. Rondoyanni, Ch. Ioakim, and I. Papadakis, Evolution geodynamique et reconstruction paleoenvironnementale des basins neogenes-quaternaires de la Grece centrale, Palaeontologia I Evolucio, 24–25, 393–402, 1992.
Milne, J., Catalogue of destructive earthquakes. “Report of the 18th meeting of the British Association for the advancement of science, Portsmouth, 1911”, 649–740, London, 1912.
Mogi, K., Some features of recent seismic activity in and near Japan (1), Bull. Earthq. Res. Inst., 46, 1225–1236, 1968.
Montadon, Les tremblements de terre destructeurs en Europe, pp. 195, Geneve, 1953.
Mougiaris, N. K., Seismic history of the Aegean area, Thesis, Univ. of Patras, 439 pp., 1994.
Mourikis, M. D., The earthquakes in Greece from ancient time till now, 68 pp., Sarris Publ., Athens, 1934 (in Greek).
Nishenko, S. P., Seismic potential for large and great interplate earthquakes along the Chilean and southern Peruvian margins of South America: A quantitative reappraisal, J. Geophys. Res., 90, 3589–3615, 1985.
Nishenko, S. P., Earthquakes: Hazards and predictions, in The Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics, edited by D. E. James, pp. 260–268, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1989.
Nishenko, S. P., Circum-Pacific seismic potential: 1989–1999, Pure Appl. Geophys., 135, 169–259, 1991.
Nishenko, S. P. and W. R. McCann, Seismic potential for the world’s major plate boundaries, in Earthquake Prediction: An International Review, Maurice Ewing Ser., 4, edited by D. W. Simpson and P. G. Richards, pp. 20–28, AGU, Washington, 1981.
Nishenko, S. P. and L. R. Sykes, Comment on ‘Seismic gap hypothesis: Ten years after’ by Y. Y. Kagan and D. D. Jackson, J. Geophys. Res., 98, 9909–9916, 1993.
Papadimitriou, P., G. Kaviris, N. Voulgaris, I. Kassaras, N. Delibasis, and K. Makropoulos, The September 7, 1999 Athens earthquake sequence recorded by the Cornet network: preliminary results of source parameters determination of the main shock, Ann. Geol. Pays Hellen., 38, 29–39, 2000.
Papadopoulos, G. A. and A. Arvanitides, Earthquake risk assessment in Greece, in Earthquake Hazard and Risk, edited by V. Schenk, pp. 221–229, Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, 1996.
Papadopoulos, G. A., I. Baskoutas, G. Chouliaras, G. Drakatos, I. Kalogeras, V. Karastathis, M. Kourouzidis, I. Latoussakis, D. Makaris, N. Melis, G. Panopoulou, D. Papanastassiou, I. Pappis, S. Tassos, A. Plessa, and G. Stavrakakis, Seismological aspects of the Athens earthquake of 7th September, 1999: Preliminary results. 1st Conf. “Advances on Natural Hazards Mitigation-Experiences from Europe and Japan”, Programme, Abstractes, Reports, Athens 3–4 November, 1999, Santorini 5–7 November, 1999, 73–79.
Papadopoulos, G. A., G. Drakatos, D. Papanastassiou, I. Kalogeras, and G. Stavrakakis, Preliminary results about the catastrophic earthquake of 7 September 1999 in Athens, Greece, Seismol. Res. Lett., 71, 318–329, 2000.
Papadopoulos, G. A., G. Drakatos, D. Papanastassiou, I. Kalogeras, and G. Stavrakakis, Preliminary results about the catastrophic earthquake of 7 September 1999 in Athens, Greece: ERRATUM, Seismol. Res. Lett., 72, 73, 2001.
Papazachos, B. C. and P. E. Comninakis, A catalogue of historical earthquakes in Greece and surrounding area: 479B.C.—1900A.D., Geophys. Lab. Univ. of Thessaloniki Publ., 5, 1–24, 1982.
Papazachos, B. C. and K. Papazachou, The Earthquakes of Greece, 347 pp., Ziti, Thessaloniki, 1989 (in Greek).
Papazachos, B. C. and C. B. Papazachou, The Earthquakes of Greece, 304 pp., Zitti Publ., Thessaloniki, 1997.
Papazachos, B. C., P. E. Comninakis, E. E. Papadimitriou, and E. M. Scordilis, Properties of the February–March 1981 seismic sequence in the Alkionides gulf of central Greece, Ann. Geophys., 2, 537–544, 1984.
Pavlides, S., G. A. Papadopoulos, and A. Ganas, The 7th September, 1999 unexpected earthquake of Athens: Preliminary results on the seismotectonic environment. 1st Conf. “Advances on Natural Hazards Mitigation-Experiences from Europe and Japan”, Programme, Abstractes, Reports, Athens 3–4 November, 1999, Santorini 5–7 November, 1999, 80–85.
Sampson, A., Cases of earthquakes at Mycenaean and Pre-Mycenaean Thebes, in Archaeoseismology, edited by S. Stiros and R. E. Jones, pp. 113–117, 1996.
Schenk, Vl., Achievements and probable trends in seismic hazard assessment, Tectonophys., 167, 157–169, 1989.
Schmidt, J., A study about the Aeghion earthquake of 26 (14) December 1861, Athens, 52 pp., 1867 (Greek transl. of the German text). Schmidt, J., Studien über Erdbeben, 324 pp., Carl Scholtze, Leipzig, 1875.
Schmidt, J., About earthquakes in Greece, Estia, 1, 119–122, 1876.
Schmidt, J., Studien über Erdbeben, 360 pp., Carl Scholtze, Leipzig, 1879.
Shebalin, N. V., V. Karnik, and D. Hadzievski, (Eds.), Catalogue of Earthquakes. Part II, prior to 1901. UNDP/UNESCO Survey of the Seismicity of the Balkan Region, Skopje, 1974.
Sieberg, Erdbebengeographie, pp. 1202, Verlag von Gustav Fischer, Berlin, 1932.
Slemmons, D. B., Faults and earthquake magnitude, in State-of-the-art for Assessing Earthquake Hazards in the United States, U.S. Army Eng. Waterways Exper. St. Mis. Pap. S-73-1, Rep. 6, 129 pp., 1977.
Spyropoulos, P. J., Chronicle of the earthquakes in Greece from the ancient time till now, 453 pp., 1997 (in Greek).
Taymaz, T., J. Jackson, and D. McKenzie, Active tectonics of the north and central Aegean Sea, Geophys. J. Int., 106, 433–490, 1991.
Tiedemann, H., Catalogue of Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions, Swiss Re, Zurich, 94 pp., 1991.
Tigarakis, G., The large earthquakes in Corinthia since ancient times, Deltio tou Syllogou Politikon Mihanikon Ellados, 182, 44–49, 1987 (in Greek).
Wallace, R. E., J. F. Davis, and K. C. McNally, Terms for expressing earthquake potential, prediction, and probability, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 74, 1819–1825, 1984.
Wesnousky, S. G., C. H. Scholz, K. Shimazaki, and T. Matsuda, Integration of geological and seismological data for the analysis of seismic hazard: a case study of Japan, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 74, 687–708, 1984.
Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities, Probabilities of large earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay region, California, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1053, 51 p., 1990.
Wyss, M., Estimating maximum expected magnitude of earthquakes from fault dimension, Geology, 7, 336–340, 1979.
About this article
Cite this article
Papadopoulos, G.A., Ganas, A. & Pavlides, S. The problem of seismic potential assessment: Case study of the unexpected earthquake of 7 September 1999 in Athens, Greece. Earth Planet Sp 54, 9–18 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03352417
- Strong Earthquake
- Main Shock
- Fili Fault
- Earthquake Occurrence
- Gross National Product