How to deal with sparse macroseismic data: Reflections on earthquake records and recollections in the Eastern Baltic Shield

Päivi Mäntyniemi, Ruben E. Tatevossian, Tatiana N. Tatevossian


This study discusses the scope of historical earthquake analysis in low-seismicity regions. Examples of non-damaging earthquake reports are given from the Eastern Baltic (Fennoscandian) Shield in north-eastern Europe from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The information available for past earthquakes in the region is typically sparse and cannot be increased through a careful search of the archives. This study applies recommended rigorous methodologies of historical seismology developed using ample data to these sparse reports from the Eastern Baltic Shield. Attention is paid to the context of the reporting, the identity and role of the authors, the circumstances of the reporting, and the opportunity to verify the available information by collating the sources. We evaluate the reliability of oral earthquake recollections and develop criteria for cases when a historical earthquake is attested to by a single source. We propose parametric earthquake scenarios as a way to deal with sparse macroseismic reports and as an improvement to existing databases.


historical earthquakes, historical seismology, macroseismic sources, Baltic (Fennoscandian) Shield

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X