1509 Constantinople earthquake

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1509 Constantinople earthquake
1509 Great Istanbul Earthquake.jpg
1509 Constantinople earthquake is located in Turkey
1509 Constantinople earthquake
Local date 10 September 1509 (1509-09-10)
Local time 22:00
Magnitude 7.2 Ms
Epicenter 40°54′N 28°42′E / 40.9°N 28.7°E / 40.9; 28.7Coordinates: 40°54′N 28°42′E / 40.9°N 28.7°E / 40.9; 28.7[1]
Areas affected Ottoman Empire
Casualties 1,000 to 13,000

The 1509 Constantinople earthquake occurred in the Sea of Marmara on 10 September 1509 at about 10 p.m. The earthquake had an estimated magnitude of 7.2 ± 0.3 on the surface wave magnitude scale.[2] A tsunami and forty-five days of aftershocks followed the earthquake. The death toll of this earthquake is poorly known, with estimates in the range of 1,000 to 13,000.


The Sea of Marmara is a pull-apart basin formed at a releasing bend in the North Anatolian Fault, a right-lateral strike-slip fault. This local zone of extension occurs where this transform boundary between the Anatolian Plate and the Eurasian Plate steps northwards to the west of Izmit from the Izmit Fault to the Ganos Fault. The pattern of faults within the Sea of Marmara basin is complex but near Istanbul there is a single main fault segment with a sharp bend. To the west, the fault trends west-east and is pure strike-slip in type. To the east, the fault is NW-SE trending and shows evidence of both normal and strike-slip motion.[3] Movement on this fault, which bounds the Çınarcık Basin, was the most likely cause of the 1509 event.[2]

A 1529 woodcut showing damage to the Fatih Mosque


The area of significant damage (greater than VII (Very strong)) extended from Çorlu in the west to Izmit in the east. Galata and Büyükçekmece also suffered severe damage. In Constantinople many houses collapsed, chimneys fell and walls cracked. The newly built Bayezid II Mosque was badly damaged; the main dome was destroyed and a minaret collapsed. The Fatih Mosque suffered damage to its four great columns and the dome was split. The former church of Hagia Sophia survived almost unscathed, although a minaret collapsed. Inside the mosque, the plaster that had been used to cover up the Byzantine mosaics inside the dome fell off, revealing the Christian images.[2]

The number of dead and injured is hard to estimate, with different sources giving accounts varying from 1,000 to 13,000.[2] It is believed that some members of the Ottoman dynasty died in this earthquake. Aftershocks continued for 45 days after the earthquake, and people were unable to return to their homes for two months.[citation needed]

Woodcut depicting the effects of the 1509 earthquake


The earthquake was allegedly predicted by an unnamed Greek monk from Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai while present in the Sultan's court.[2] European interpretations at the time viewed the earthquake as a sort of punishment, a punishment from God set upon the Turks for taking up arms against European Christians.[2] Similarly, Bayezid II saw it as a punishment from God, however he attributed the punishment to the wrongdoings of his ministers.[2]



From the area and intensity of shaking, a 70 km (43 mi) fault rupture has been estimated.[2] Major shocks occurred at half hour intervals and was violent and protracted in nature, forcing residents to seek refuge in open parks and squares.[2] Aftershocks were said to have continued for 18 days without causing any further damage, however it did delay reconstruction in some areas.[2]


A tsunami is mentioned in some sources with a run-up of greater than 6.0 m (19.7 ft), but discounted in others.[2] A turbidite bed whose deposition matches the date of the earthquake has been recognised in the Çınarcık Basin.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Ambraseys, N.N.; Jackson J.A. (2000). "Seismicity of the Sea of Marmara (Turkey) since 1500". Geophysical Journal International. 141 (3): F1–F6. Bibcode:2000GeoJI.141F...1A. doi:10.1046/j.1365-246x.2000.00137.x.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ambraseys, N. N. (December 2001). "The Earthquake of 1509 in the Sea of Marmara, Turkey, Revisited". Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 91 (6): 1397–1416. Bibcode:2001BuSSA..91.1397A. CiteSeerX doi:10.1785/0120000305.
  3. ^ Armijo, R.; Meyer B.; Navarro S.; King G. & Narka A. (2002). "Asymmetric slip partitioning in the Sea of Marmara pull-apart: a clue to propagation processes of the North Anatolian Fault?" (PDF). Terra Nova. 14 (2): 80–86. Bibcode:2002TeNov..14...80A. CiteSeerX doi:10.1046/j.1365-3121.2002.00397.x. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  4. ^ Lozefski, G.; McHugh C.; Cormier M-H.; Seeber L.; Çagatay N.; Okay N. (2004). "Provenance of turbidite sands in the Marmara Sea, Turkey: a tool for submarine paleoseismology". Retrieved 6 February 2010.
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