The earthquake of September 3, 1770 near Alfhausen (Lower Saxony, Germany): a real, doubtful, or fake event?
Leydecker, Günter; Lehmann, Klaus, 2020: The earthquake of September 3, 1770 near Alfhausen (Lower Saxony, Germany): a real, doubtful, or fake event?. In: Historical Earthquakes, Paleoseismology, Neotectonics and Seismic Hazard: New Insights and Suggested Procedures: 36 - 52, DOI: 10.23689/fidgeo-3865.
In the weekly newspaper of Osnabrück (Germany) of November 3, 1770, a report about a local earthquake was published. Pastor Buck described ground motion effects in the manor ‘Haus Horst’, 1.5 km away from the village of Alfhausen: ‘roof tiles rattled, a chimney fell down, inside the house the top of a stove was overturned, abraded chalk trickled down in all rooms; in the nearby villages, people felt the shaking, and especially the churches suffered noticeably’. The epicentral intensity was estimated to VII (MSK) by Ahorner et al. (1970), but later modified to VI (EMS) by Meier & Grünthal (1992) considering Buck’s report in detail. Since this event is the only documented earthquake in this region, a reliable characterization of its parameters is important. Our re-examination reveals that some reported effects are quite contradictory. Contrary to Buck’s statement, no documents of damages on churches or costs of repairs could be found in the parish registers. As a result, the event appears to be a tectonic earthquake with an epicenter at Alfhausen / Haus Horst. Applying intensity-attenuation relationships, a revised value of the epicentral intensity of I_0≤V (EMS-98) with a focal depth of z≥2 km was derived. A cavity collapse due to leaching processes as a cause of the effects can be ruled out here. However, several details given in the primary source turned out to be unrealistic or at least exaggerated. The tectonic earthquake on September 3, 1770 near Alfhausen should be classified therefore as uncertain or even doubtful.