Recurrence pattern of Holocene earthquakes along the Dead Sea transform revealed by varve-counting and radiocarbon dating of lacustrine sediments

Claudia Migowski, Amotz Agnon, Revital Bookman, Jörg F.W. Negendank, Mordechai Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A high-resolution Holocene seismic history of the Dead Sea Transform (DST) is established from laminated sedimentary cores recovered at the shores of the Dead Sea. Radiocarbon dating and annual laminae counting yield excellent agreement between disturbed sedimentary structures (identified as seismites) and the historical earthquake record: All recent and historical strong events of the area were identified, including the major earthquakes of A.D. 1927, 1837, 1212, 1033, 749, and 31 B.C. The total of 53 seismites recognized along the entire Holocene profile indicate varying recurrence intervals of seismic activity between a few and 1000 years, with a conspicuous minimum rate at 2100-31 B.C. and a noticeable maximum during the past six to eight centuries. Most of the epicenters of the correlated earthquakes are situated very close to the Dead Sea (within 150 km) or up to 400 km north of it along the DST. Between 1000 B.C. and A.D. 1063, and from A.D. 1600 to recent time the epicenters are all located on the northern segment of the DST, whereas prior to 1000 B.C. and between A.D. 1000 and 1600 they appear to scatter along several segments of the DST. We establish how the local intensity exerts a control on the formation of seismites. At historically estimated intensities greater than VII, all well documented earthquakes are correlated, whereas at intensities smaller than VI none are matching. The periods with enhanced earthquake rate along the DST correlate with those along the North Anatolian Fault as opposed to the intervening East Anatolian Fault. This may indicate some elastic coupling on plate-boundary scale that may also underlie escape and extrusion tectonics, typical of continental collision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-314
Number of pages14
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 May 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
F0inancial support by the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF) is gratefully acknowledged. [VC]


  • Active faulting
  • Anatolian block
  • Dead Sea Transform
  • Earthquakes
  • Holocene sediments
  • Lateral extrusion
  • Paleoseismology
  • Recurrence interval
  • Seismite
  • Varves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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