Journal of Seismology

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 313–333 | Cite as

Linking ground motion measurements and macroseismic observations in France: a case study based on accelerometric and macroseismic databases

  • Chloé Lesueur
  • Michel Cara
  • Oona Scotti
  • Antoine Schlupp
  • Christophe Sira
Original Article


Comparison between accelerometric and macroseismic observations is made for three M w = 4.5 earthquakes, which occurred in north-eastern France and south-western Germany in 2003 and 2004. Scalar and spectral instrumental parameters are processed from the accelerometric data recorded by nine accelerometric stations located between 29 and 180 km from the epicentres. Macroseismic data are based on French Internet reports. In addition to the single questionnaire intensity, analysis of the internal correlation between the encoded answers highlights four predominant fields of questions bearing different physical meanings: (1) “vibratory motions of small objects”, (2) “displacement and fall of objects”, (3) “acoustic noise” and (4) “personal feelings”. Best correlations between macroseismic and instrumental observations are obtained when the macroseismic parameters are averaged over 10-km-radius circles around each station. Macroseismic intensities predicted by published peak ground velocity (PGV)–intensity relationships agree with our observed intensities, contrary to those based on peak ground acceleration (PGA). Correlation between the macroseismic and instrumental data for intensities between II and V (EMS-98) is better for PGV than for PGA. Correlation with the response spectra exhibits clear frequency dependence for all macroseismic parameters. Horizontal and vertical components are significantly correlated with the macroseismic parameters between 1 and 10 Hz, a range corresponding to both natural frequencies of most buildings and high energy content in the seismic ground motion. Between 10 and 25 Hz, a clear lack of correlation between macroseismic and instrumental observations exists. It could be due to a combination of the decrease in the energy signal above 10 Hz, a high level of anthropogenic noise and an increase in variability in soil conditions. Above 25 Hz, the correlation coefficients between the acceleration response spectra and the macroseismic parameters are close to the PGA correlation level.


Macroseismic intensity Peak ground motion Response spectra Correlation Online questionnaire Strong motion network 



We are thankful to Fabian Bonilla, from IRSN-IFSTTAR, who helped us with the instrumental data processing. Maria Lancieri, from IRSN, provided invaluable assistance in clarifying the statistical concepts applied to macroseismic data. Two anonymous reviewers greatly helped us improve a former version of the manuscript. Within the framework of the RAP consortium, Chloé Lesueur benefited from a grant of the French Ministry in charge of Environment and Natural Hazards (MEDDTL) and Institut de Radioprotection et de Sureté Nucléaire (IRSN).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chloé Lesueur
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michel Cara
    • 2
  • Oona Scotti
    • 1
  • Antoine Schlupp
    • 3
  • Christophe Sira
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN)Fontenay-aux-Roses CedexFrance
  2. 2.Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg (CNRS/UdS, EOST)Université de StrasbourgStrasbourg CedexFrance
  3. 3.Bureau Central Sismologique Français (BCSF), (CNRS/UdS, EOST)Université de StrasbourgStrasbourg CedexFrance

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