Archeological excavations in the Crusader Ateret Fortress near the Jordan River exposed E-W trending walls displaced sinistrally up to 2.1 m by the Dead Sea transform fault. A water duct, probably of Crusader age, is also offset sinistrally across the fault by about 1-2 m, but newer water ducts parallel to the former one show no displacement. The maximum width of the fault zone is about 10 m. Post-Crusader structures show significantly less deformation, and together with the low seismic activity, suggest there has been negligible creep. It is therefore conceivable that in this particular fault segment, stress is occasionally relieved by strong destructive earthquakes associated with surface ruptures. Historical accounts include descriptions of post-Crusader earthquakes in the northern part of Israel in A.D. 1202, 1546, 1759, and 1837. These events caused destruction and casualties over large areas. We conclude that most of the displacement of the Ateret Fortress walls occurred during one of these strong earthquakes, probably that of 1202 A.D., and some additional offset occurred during subsequent events. The associated magnitude is estimated at 6.5-7.1. The Ateret site is extremely valuable for paleoseismic studies in general, and assessment of seismic hazard to nearby population centers in particular, as there is an abundance of well-dated man-made structures and a small number of candidate earthquakes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes