Contrasting sedimentary and long-lasting geochemical imprints of seismic shaking in a small, groundwater-fed lake basin (Klopeiner See, Eastern European Alps)


  • Christoph Daxer Sedimentary Geology Research Group, Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck (Austria)
  • Katleen Wils Sedimentary Geology Research Group, Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck (Austria) and Renard Centre of Marine Geology, Department of Geology, Ghent University (Belgium)
  • Arne Ramisch Sedimentary Geology Research Group, Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck (Austria)
  • Michael Strasser Sedimentary Geology Research Group, Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck (Austria)
  • Jasper Moernaut Sedimentary Geology Research Group, Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck (Austria)



Earthquake, Lake sediment, Paleoseismicity, Eastern Alps, Sediment geochemistry


In slowly deforming tectonic settings (e.g., European Alps), large earthquakes occur too infrequently to be adequately represented in instrumental and historical records. This leads to uncertainties and inaccuracies of seismic hazard estimations. To extend the seismic record, lacustrine paleoseismologists usually resort to the sedimentary archive of large lakes where earthquakes can be recorded as mass-transport deposits and associated turbidites. The imprint of seismic shaking is generally more subtle and poorly understood in small lakes (<2 km2) with small catchments and therefore such sediment-starved basins are often neglected for paleoseismology. However, these basins might harbour additional information about past earthquakes, thus constituting a valuable supplement to other paleoseismic data. Here, we present the 18 ka-long paleoseismic record of Klopeiner See, a small and rather shallow groundwater-fed lake in the Eastern European Alps. Reflection seismic profiles and sediment cores reveal that several large earthquakes led to extensive mass-wasting in early Late-Glacial times when sedimentation rates were very high (~10 mm/yr). In the Early and Middle Holocene, low sedimentation rates (~0.2-0.5 mm/yr) may have decreased the lake’s sensitivity for recording seismic shaking and no imprints were found for paleo-earthquakes inferred from other records in the region. A short succession of turbidites at ca. 3160 cal BP suggests a burst of strong paleoseismic activity. This may have caused permanent modifications of inflowing ground water systems, archived as a permanent shift in the geochemical signal of the sediment. Such a period of enhanced paleoseismic activity was also inferred from the nearby Lake Wörthersee, but it remains unclear whether these represent the same earthquakes or migrating paleoseismicity. This study highlights the unexpected potential and peculiarities of paleoseismology on small ground-water fed lakes.


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Lithologies, core-to seismic correlation and age-depth model of core KLOP18-L1.


06-05-2024 — Updated on 15-05-2024




How to Cite

Daxer, C., Wils, K., Ramisch, A., Strasser, M., & Moernaut, J. (2024). Contrasting sedimentary and long-lasting geochemical imprints of seismic shaking in a small, groundwater-fed lake basin (Klopeiner See, Eastern European Alps). Sedimentologika, 2(1).