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Environment and History

Historical Seismology in Switzerland: Reflections on Issues and Insights

Monika Gisler

Environment and History 9(2003): 215-237

Historical seismology cannot rely on instrumental measurement alone; investigation depends mainly on the evaluation of historical sources. Improving the quality of historical data underlying macroseismic and seismological parameters has been proposed as a desideratum. As a consequence, the investigation and interpretation of historical documents have been encouraged during the last two decades, and seismologists and historians have worked together. Attempts at combining reconstruction of physical processes with the discursive perceptions of a disaster need an interdisciplinary approach. Current discussions in cultural science have heightened the sensitivity of historians, leading them to seek and elaborate new models and to establish contact with scientific disciplines. The revision of the new unified Earthquake Catalog of Switzerland and neighbouring regions (ECOS) during 2000-2002 has to be settled within this context. The objective of the revision was basic research on historical, macroseismic and seismological levels. This paper focuses mainly on methodological approaches, relating to historical and macroseismic purposes, adopted during this project.


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