Earthquake damage history in Israel and its close surrounding - evaluation of spatial and temporal patterns

Motti Zohar, Amos Salamon, Rehav Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Israel was hit by destructive earthquakes many times in the course of history. To properly understand the hazard and support effective preparedness towards future earthquakes, we examined the spatial and temporal distribution of the resulted damage. We described in detail our systematic approach to searching the available literature, collecting the data and screening the authenticity of that information. We used GIS (Geographic Information System) to map and evaluate the distribution of the damage and to search for recurring patterns. Overall, it is found that 186 localities were hit, 54 of them at least twice. We also found that Israel was affected by 4, 17, 8 and 2 damaging earthquakes that originated, respectively, from the southern, central, central-northern and northern parts of the Dead Sea Transform (DST). The temporal appearance of the northern earthquakes is clustered; the central earthquakes are more regular in time, whereas no damage from the north-central and the central quakes, with the exception of the year 363 earthquake, seems to have occurred south of the Dead Sea region. Analyzing the distribution of the damage, we realized that the number of the damage reports reflects only half of the incidents that actually happened, attesting to incompleteness of the historical catalogue. Jerusalem is the most reported city with 14 entries, followed by Akko (Acre), Tiberias, Nablus and Tyre with 8, 7, 7 and 6 reports, respectively. In general, localities in the Galilee and north of it suffered more severely than localities in central Israel with the exception of Nablus and the localities along the coastal plain of Israel, most probably due to local site effects. For the sake of hazard management, these observations should be considered for future planning and risk mitigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 31 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Damage patterns
  • Dead Sea Transform
  • Historical earthquakes
  • Israel
  • Severity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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