Earthquake: In Austria, earthquakes are confined to the lines of action of tectonic forces, on account of which certain areas in the Eastern Alps are pronounced earthquake areas. There is a continuous line of foci of seismicity which extends from the Leitha river along the eastern edge of the Alps ( Thermenlinie), the Semmering pass and the Mur and Muerz valleys down to Carinthia; further earthquake zones are Tirol north of the Inn river and the Drau/Drava valley. Tectonic earthquake foci are also found in the Bohemian Massif (Lower Austria: Neulengbach and Scheibbs, Upper Austria: Molln). The earliest reference to an earthquake in Austria, which is stated as having occurred in the vicinity of Tulln, is found in the "Vita Severini" (480 A.D.). The first chronologically dated destructive quake of major proportions was the one at Murau on May 5, 1201. The most violent earthquake to date was the "Earthquake of Villach" of January 25, 1348, which caused considerable damage in the city and was associated with a major landslide on Dobratsch mountain (Villacher Alpe). In eastern Austria there was a particularly intense quake in the night of September 15/16, 1590, which had its epicentre at Neulengbach).
An earthquake commission of the Academy of Sciences was established on April 24, 1895 to study seismic phenomena in Austria, with observatories at Kremsmuenster (1898) and Vienna (1902). In 1904 the commission became part of the Zentralanstalt fuer Meteorologie und Geodynamik (Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics). Further seismographs were set up in Graz in 1904 and in Innsbruck in 1912. Since 1945 all public institutions, and especially the police and gendarmerie, have been under the obligation to report whatever observations they may have made.
Literature#E. Suess, Die Erdbeben Niederoesterreichs, Denkschrift of the Akademy of Sciences, 1873; Mitteilungen der Erdbeben-Kommission, from 1896 in the minutes of the Academy of Sciences, since 1901 as separate series under the title "Neue Folge"; J. Drimmel, Rezente Seismizitaet und Seismotektonik des Ostalpenraumes, in: R. Oberhauser, Der geologische Aufbau Oesterreichs, 1980; R. Gutdeutsch et al., Erdbeben als historisches Ereignis. Die Rekonstruktion des Bebens von 1590 in Niederoesterreich, 1993; C. Hammerl and W. A. Lenhardt, Erdbeben in Oesterreich, 1997.