1901 Black Sea earthquake

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1901 Black Sea earthquake
1901 Black Sea earthquake is located in Bulgaria
1901 Black Sea earthquake
Date March 31, 1901 (1901-03-31)
Origin time 7:12[1]
Magnitude 7.2 Mw
Depth 15 km (9 mi)
Areas affected Romania
Max. intensity IX–X
Tsunami 4–5 m
Landslides Yes
Aftershocks Hundreds
Casualties Unknown

The 1901 Black Sea earthquake was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake,[2] the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the Black Sea.[3] The earthquake epicenter was located in the east of Cape Shabla-Kaliakra, 30 km off northwest coast of Bulgaria.[4] The mainshock occured at a depth of 15 km and generated a 4–5 m high tsunami that devastated the coastal areas of Romania and Bulgaria.[5] In Romania, the earthquake was felt not only throughout Dobrogea, but also in Oltenia and Muntenia, and even in southern Moldova.

The earthquake was followed by a large number of local replicas and secondary earthquakes, that have occurred over many years, until 1905; the strongest aftershocks reached magnitudes of 5.5-6.0 on the Richter scale and were also felt in southern Romania, including Bucharest. After 1905, Pontic seismic activity began to subtract, although weak and moderate earthquakes were also reported in subsequent years.

Such events are rare in the Black Sea. In the last 200 years, in the Black Sea region occurred 24 tsunamis of which two were in the territory of Dobrogea. The earliest recorded tsunami in Romania dates from 104, when the city of Callatis, current Mangalia, was badly affected.[6]


The off-shore region of Southern Dobruja, especially the epicentral area located in the south of Mangalia, including the Bulgarian off-shore of the Black Sea, has been emphasized, along the years, by earthquakes which in certain cases have been violent, reaching magnitudes of 7–7.5 on Richter scale. These are also crustal earthquakes, of low depth (5–30 km), with severe effects on the epicentral area. Sometimes, in case of earthquakes with underwater focus (as those located in the east of Shabla Cape), tsunami waves were generated, like in 1901.

Research studies carried out by experts have shown that Pontic earthquakes with destructive behaviour, comparable to that in 1901, repeat at mean periods of 300–500 years. Besides the earthquake in 1901, there are also known very strong Pontic earthquakes in 1444 (likely, with its epicentre in Varna), around year 800, in 543, etc.[7] The Black Sea is considered one of the most violent seas due to its seismic activity.[5]


The earthquake had devastating consequences in the coastal area of southern Mangalia, many villages being ruined (maximum intensity of IX–X on Mercalli scale); likewise, the earthquake generated a 4–5 m high tsunami wave and there occurred banks dislocations and other local geomorphological phenomena.[8] In Bucharest, the seismic intensity was V–VI degrees on the Mercalli scale, causing panic among the population and light damage to buildings.

The Bulgarian province of Dobrich was also severely hit by tsunami. In several localities, including Balchik, homes were rushed by waters.[9]


  1. ^ Mihaela Dicu (21 January 2014). "Cutremurele din România (partea I)". Astrele (in Romanian). 
  2. ^ "Some geoindications of recent geological activity along the northern Bulgarian coast", Lithuanian Geological Survey
  3. ^ "S-a cutremurat Marea Neagră", Jurnalul.ro, August 5, 2009
  4. ^ Valentin Dimitriu (5 August 2009). "Cutremure în Marea Neagră: pericol de tsunami?". Ziare.com (in Romanian). 
  5. ^ a b Darius Martinescu (27 November 2008). "Tsunami în Marea Neagră". România Liberă (in Romanian). 
  6. ^ Antoaneta Etves (8 September 2005). "Tsunami de Marea Neagră". 9AM (in Romanian). 
  7. ^ "Seismic risk in Romania", Bauhaus-University Weimar
  8. ^ "Cutremure și tsunami în Constanța", Ziua de Constanța, May 1, 2009
  9. ^ "Tsunami hazard in the Black Sea and the Azov Sea: a new tsunami catalogue", Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences

Coordinates: 43°24′N 28°42′E / 43.400°N 28.700°E / 43.400; 28.700