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The 6 May 1976 Friuli earthquake revisited: macroseismic intensities in Central and north-eastern Germany

G. Gr√ľnthal


The Mw 6.4 earthquake on 6 May 1976, was not only the most devastating one in its epicentral region for centuries, it was also felt in many parts of Europe from central Italy to the Baltic Sea and from France to Slovakia. In addition to its devastating consequences in northern Italy, the earthquake had a strong impact on the development of modern seismology in several countries of Europe. The fact that the Friuli quake was widely felt in Central and north-eastern Germany, even in Berlin, where many people in high-rise buildings were frightened and ran outdoors, contributed to the decision to establish seismology on a larger scale at the Potsdam Institute on the Telegrafenberg. This event also instituted the research field of engineering seismology with macroseismology. The macroseismic data collection for the Friuli event started after a long delay owing to the lack of a permit by the state authority to carry out inquiries. Nevertheless, the reaction to the inquiry was overwhelming, despite the delay. Altogether, we received positive reports from 205 localities. The intensity assignments were performed with the MSK-64 scale. The only region with a wellestablished intensity 4 was the area of Zittau in the south-easternmost edge of Saxony. The region that was shaken with intensity 3 extends to Berlin and the area NE of the city and continues further south covering Halle, Leipzig and Erfurt with the surrounding Thuringian basin. Unexpectedly, we received observation messages even from several towns at the Baltic Sea. The macroseismic data are also discussed according to contemporary cross border isoseismal maps of the 1976 Friuli earthquake. Similar macroseismic observations as those of the 1976 earthquake were made in Central and north-eastern Germany also for the 1690 Carinthia quake. The available macroseismic data points for this historical event are presented and compared with the observations of the 1976 Friuli quake.