Is the Lower Rhine bay more shaky than expected?
According to the findings of Belgian seismologists, stronger earthquakes than previously assumed could occur in the Lower Rhine Bay. A study by the European Union is now intended to clarify whether the risk is actually higher, and thus also whether the current DIN standards for dangerous industrial plants are still sufficient for this risk potential. Geophysicists from the Royal Belgian Observatory in Brussels had investigated what is known as the Bree fault – known in Germany as Feldbiß. This approximately ten-kilometer-long fault in East Belgium near the town of Bree is part of the Lower Rhine Bight system. The researchers tried to use the relatively new method of paleoseismology to study earthquake activity over the past 400 years.000 years to reconstruct. Conclusion of the investigation: In the prehistoric past, earthquakes at this fault significantly exceeded the maximum strength assumed on the basis of historical records. Geologists now believe earthquakes measuring more than 6.5 on the Richter scale are possible.
"Earthquake cycles in Western Europe last much longer than in tectonically active areas such as California," Thiery Camelbeek from the Royal Belgian Observatory in Brussels explains the difference. "Historical records alone are no longer sufficient to describe seismic cycles here." The meticulous measurements revealed an offset of up to 20 meters in the same layers. Camelbeek says: "Strong earthquakes are a possible explanation for such a high offset." Earthquakes of such force could potentially pose a threat to critical buildings such as power plants or chemical plants. A research project commissioned by the European Union is now to reassess the risk of strong earthquakes in the region.