MembersEarthquakes in Jerusalem: When’s the Next Big One?

Professor Amotz Agnon of The Hebrew University explains where and how scientists can tell us what to expect.

By Prof. Amotz Agnon | | Topics: Natural Disasters
Ruins of the ancient city of Beit She'an in the Jordan Valley in northern Israel.
Ruins of the ancient city of Beit She'an in the Jordan Valley in northern Israel. Photo: Shutterstock

Jerusalem earthquakes have left written marks long before the recording of detailed history, with the first one in the mid-8th century BC. This earthquake hit Jerusalem during the reign of King Uzziah and earned several references in the Bible. One particular reference (to be reviewed below) is by the prophet Zachariah, whose words convey a surprising geological insight. Some documented earthquakes merely created panic to such an extent as to be recorded, some toppled houses, and a few devastated massive edifices accompanied by heavy death tolls.

 

Tremblers in the Holy City

A score of documented earthquakes have hit Jerusalem during the last couple of millennia. The latest serious earthquake, the Jericho earthquake, devastated numerous houses in in the city on July 11, 1927. Almost four centuries earlier, an earthquake of similar magnitude shook Jerusalem’s defensive walls five years after having been rebuilt by order of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

  Hundreds of earthquakes every year

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