List of earthquakes in the Levant

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Seismic hazard for the Eastern Mediterranean from the Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program (GSHAP) in terms of peak ground acceleration with a 10% chance of being exceeded (or a 90% chance of not being exceeded) within the next 50 years

This is a list of earthquakes in the Levant, including earthquakes that either had their epicenter in the Levant or caused significant damage in the region. As it is now, the list is focused on events which affected the territories of modern-day Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria and to some degree the adjacent areas of South Anatolia, Cyprus island and the Sinai Peninsula (modern Turkey, Cyprus, Northern Cyprus and Egypt).

Seismic hazard[edit]

The Jordan Rift Valley is the result of tectonic movements within the Dead Sea Transform (DSF) fault system. The DSF forms the transform boundary between the African Plate to the west and the Arabian Plate to the east. The Golan Heights and all of Transjordan are part of the Arabian Plate, while the Galilee, Judean and Samarian highlands (West Bank), Coastal Plain and Negev along with the Sinai Peninsula are on the African Plate. This tectonic disposition leads to a relatively high seismic activity in the region.


The region has experienced many earthquakes, the most destructive ones being those of 31 BC, 363, 749, and 1033. Major earthquakes have included:

  • 140 BC – disastrous earthquake between Tyre and Ptolemais (Acre/Akko)[1][2]
  • 92 BC – Judean coast hit by tsunamis[3]
  • 31 BC – epicenter in the Jordan Valley, magnitude at least 7; among the largest in 2000 years.[1] Josephus Flavius writes of 30,000 people killed.[4] Damages Emmaus and Straton's Tower (renamed Caesarea by Herod the Great).[2]
  • 30–33 AD – An earthquake, identified in the geological strata of the Dead Sea and by Roman sources, reported by the Gospels to have taken place during the crucifixion of Jesus[5]
  • 115 AD – 115 Antioch earthquake; Yavne and Caesarea are hit by a tsunami[3]
  • 130 – strong earthquakes affect among other places Caesarea, Lydda and Emmaus.[3] Different sources give varying dates: 129,[6] 131[1][7]
  • 306 – tsunami on the Levantine coast.[2] Affects or is felt in Caesarea, Tiberias, Jerusalem.
  • 363 – the Galilee earthquake. See also next (365 CE) earthquake. The failed attempt of the Jews to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple during the reign of Emperor Julian is connected by some to the earthquake.
  • 419 – earthquake causes destruction in Antipatris[3]
  • 502 – Ptolemais allegedly destroyed (Syriac chronicle of Joshua the Stylite[8]), tsunami hits northern coast,[3] Safed, Latrun (Nicopolis) affected[9]
  • 526 – 526 Antioch earthquake
  • 551 – affects much of the Middle East, possibly largest event in the Levant (see 551 Beirut earthquake).[1][2] Gush Halav is destroyed. A major tsunami sweeps the coast from Caesarea to Tripoli, Lebanon[3]
  • 633 – affects Emmatha in the Yarmouk Valley[10]
  • 658 – affects Syria and Palestine.[2] Jerusalem is badly damaged according to the chronicles of Michael the Syrian and Theophanes the Confessor.[11]
  • 672 – Ascalon, Gaza and Ramla hit by strong earthquake[3]
  • 746–749 – a series of earthquakes, often confused into one (see 749 Galilee earthquake). Tiberias, Baysan (Beit She'an) and Hippos were largely destroyed. A large event was centered in the Jordan Valley and had a magnitude of 7.6.[1][2]
  • 808 – An earthquake affects Jerusalem[1]
  • 847 – 847 Damascus earthquake
  • 881 – 881 Acre earthquake. An earthquake on the Levantine coast leads to a tsunami at Acre[2]
  • 1016 – Jerusalem, Jaffa and the region around are affected[1][12]
  • 1033–34 – a series of earthquakes which are felt for 40 days[clarification needed][dubious ] destroys Ramla, Jericho and Nablus[1]
  • 1063 – a large earthquake hits the Levantine littoral. Acre is badly damaged[3]
  • 1068 – ground-rupturing event in Wadi Arabah. Ramla was totally destroyed and lay abandoned for four years after losing some 15,000–25,000 inhabitants in the earthquake.[13]
  • 1070 – a large earthquake centered in the Beqaa Valley affects Palestine[1][2]
  • 1091 – coastal towns affected, city towers collapse[3]
  • 1138 – 1138 Aleppo earthquake
  • 1157 – 1157 Hama earthquake
  • 1170 – 1170 Syria earthquake Caesarea damaged by tremor[3]
  • 1202 – 1202 Syria earthquake[9]
  • 1261 – between Akko and Tripoli islands disappear under the sea[3]
  • 1660 - Tiberias hit by an earthquake.[14]
  • 1752 – coast of Syria and Palestine hit by strong earthquake[3]
  • 1759 – Near East earthquakes of 1759
  • 1834 – 1834 Jerusalem earthquake: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron are affected
  • 1837 – Galilee earthquake of 1837, known as the Safed earthquake. The Roum fault, and its extension south to the Sea of Galilee, were sources of the event[15]
  • 1898 – Haifa damaged by earthquake[3]
  • 1927 – 1927 Jericho earthquake. The epicenter was in the northern area of the Dead Sea. Jerusalem, Jericho, Ramle, Tiberias and Nablus were heavily damaged and at least 500 were estimated to have been killed.[16] The death toll in Jerusalem included more than 130 people and around 450 were injured. About 300 houses collapsed or were severely damaged to the point of not being usable. The earthquake caused heavy damage to the domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the al-Aqsa Mosque. The earthquake was especially severe in Nablus where it destroyed around 300 buildings, including the Mosque of Victory and the historic parts of the Great Mosque of Nablus.[17] The death toll in Nablus included more than 150 people and around 250 were injured. In Jericho, a number of houses collapsed, including several relatively new hotels in one of which three female tourists from India were killed.[18] Ramla and Tiberias were also heavily damaged.
  • 1956 – 1956 Chim earthquake: In the south of Lebanon in the Chouf District; 6,000 homes destroyed, and another 17,000 damaged; 136 persons killed.
  • 2008 – A 5.1 Mw  earthquake shook South Lebanon, causing power outages and some building damage on February 15. Of several hundred responses to the USGS' "Did you feel it?" system, three reports from northern coastal Israel indicated that a maximum Mercalli intensity of VI (Strong) was observed there. The oblique-slip shock was also felt lightly in Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Jordan.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i John L. McKenzie S. J. (1995). Dictionary Of The Bible. New York: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-684-81913-6.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Walter Hays (2013). "2013 Review of notable earthquakes in the Mediterranean region". University of Pittsburgh.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Avner Rabban; Kenneth G. Holum, eds. (1996). Caesarea Maritima: A retrospective after two millennia. Documenta et Monumenta Orientis Antiqui, V. 21 (Book 21). Brill. p. 23. ISBN 9789004103788.
  4. ^ Josephus Flavius (2009), "Chapter 19-4", The wars of the Jews or history of the destruction of Jerusalem (PDF)
  5. ^ Williams, Jefferson; Schwab, Markus; Brauer, A. (2011). "An early first-century earthquake in the Dead Sea". International Geology Review. 54 (10): 1219. Bibcode:2012IGRv...54.1219W. doi:10.1080/00206814.2011.639996.
  6. ^ "late Roman period -".
  7. ^ Sharon, 1997, p. 79
  8. ^ "Joshua the Stylite, Chronicle composed in Syriac in AD 507". 1882. pp. 1–76.
  9. ^ a b Mohamed Reda Sbeinati; Ryad Darawcheh; Mikhail Mouty (2005). "The historical earthquakes of Syria: an analysis of large and moderate earthquakes from 1365 B.C. to 1900 A.D." Annals of Geophysics, Vol. 48, N. 3, June 2005. pp. 381, 389–391, 410.
  10. ^ Khalidi, Walid (1992). All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies. p. 518. ISBN 0-88728-224-5.
  11. ^ Gülru Neci̇poğlu, Julia Bailey, ed. (2009). Frontiers of Islamic Art and Architecture: Essays in Celebration of Oleg Grabar's Eightieth Birthday. Muqarnas, Volume XXV. Brill. p. 82, note 14. ISBN 9789004173279.
  12. ^ "The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project".
  13. ^ History Archived 2015-11-21 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Altshuler, M. The Messianic secret. Chapter 8: The beginning of redemption in Galilee. Hebrew: ספר – הסוד המשיחי[1]
  15. ^ Ambraseys, Nicolas N. (1997), "The earthquake of 1 January 1837 in Southern Lebanon and Northern Israel" (PDF), Annals of Geophysics, Istituto Nazionale Geofisica e Vulcanologia, XL (4): 929, doi:10.4401/ag-3887
  16. ^ Kallner-Amiran, D. H. "A Revised Earthquake Catalog of Palestine". Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  17. ^ Wachs, Daniel; Levitte, Dov (June 1978), Damage Caused By Landslides During the Earthquakes of 1837 and 1927 in the Galilee Region, Geological Survey of Israel
  18. ^ Duff, Douglas V. (1934) Sword for Hire. The Saga of a Modern Free-Companion. John Murray, London. 1st Edition. pp.219–227
  19. ^ USGS. "M 5.1 - Lebanon - Syria region". United States Geological Survey (USGS).