Earthquakes: Dalmatia Among Most Threatened Areas in Croatia

Lauren Simmonds

Dubrovnik was almost wiped off the map during the 1600’s, but just how prepared is Dalmatia for a potentially devastating earthquake in the modern day? Not very, it would seem.

As Morski writes on the 9th of September, 2018, natural disasters often appear to be becoming all the more frequent, and people are naturally increasingly afraid of their potentially dire consequences despite technology and the possibility of protection constantly evolving.

Recent earthquakes on the territory of the Republic of Croatia and neighbouring countries have attracted public attention, and public fear is greater than a possible (bigger) catastrophe, but there are many factors that affect public perception. A lack of correct information or education on earthquakes can sometimes cause unnecessary panic, just as it can result in greater, unneccessary losses in moments when such incidents actually do occur, according to Dalmacija Danas.

The territory of the Republic of Croatia is part of the Mediterranean-Transactional Area (holding 15 percent of world earthquakes) which includes the collision point of the African and Indian plates with the Eurasian lithosphere plate. The earthquakes in Croatia and the region are a result of the ”underlining” of the African lithosphere plate under the Eurasian one.

Despite the fact that the human species is constantly evolving, and therefore our technological achievements and advancements are continually increasing, Mother Nature and her earthquakes are still unpredictable. With regard to the movement of the lithosphere plates and the distribution of previous earthquakes, it can be said with some good estimates in which areas earthquakes will likely occur, but it’s impossible to predict their time, their strength, and their potential intensity.

When compared with some of the strongest and most devastating earthquakes around the world, whose reading by use of the Richter scale would have exceeded 8, there has not been such a case so far in our wider area. However, this does not mean that there is no prospect of such a thing happening. Indeed, the unpredictability of earthquakes in general can teach us that such things should not be bridged with simple conclusions.

Unlike the relatively quieter eastern part of continental Croatia, coastal Croatia and Dalmatia are much more ”active” when it comes to earthquake frequency. In addition to the known fact that earthquakes occurring in the region of Dalmatia are more frequent than they are in other parts of the country, they are, on average, somewhat stronger.

Particular emphasis should be placed on the wider Dubrovnik area which borders the Neretva river on the northern side. Dubrovnik was all but wiped from the face of earth during an earthquake in the 1600’s, as 5,000 local lives were taken and the city was flattened. Another significant area is the Central Dalmatian hinterland, particularly from Sinj through to Imotski, to Vrgorac and the Mosor area, and part of the Central Dalmatian coast, with a focus on the Trogir area above all.

Given the historical events, it is possible to expect that the territory of the Republic of Croatia, especially the southern Dalmatian part, will hit once again by a devastating earthquake. Whether the inhabitants of these areas are infrastructureally and logistically prepared for the consequences of such a possible natural catastrophe is another question entirely.

One only needs to recall other natural disasters that have affected this area, from floods to fires, and even during those more recent times, including the dreadful wildfires which devastated Dalmatia last year, residents were all but ready, so it’s difficult to expect any different in earthquake situations.


Click here for the original article by Tin Zaja for Dalmacija Danas


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