There is growing evidence that climate-induced melting of large ice sheets has been able to trigger fault reactivation and earthquakes around the migrating ice limit. Even today, the stress due to glacial isostatic adjustment can continue to induce seismicity within the once-glaciated region. Northern Central Europe lies outside the former ice margin and is regarded as a low-seismicity area. However, several historic earthquakes with intensities of up to VII occurred in this region during the past 1200 years. Here we show with numerical simulations that the seismicity can potentially be explained by the decay of the Scandinavian ice sheet after the Weichselian glaciation. Combination of historic earthquake epicenters with fault maps relates historic seismicity to major reverse faults of Late Cretaceous age. Mesozoic normal faults remained inactive in historic times. We suggest that many faults in northern Central Europe are active during postglacial times. This is a novelty that sheds new light on the distribution of postglacial faulting and seismicity. In addition, we present the first consistent model that can explain both the occurrence of deglaciation seismicity and the historic earthquakes in northern Central Europe.
- Received 16 February 2015.
- Revision received 21 April 2015.
- Accepted 23 April 2015.
- © Geological Society of America