Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
Research article
07 Apr 2017
Research article |  | 07 Apr 2017

Path and site effects deduced from merged transfrontier internet macroseismic data of two recent M4 earthquakes in northwest Europe using a grid cell approach

Koen Van Noten, Thomas Lecocq, Christophe Sira, Klaus-G. Hinzen, and Thierry Camelbeeck

Abstract. The online collection of earthquake reports in Europe is strongly fragmented across numerous seismological agencies. This paper demonstrates how collecting and merging online institutional macroseismic data strongly improves the density of observations and the quality of intensity shaking maps. Instead of using ZIP code Community Internet Intensity Maps, we geocode individual response addresses for location improvement, assign intensities to grouped answers within 100 km2 grid cells, and generate intensity attenuation relations from the grid cell intensities. Grid cell intensity maps are less subjective and illustrate a more homogeneous intensity distribution than communal ZIP code intensity maps. Using grid cells for ground motion analysis offers an advanced method for exchanging transfrontier equal-area intensity data without sharing any personal information. The applicability of the method is demonstrated on the felt responses of two clearly felt earthquakes: the 8 September 2011 ML 4.3 (Mw 3.7) Goch (Germany) and the 22 May 2015 ML 4.2 (Mw 3.7) Ramsgate (UK) earthquakes. Both events resulted in a non-circular distribution of intensities which is not explained by geometrical amplitude attenuation alone but illustrates an important low-pass filtering due to the sedimentary cover above the Anglo-Brabant Massif and in the Lower Rhine Graben. Our study illustrates the effect of increasing bedrock depth on intensity attenuation and the importance of the WNW–ESE Caledonian structural axis of the Anglo-Brabant Massif for seismic wave propagation. Seismic waves are less attenuated – high Q – along the strike of a tectonic structure but are more strongly attenuated – low Q – perpendicular to this structure, particularly when they cross rheologically different seismotectonic units separated by crustal-rooted faults.

Short summary
Every person is a seismometer. By using people’s reports submitted online to European seismological agencies, we made new grid cell shaking intensity maps of the 2011 Goch (DE) and 2015 Ramsgate (UK) M4 earthquakes. Both events were widely felt in NW Europe and had non-concentric shaking intensity patterns which are strongly linked to the bedrock depth in the felt area. Storing intensity data in grid cells is a promising tool for seismological agencies to share intensity data anonymously.