In Hungary, systematic earthquake data collection started at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1814, a detailed seismological report was written by Pál Kitaibel and Ádám Tomcsányi on the great, M5.4 magnitude Mór earthquake of January 14, 1810. In this paper, the authors plotted the first isoseismal map to illustrate the intensity distribution of the event.

Isoseismal map of the Mór earthquake

Impact of the Mór, Hungary earthquake of January 14, 1810.


Institutional earthquake research started at the end of the 19th century in Hungary. Exactly one year after a great earthquake in Zagreb (Nov. 9, 1880, M6.3), the Permanent Earthquake Committee was established within the Hungarian Geological Society in 1881. This was the second institution of this kind in Europe. The main task that was determined by the Committee was to collect all earthquake information, mainly macroseismic data, from the territory of the countries of the Hungarian crown. Besides this mission, the Committee decided to establish a seismological station network to be able to gather instrumental earthquake data as well.

Although at this time the Royal Meteorological Institute had already been collecting earthquake information for a few years in the country, the Permanent Earthquake Committee can be considered as the ancestor of the present Seismological Observatory.

In 1900, Radó Kövesligethy was delegated by the Earthquake Committee to study the Strasbourg Institute and other seismological observatories in Europe. In his report, Kövesligethy proposed the organization of a seismograph station network in Hungary and selected five localities for these stations. The first stations were established in 1901, and regular observations started in 1902. In 1905, Kövesligethy was elected as the first Secretary General of the newly established organization “Association Internationale de Seismologie”.


Portrait of Kövesligethy Radó

Radó Kövesligethy


Kövesligethy was quite successful in his effort of developing the national seismological network. By the end of 1914, ten seismological stations had been set up in the country at the following locations: Budapest, Fiume (currently Rijeka, Croatia), Kalocsa, Kecskemét, Kolozsvár (currently Cluj-Napoca, Romania), Ógyalla (currently Hurbanovo, Slovakia), Szeged, Temesvár (currently Timisoara, Romania), Ungvár (currently Uzhgorod, Ukraine), Zágráb (currently Zagreb, Croatia). Unfortunately, Word War I stopped this promising progress.

After a number of different modifications, transmutations and unifications, the Hungarian National Seismological Network is now operated by the Kövesligethy Radó Seismological Observatory that is a part of the Geodetic and Geophysical Institute (GGI), Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences (CSFK), Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA).


Present building of the observatory

Present building of the Seismological Observatory.


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