Focus Areas Detail

Paleoseismology and Active Tectonics

(Leader: Pablo G. Silva, )
(Co-leaders: Luca Guerrieri,; Klaus Reicherter, )

1. The International Focus Group, History and Scope

The Paleoseismology International Focus Area is deeply rooted in the history of INQUA, coming from the past scientific networking within the formerINQUA Neotectonics Commission, ceased in the year 2003. Sice 1995 Paleoseismology was one of the more active and productive Working Groups under the umbrella of the Neotectonic Commission. After the termination of the Neotectonics Commission, paleoseismology research and scientific networking within INQUA developed as a consistent International Focus Area. During the two previous inter-congress periods (2003-2007 and 2007-2011) the Focus Area, generated the Environmental Seismic Intensity Scale (ESI-2007) and the on-line catalogue of Earthquake Environmental Effects - EEE by means of successive INQUA-Projects. As revealed by the application of the ESI 2007 to several case studies worldwide, intensity evaluations based on the characteristics and size of earthquake environmental effects often provide a more reliable image of the earthquake in the epicentral area of strong to large seismic events (intensity ranging from IX to XII in the 12 degree scales). EEE allows a more accurate intensity evaluation for the highest degrees, when other scales are afflicted by saturation. Thus the ESI 2007 scale, that must be always integrated with the "classic" macroseismic scales (such as MM, MSK, EMS, MCS, and Japanese scale), proved to be an invaluable tool for the assessment of seismic hazards.

The main scope of Focus Area on Paleoseismology and Active Tectonics is the understanding of past earthquakes and future seismic risks using Quaternary geology. The activity of the FG is focused on the study of coseismic environmental effects and their integral expression in the Quaternary record. Recent progresses in the field of paleoseismology have clearly shown that earthquake effects on natural environment are more strictly related to the earthquake magnitude (e.g. Wells & Coppersmith, 1994) than effects on humans and manmade structures. During the last intercongress period (2007-2011) the focus area also incorporated an archaeoseismic view to the study of historic and ancient earthquakes by means the initiative of organize joint meetings with the IGCP-567 Project on Earthquake Archaeology. The first workshop on Earthquake Paleoseismology and Archaeoseismology (P.G. Silva and K. Reicherter) was held in the ancient roman city of Baelo Claudia (2009: Cádiz, Spain) and the second one (I. Papanikolaou and K. Reicherter) took recently place in Greece (2011: Corinth). These two meeting promoted lively scientific debate, encouraging the participation of new young Earth Science specialists and attracting experts from other knowledge areas such as Engineering and Seismology to the world of the paleoseismology, gathering and increasing new tools for the analysis of paleoearthquakes.

2. Tasks, Objectives and Activities

The importance of the EEE's in seismic hazard assessment had been clearly illustrated by the recent strong damaging events such as 2010 Chile (Mw 9.1) and 2011 Japan (Mw 9.0), but also for moderate events like the 2009 L'Aquila (Mw 6.3), 2010 Haiti (Mw 7.0), 2011 Christchurch (Mw 6.2) and 2011 Lorca (Mw 5.1). On all these events EEE's were the source of most of the destruction, tsunamis, liquefaction, surface faulting, and landslides were the most damaging environmental coseismic processes. The March 11, 2011, Tohoku earthquake clearly illustrated that the final damage of the event was powerfully linked to an outsized tsunami, unprecedented in the instrumental and conventional historical seismic records. However, similar tsunamis were recorded in the recent geological record, but available paleotsunami data were not yet implemented in the seismic hazard analyses for NE Japan. In addition, the tsunami was responsible for the nuclear incident at the Fukushima NPP illustrating the relevance of earthquake environmental studies and cataloguing for reliable seismic hazard assessments of similar critical engineering facilities, which migth trigger quasi-global scale secondary hazards. This earthquake has dramatically shown that a traditional approach may be not adequate in terms of time window and resolution for a proper seismic hazard assessment. Therefore it needs to be integrated with a detailed characterization of coseismic effects produced on natural environment by "innovative" techniques, like paleoseismic investigations.

As mentioned above, the main aim of the focus group is improving the geological -knowledge on paleo and ancient earthquakes in order to generate reliable relationship between EEE effects, ESI intensities and earthquake source parameters. Within this frame the different tasks and objectives of the Focus Area will be networked in working-groups:

     2.1 Tasks and Objectives

        1. EEE Catalogue: This task will be a follow-up of the last INQUA Project developed during the last intercongress period (2007-2011). The compilation of the EEE Catalogue is one of the main tasks of the Focus Area needing the continuous updating and feedback from researchers involved in paleoseismic research. The incorporation of new EEE effects from different historical, ancient and palaeoearthquakes will help to refine the ESI-2007 Scale data and to promote a global view of past earthquakes. On the other hand, the incorporation of new EEE data from new and modern earthquakes is an essential task within the catalogue in order to check, validate and refine the ESI-2007 Scale. The EEE Catalogue is hosted at Validated records are available at this page, and can be consulted with a web gis interface. All participants are kindly requested to contribute to the implementation of the EEE Catalogue. The EEE Catalogue will constitute the updated data base which will support the development of following and innovative task. Among them, in the next intercongress period a strong collaboration between the Focus Area and the IAEA ISSC (International Seismic Safety Center) will be focused on the EEE Catalogue. The aim will be to develop a new database restructured in agreement with IAEA ISSC needs and linked to the IAEA/ISSC Database for use and dissemination to the worldwide nuclear engineering community. This activity will be coordinated by Luca Guerrieri and Valerio Comerci (, ISPRA, Italy).

        2. EEE Empirical Relationships with earthquake and fault parameters: This task will be supported by the data base implemented in the EEE Catalogue and will constitute one of the main objectives of the Focus Area during this intercongress period via the development of a new INQUA project. The final purpose will be the implementation of empirical relationships between the ESI-2007 Intensity and other source parameters. To this end, a systematic revision, mapping and classification of worldwide contemporary and paleoseismic EEE data is necessary, continuing with the updating and cataloguing of historic and instrumental earthquakes. Well known historic and recent instrumental earthquakes will provide necessary data to the development of reliable empirical relationships, but also to the analysis of the lower bound of the ESI-2007 Scale for intensities VI-VII, where environmental coseismic effects are normally related to near-field off-fault effects, commonly hard to evaluate from the geological record and poorly diagnostic for the assessment of ESI Intensity values. This activity will be coordinated by Salvatore Barba (Italy) and Ruben Tatevosian (Russia).

        3. On-Fault paleoearthquake records, fault geomorphology and dating. This task will be supported by some of the data base implemented in the EEE Catalogue, but also by new research on on-fault trenching and geomorphological analyses. Fault-trenching constitutes one of the world-wide used tools for paleoseismological research and their incorporation to the EEE catalogue of Earthquake primary effects will help to the updating of the knowledge on fault rupture length / fault offset relationships. On the other hand, the main objective is the progressive incorporation to this data-base those data-sets coming from bedrock fault scarps, which normally offer different and less consistent information on fault parameters and history. The increasing data from cosmogenic analyses of bedrock fault scarps developed in limestones from the Mediterranean Region suppose a new emergent tool in the field of paleoseismology in order to understand and refine the knowledge of this particular type of active faults. This activity will be coordinated by Gerald Roberts (UK) and Ioannis Papanikolaou (Greece).

        4. EAE records and Archaeseismology. As already mentioned the analysis of Earthquake Archaeological Effects (EAE) and archaeoseismic research have been activities recently incorporated in the international Focus Area by means the promotion and organization of joint meetings with the IGCP-567 Earthquake Archaeology. Since the IGCP activities will terminate on December 2012, our international Focus Area will continue the research and networking of archaeoseismology. The Spanish Working Group developed an EAE Classification following the guidelines established for EEE in the ESI-2007 Scale. The main purpose of this activity is to explore the capacities of this EAE classification to be improved and converted in a individual but complementary tool for the investigation of ancient or poorly-known historic earthquakes. Since it will be really difficult to follow an approach similar to the ESI-2007 Scale, the research on EAE will be focused in the evaluation of directivity effects in order to probe seismic damage (occurrence of an earthquake) and more probable ground shacking orientation in order to identify probable causative seismic sources. The application of EAE analysis to different ancient sites, will be a tool to understand seismic origin of damage, but the application of this type of analysis to recent earthquakes can be used to check, validate and refine EAE analyses, as recently demonstrated in the 2011 Lorca (Mw 5.1) and Christchurch (Mw 6.3) Earthquakes. This activity also contemplate the use of new investigation imaging techniques (Georadar, Geoelectrical surveys, Scan-Lidar) in order to generate digital models for the identification and quantification of deformation, as well as the further development of theoretical models. This activity will be coordinated by Klaus Reicherter (RWTH Aachen, Germany) and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Pascua (IGME, Spain)

     2.2. Activities

        1. Planned Workshops and Meetings
These activities are essential for networking of paleoseismological research as demonstrated by the set of workshops and special sessions developed during the two last inter-congress periods. In particular INQUA-IGCP 567 joint meetings developed in 2009 and 2011 demonstrated that scientific sessions, field-trips and field-courses combine in the best way to develop networking and to extend the interest of paleoseismology and archaeoseismology to young researchers and researchers from different fields of the Earth Sciences. During the present intercongress period this initiative will be pushed with the organization of new similar workshops in the following sites and dates:

        - 3rd International Workshop:
Morelia (Mexico). November, 2012. Dealing with the centenary of the 1912 Acambay Earthquake, the workshop will be held at the Mexican city of Morelia with the facilities of the Michoacan University. The Workshop will be organized by Victor Hugo Garduño-Monroy (Michoacan University, Mexico); Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Pascua (IGME, Spain); Pablo G. Silva (Salamanca University, Spain). Preliminary information can be consulted in here.

        - 4th International Workshop: Aachen (Germany). During the year 2013, presumably September-October, the workshop will be held in the installations of the RWTH Aachen University. The workshop will be initially organized by Klaus Reicherter, Christoph Grützner and Tomás Fernández Steeger (RWTH Aachen), but there is the possibility to joint activities with the Leuwen Catholic University (Belguim) with the participation of Manuel Sintubin, leader of the IGCP567.

        - 5th International Workshop: To be decided of future proposals from South America or Asia. The workshop will took place during the year 2014.

        - 5th International Workshop: Fuccino (Italy). During the year 2015, presumably September-October, the workshop will be organized in the Italian locality of Fuccino, with the collaboration of ISPRA and the L'Insurbia University. The workshop will be organized by Luca Guerrieri, Ana Maria Blumetti (ISPRA) and Alessandro Michetti (L'Insurbia University).

        - Scientific Session INQUA TERPRO: Nagoya (Japan) within the framework of the next INQUA International Congress, August 2011. In this session will be presented the results of the forthcoming INQUA projects and workshops. The session will be networked by the leaders of the Focus Area.

        - Joined meetings with IAEA-ISSC: Some of the abovementioned meetings will be joined with IAEA - ISSC which is expected provide a financial support for the logistical organization. The aim of these joined meetings will be to develop a common framework on the use of EEE data in order to standardize the procedure for EEE data collection. At least one joined meeting each year is planned. The schedule of these joined meetings will be defined later.

        2. Field data collection of environmental effects at time of earthquake occurrence (in future)
Another potential joined activity between the Focus Area and the IAEA ISSC could be focused on the field EEE data collection in the period following a strong earthquake occurring in the next future (in case). In fact, this is a unique opportunity to survey the affected area and collect a complete and reliable EEE dataset in a standard way. In the frame of this collaboration, joint teams of INQUA-ISSC scientists will be formed. A list of experts should be defined by the Focus Area in advance for this activity. IAEA is expected to cover mission expenses.

        3. Other activities and products
Aside, the set of annual planned activities, the leaders of the Focus Area also will promote and support initiatives from the members of the area to be present within the framework of different international events, with the organization of Special Sessions in EGU and AGU annual meetings, International Geological Congress and other INQUA joint initiatives when possible. Together with the organizer, the leaders of the Focus Area will promote, support and help in the production of Special Volumes or Special Issues in international journals focused to the study of the Quaternary, Paleoseismology, Active Tectonics and Geomorphology.

        4. Focus Area web page
The official web page of the Focus Area will be hosted in the web page of the Spanish Society for Quaternary Research (AEQUA) Appropriate links to the INQUA TERPRO, INQUA Scale project and EEE Catalogue will be implemented in the page.

        5. Networking of young scientists
Information on scientific research, INQUA activities, news, reports, etc. will be complementary networked within the framework of the web page and associated facebook facility presently hosted in the RWTH Aachen University and managed by Christoph Grützner. These additional on-line facilities resulted in a rapid and updated communication among the young scientist involved in paleoseismological research.

3. Focus Area Structure
The organization of the Focus Area is composed of a President a two vice-president coordinating the activities and future forthcoming projects as proposed in the business meeting of the Focus Area held during the last INQUA congress at Bern. The secretariat will be hosted in the Geological Survey of Spain (IGME) managed by Raúl Pérez López. The names and roles of the leadership of the International Focus Area were proposed and ratified during the last business meeting held at Corinth (Greece) in September 2011.

     3.1. Leaders

Dr. Pablo G. Silva (President)
Departamento de Geología, Universidad de Salamanca.
Escuela Politcnica Superior de Avila
C/Hornos Caleros, 50. 05003-Avila, SPAIN
direct: +34-920353500 - fax: +34-920353501

Dr. Luca Guerrieri (Vice President)
Geological Survey of Italy
ISPRA, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione dell'Ambiente e per i Servizi Tecnici
Via Curtatone, 3, 00185. Roma, ITALY
direct: +39-0650074781; fax: +39-064465159

Dr. Klaus Reicherter (Vice President)
RWTH Aachen University
Inst. für Neotektonik und Georisiken
Lochnerstr. 4-20, 52056 Aachen, GERMANY
direct: +49-(0)241-8095722 ; fax: +49-(0)241-8092358

     3.2. Secretary

Dr. Raúl Pérez López (Scientific Secretary)
Geological Survey of Spain
Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME)
Área de Investigación en Riesgos Geológicos.
Riosa Rosas 23, 28003 Madrid, SPAIN

Dr. Jorge Luis Giner Robles (Webmaster)
Departamento de Geología
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)
Campus de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, SPAIN
E-mail: -

Dr. Christoph Grüztner (Young scientist's networking)
RWTH Aachen University
Inst. für Neotektonik und Georisiken
Lochnerstr. 4-20, 52056 Aachen, GERMANY
E-mail: -

     3.3. Working Groups (proposal)

For a better organization of the different proposed task it is planned to organize several working groups coordinated by a reduced number of specialist in order to develop consistent guide-lines, scientific relay and criticism for buil-up well-scoped project proposals, organization of special sessions and manage the edition of future special volumes.

        3.3.1. Working Group on Earthquake Environmental Effects and EEE Catalogue
Guerrieri, Luca (Italy; Leader); Audermard, Franck (Venezuela); Chaztipetros, Georgios (Greece); Comerci, Valerio (Italy); Porfido, Sabina (Italy), Esposito, Eliana (Italy)

        3.3.2. Working Group on Fault Paleoseismology
Roberts, Gerald (UK; Leader,; Garduño-Monroy, Victor Hugo (Mexico); McCalpin, Jim (USA,; Papanikolaou, Ioannis (Greece,

        3.3.3. Working Group on Geological and Geomorphological record of tsunami events
Vött, Andreas (Germany), Lario, Javier (Spain), Goodman, Beverly (Israel).

        3.3.4. Working Group on Archaeoseismology
Klaus Reicherter (Germany; Leader,; Hinzen, Klaus (Germany,; Jim, Kim (Korea); Rodriguez Pascua, Miguel Angel (Spain,; Shmullik Marko (Israel, ); Sintubin, Manuel (Belgium,

        3.3.5. Working Group on Paleoseismology and Engineering
Salvatore Barba (italy; Leader,; Azuma, Takashi (Japan,; Baize, Stéphane (France,; Schwartz, David (USA); Pantosti, Daniela (Italy); Tatevossian, Ruben (Russia,

     3.4. Full list of corresponding members

After the different international workshops developed by the Focus Area a well established network of researchers for different countries and specialities is growing. The attached list comprise most of the people attending such kind of meetings, interested in follow the activities of the focus area and many of them participating in the updating of the EEE Catalogue.

Family name/ Name country e-mailInstitution
Abdel Aziz, Mohamed
Amit, Rifka ISR
Altunel, Erhan TUR
Audemard, Franck VEN FUNDIVIS - Venezuela (PAS, GEOQ, GEM)
Azañon Jose M.SPA University of Granada (PAS, EGE, GEM)
Azuma, Takashi JAP
Baize Stéphane FRA Institut de Radioprotection et Sûreté Nucléaire (PAS, EGE)
Barba Salvatore ITA Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (GEOFIS)
Bardají Teresa SPA Universidad de Alcalá. Depto. Geología (GEM, GEOQ)
Besana-Ostman, Glenda FIL
Blumetti Anna-Maria ITA ISPRA (GEM, GEOQ)
Brunetto, Ernesto ARG CICyTTP-CONICET, Entre Ríos
Campos Corina VEN ISTERRE - Université de Grenoble in Chambéry, France (PAS, GEM)
Carmo Rita
POR "Centro de Vulcanologia e Avaliação de Riscos Geologicos da Universidade dos Açores" (PAS, GEM)
Clague, John CAN
Clark, Dan AUS
Chatzipetros Alexandros GRE Aristotle University
Craig dePolo, USA
Esposito, Eliana ITA
Fernandez-Steeger Tomás M. GER RWTH Aachen University (EQE, AQS)
Fokaefs, Anna GRE
Foumelis Michael GRE Harokopio University of Athens
Franco, Luis Enrique COL
Gielisch Hartwig GER DMT GmbH & Co. KG (AQS, GEM)
Giner-Robles, Jorge L. SPA Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (AQS, PAS)
Godoy, Antonio
Goedhart, Marc L.
Grützner Christoph GER Neotektonik & Georisiken, RWTH Aachen
Guerrieri Luca ITA ISPRA, Roma (EGE, PAS)
Guzman-Gutierrez,Oswaldo-J. VEN ISTERRE - Université de Grenoble in Chambéry, France (PAS, GEM
Gürpinar, Aybars
Hermanns, Reginald Reginald.Hermanns@NGU.NO
Hinzen Klaus-G. GER Universität zu Köln (AQS, EGE)
Hipólito Ana POR "Centro de Vulcanologia e Avaliação de Riscos Geologicos da Universidade dos Açores" (PAS, GEM)
Hough, Sue USA
Huerta Pedro SPA University of Salamanca (GEOQ, GEM)
Iriondo, Martin ARG CONICET & UNL, Santa Fe
Jamsek Petra SLO Geological Survey of Slovenia (PAS, GEOQ)
Kázmér Miklós HUN Department of Palaeontology, Eötvös University (AQS)
Keefer, David USA
Kraus Werner GER Neotektonik & Georisiken, RWTH Aachen
Krohling, Daniela ARG CONICET & UNL, Santa Fe
Lalinde Pulido, Claudia COL
Lario, Javier SPA UNED Universidad Nacional a Distancia Madrid (PAS, GEM, GEOQ)
Leroy, Suzanne UKI
Lee Minjung KOR Pukyong National University (AQS, PAS)
Marco, Shmulik ISR PAS, AQS, GEOQ)
Magyari, Arpad HUN
McCalpin James USA GEO-HAZ Consulting, Inc. (PAS, GEM, GEOQ, EGE)
Mian, Tahir
Michetti Alessandro ITA Università dell Insubria (PAS, GEM, GEOQ, EGE)
Mohammadioun, Bagher
Morner, Niklas SWE
Nelson, Alan USA
Nina Lin, Yunong TAI
Okumura, Koji JAP
Ota, Yoko JAP
Papadopoulos, Gerassimos GRE
Papanikolaou Dimitrios GRE Univerity of Athens (GEOFIS, EGE)
Papanikolaou Ioannis GRE Univerity of Athens (PAS, AQS, GEM, EGE, GEOQ)
Papathanassiou George GRE Department of Geology, AUTh
Passchier Cees GER Mainz University (GEO, GEOQ, AQS)
Pavlides, Spyros GRE (GEOFIS, PAS, GEOQ, AQS)
Pérez-López Raúl SPA IGME- Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (PAS, GEM, GEOQ, AQS)
Porfido, Sabina ITA
Reicherter Klaus GER Neotektonik & Georisiken, RWTH Aachen (PAS, AQS, GEM, GEOQ, GEOFIS, EGE)
Roberts Gerald GBR Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London (PAS, GEOQ, GEM)
Rockwell, Thomas K. USA San Diego State University (PAS, GEM, GEOQ)
Rodriguez-Pascua Miguel A. SPA IGME- Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (AQS, PAS, GEOQ)
Rogozhin, Eugene RUS
Ruano Patricia SPA Granada University (PAS, GEOFIS, GEM)
Rudersdorf Andreas GER Neotektonik & Georisiken, RWTH Aachen
Salamon, Amos ISR
Serva, Leonello ITA
Scholz Christopher USA
Silva, Pablo G. SPA Dpt. Geology. Salamanca University (AQS, PAS, GEM, GEOQ, GEOFIS)
Sintubin Manuel BEL Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (AQS, EGE)
Slemmons, Burt USA
Štêpancíková Petra CZE Institute of Rock Structure and Mechanics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (PAS, AQS, GEM)
Stewart, Iain UK (GEOQ, AQS, PAS, GEOFIS)
Tatevossian, Ruben RUS
Vacchi Matteo ITA University of Genova (PAS, GEOQ)
Eutizio Vittori, ITA APAT (EGE, GEOQ, PAS)
Vollmert Andre GER RWTH Aachen
Vött Andreas GER Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (EGE, AQS)
Wiatr Thomas GER Neotektonik & Georisiken, RWTH Aachen (GEOFIS, AQS, EGE)
Zamudio, Yolanda PER
Zazo, Cari SPA CSIC - Spain (GEOQ, GEO, GEM)