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Central Europe's Worst Earthquake Explained
1356 Basel Earthquake
Beneath the suburban neighborhoods and forests immediately south of Basel, Switzerland, an active fault continues to tremble, some 645 years after it caused the worst earthquake in central European history. A new study finally pinpoints the exact source of the devastating 1356 Basel earthquake. It also describes a consistent pattern of seismic activity that "points to a recurrence time for a 1356-type earthquake in the Basel area of about 1,500 to 2,500 years."
Though researchers emphasize that they can't predict the next major earthquake with certainty, this seismic pattern would give the region time to safeguard infrastructure and fine-tune emergency procedures. An active fault, marked at ground-level by a fault scarp, has caused three successive ruptures near Basel, moving the Earth's surface upward by 1.8 meters (about 6 feet), over the past 8,500 years. Basel may not suffer a massive earthquake in this century, but the presence of nuclear and chemical industry in the area means that any seismic activity could threaten public safety. "We need to take precautionary measures now," co-author Domenico Giardini says.
-- Ginger Pinholster