"A Basic European Earthquake Catalogue and a Database
for the evaluation of long-term seismicity and seismic hazard" (BEECD)
(an Environment/II EC project - 95/02-97/12)



The main goal of the project BEECD was to compile a homogeneous, Basic European parametric Earthquake Catalogue and a Database of primary data, to serve as a tool for understanding the long-term seismicity and a reliable input for seismic hazard assessment.
This goal was intended to be accomplished by first retrieving, evaluating and improving the supporting primary data and then assessing a new set of parameters for as many earthquakes as possible, according to uniform procedures. This means that BEECD intended to avoid two procedures which are currently used, though they are very unsatisfactory:

The main tasks of the project were (see the flow-chart below):
  1. selection of input earthquake catalogues and compilation of a comprehensive working file
  2. evaluation of the supporting data sets
  3. investigation for improving the supporting data sets
  4. organisation of the archive of the supporting data
  5. implementation of the procedures for the determination of earthquake parameters and compilation of the parametric European catalogue.

Flow-chart of the project.

As the compilation of a complete European earthquake catalogue might involve the analysis of several tens of thousands of entries, it was meant that the project would mostly concentrate on damaging earthquakes and, among them, on a basic set of strong earthquakes essential for hazard assessment; that is, the largest earthquakes with respect to the seismicity of each area.

By European it was meant the territories of the countries belonging to EC and neighbouring areas, west of 31° East. Actually, for the assessment of seismic hazard of Europe it is necessary to take into consideration also the seismic sources which lie outside EC and can affect its territory. Therefore, the investigation had to cover also large earthquakes, the epicentral areas of which do not fall within EC frontiers but which have significantly affected the EC countries.

By long-term it was meant as far back as data allow. The data potential for the Middle Ages and before is not uniform throughout Europe: therefore, a comprehensive review of this time-window would have required heavy historical investigation, was likely to be extremely time-consuming, and to produce a badly incomplete set of data. On the other hand, the time-window of the XX century presents special problems due to the combination of macroseismic and instrumental data; as another research was in progress on this topic (e.g. GSHAP), only limited efforts were devoted to it. The final choice was therefore the time-window 1400-1899.

The goals of the project and the single tasks were focused on the occasion of two general meetings (Milano, November 1995 and April 1997) and ten regional/local ones of the project. Partners also met during the ESC General Assembly of Reykiavik (1996) and Tel Aviv (1998).
Because of the necessity of investigating an area larger than the countries to which the partners belonged, the collaboration of other European institutions was sought, with good results.
Partial output of the project were presented at the EC review meeting (Brussels, May 1996) and at international conferences. The material (papers and reports) issued from the project is presented in the relevant Annex.

The main results and deliverables of the project are:

  1. the qualified BEECD working file 1400-1899 (WF): a file where the main European parametric earthquake catalogues, frozen as they were in the most recent public version, are compiled together according to a standard format. In this file the supporting data sets (roots) have been qualified by means of an ad hoc classification tool (root class), developed in the frame of the project and then divided into three levels (acceptable, average, low). The extension of the WF to the time-windows before 1400 and after 1900 was also initiated;
  2. the inventory, qualification and formatting of more than 1000 roots of higher root class with respect to the corresponding ones, not fully used, yet, for upgrading the national catalogues;
  3. more than 600 earthquake studies, devoted to increase the quality of the supporting data sets for allowing better parameters determination. This research allowed the identification of some tens of so far unknown earthquakes;
  4. a file of about 150 fake quakes, that is, a file of entries which were inserted in the current PEC on the basis of the conclusions of previous studies (in general earthquake compilations) which were proved inconsistent by recent, reliable historical investigation;
  5. the start of the construction of the European Earthquake Roots Database - including the European intensity database - with special reference to a basic set of 383 strong earthquakes, selected among the largest earthquakes with respect to 4 European sub-areas;
  6. a survey of the procedures of earthquake parameters determination used by the current catalogues and/or proposed more recently, including some tests and proposals toward uniform procedures;
  7. a simple, robust and standard procedure for implementing hereafter the data set and the related parametric earthquake catalogue;
  8. the application of the procedure to start the compilation of the parametric European Catalogue of Damaging Earthquakes 1400-1899 (EuCaDE, parametric catalogue of the events above the damage threshold, Io/Ix >= 5/6, M >= 4.0).
Most of the material mentioned above is on the way of being made available to public on the server "Emidius" at the address http://emidius.irrs.mi.cnr.it/BEECD.
In the frame of the project also the two volumes (Stucchi, 1993; Albini and Moroni, 1994), which represent the output of the previous, precursor EC project "Review of Historical Seismicity in Europe" (RHISE), have been made available on the same server (Rubbia Rinaldi, 1996) at the address http://emidius.irrs.mi.cnr.it/RHISE.

As this report shows, the project achieved many results. However, as BEECD was firstly devoted to evaluate and make available the existing material, and next to perform investigation aiming to fill "holes" of knowledge, in order to avoid effort duplications, most results are not worth to be published on their own but rather only in a more comprehensive frame.
Therefore, it has been planned to publish, as a joint output of BEECD and other initiatives, the following items: