Mid-8th Century CE Seismic Sequences Along the Dead Sea Transform

Main Article Content

Jefferson Williams
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2737-2635

Abstract

A comprehensive examination of textual, archaeoseismic, paleoseismic, tsunamogenic, and paleo-landslide evidence was used


A comprehensive examination of textual, archaeoseismic, paleoseismic, tsunamogenic, and paleo-landslide evidence was used to characterize and construct a timeline for a series of earthquakeswhich struck the vicinity of the Dead Sea Transform in the middle of the 8th century CE. Particular attention was paid to nearly coincidental dates reported in Byzantine, Coptic and Judaic sources along with the time of day reported in three different textual accounts: Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre, an apparently local and contemporaneous source, along with Severus Ibn al-Muqaffa’ and Mujir al‑Din both of whom sourced earlier accounts which were written in the first person and purport to reproduce eye-witness testimony. The timeline, supported by archaeoseismic evidence in Bet She’an and Pella, suggests that the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes likely struck within 17 hours of each other, the first one at night and the next one the following morning, between the Julian calendar dates of 16 and 19 January in 749 CE rather than being separated by 3 years. Insight from historical scholarship was used in conjunction with other observations to propose reasons why the disparate earthquake accounts present seemingly incompatible reports of earthquake timing. While the conclusions of this article provide a hypothetical rather than a definitive solution to the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes conundrum, it does appear that some sort of seismic unzipping1 occurred within a short amount of time and a number of destructive earthquakes, perhaps as many as six, impacted the Dead Sea Transform in the middle of the 8th century CE leading to widespread devastation from South to North and points in between.

Article Details

How to Cite
Williams, J. (2024) “Mid-8th Century CE Seismic Sequences Along the Dead Sea Transform”, Annals of Geophysics, 67(1), p. SE101. doi: 10.4401/ag-8836.
Section
Seismology
Author Biography

Jefferson Williams, Rio Hondo College, Stories from the Earth

Geologist/Geophysicist/Engineer/Filmmaker

BA Geology, BS Mechanical Engineering, MS Electrical Engineering, MS Civil Engineering