Dating large infrequent earthquakes by damaged cave deposits


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Publication Date

April 2005


The long-term recurrence patterns of past earthquakes are of considerable consequence for hazard assessments, and have implications for earthquake physics. We introduce a rigorously dated record of earthquakes from an extensive number of well-preserved preseismic and postseismic precipitates from caves located off the Dead Sea transform. We dated events directly at the paleoseismic contact by means of a novel correlation method with the oxygen isotope record of the speleothems recovered in one of the caves. Within the 185 k.y. covered, we dated 38 seismite samples. These stem from 13–18 earthquakes with a mean recurrence interval of ∼10–14 k.y. We show that the deformational events dated in the study caves complement independent near-fault paleoseismic records by temporal correlation with the earthquakes recorded therein. This opens up a significant new avenue of earthquake research that will provide precise dating and observational constraints on large infrequent earthquakes.


Eearthquake Physics, Dating, Large Infrequent Earthquake, Damaged Cave Deposits

Document Type



Geology, Vol. 33, no. 4 (2005-04-01).