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Austrian Earthquake activity PDF Print E-mail

For more information on current seismic activity please follow this link to the Austrian Seismological Service.

Earthquakes in Austria are not as rare as one might think. The last earthquake with an intensity degree of 8 (heavy building damage) occurred on October 8, 1927 in Schwadorf within the Vienna Basin - not far from Vienna. The most recent earthquake of intensity 7 happened in Seebenstein on April 16, 1972. The event caused damage to the University of Vienna and damaged many chimneys even in Vienna. The fire brigade was called out more than 800-times to clear the debris.

The earthquake catalogue of Austria covers seismic events starting in the 13th century. Naturally, older documents need to be treated with great care and interpretations are often difficult and time consuming. Nevertheless, these old descriptions give valuable information regarding extent and intensity of historical events of this kind. Regions which are frequently exposed to earthquakes can be seen in the following epicentral map of the Austrian territory in which all felt earthquakes are plotted.

Earthquakes in Austria

Already looking at the map of epicentres, the seismically active faults become apparent.  The Vienna Basin, Mur-Mürztal-fault as well as the Inn-Valley and the Lavant Valley in Carinthia are the most prominent seismic regions. Most earthquakes tend to happen at a depth of around 8 km. Shallower earthquakes (1 - 4 km) occur mainly in the eastern part of the Vienna Basin and in the Bohemian Massif, especially in Pregarten (Upper Austria). Fortunately strong earthquakes are rare in Austria, however several have been documented since 1201.

In order to mitigate the damage to buildings beforehand, the Austrian Institute for Standards (ÖNORM) has published a building code for earthquakes resistant design which can be ordered from:
Österreichischen Normungsinstitut
, Heinestr. 38, PO Box 130, A-1021 Vienna.

Additional information on the earthquakes Katschberg 1201, Frial 1348, Ried am Riederberg 1590, Wr. Neustadt 1768 und Leoben 1794 can be found at ZAMG Historische Beben in Österreich (German only).

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