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Swiss Seismological Service (SED)

The Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich is the federal agency for earthquakes. Its activities are integrated in the federal action plan for earthquake precaution.

Felt Earthquakes in Switzerland

Local Time
Mag.
Location
Felt?
2018-10-12 22:52 2.4 Mulhouse F Probably not felt
2018-10-12 07:40 3.3 Innsbruck A Probably not felt
2018-09-29 08:31 2.6 Thonon-les-Bains F Probably not felt

Latest Earthquakes

Local Time
Magnitude
Location
2018-10-21 07:56 1.6 Lago di Como I
2018-10-20 03:12 1.0 Sion VS
2018-10-19 09:16 0.6 Sion VS
2018-10-19 06:10 0.6 Sion VS

Swiss Earthquakes Counter

since 01.01.2018 
000

Recent earthquakes magnitude 4.5 or greater

Time (UTC)
Mag.
Region
2018-10-18 18:13:07 4.6 NORWEGIAN SEA
2018-10-18 15:14:53 4.5 WESTERN IRAN
2018-10-17 03:16:58 4.9 IRAN-IRAQ BORDER REGION
2018-10-15 10:42:08 4.7 Ukraine/Moldova/SW Russia Region
2018-10-10 09:02:45 4.5 Greece
2018-10-07 14:25:23 4.5 Western Iran
2018-10-06 00:34:20 4.8 2 km S Santa Maria di Licodia (CT)
2018-10-02 15:29:05 4.6 Turkey
2018-10-02 02:42:49 4.9 Northern and central Iran
2018-09-30 13:15:57 4.9 Crete, Greece
2018-09-27 10:21:52 5.2 SOUTHERN GREECE
2018-09-26 02:52:18 4.7 Crete, Greece
2018-09-18 05:04:22 4.5 CRETE, GREECE

Recent earthquakes magnitude 6 or greater

UTC Time
Magnitude
Location
2018-10-16 01:03:43 6.4 Southeast of Loyalty Islands
2018-10-16 00:28:12 6.3 Southeast of Loyalty Islands
2018-10-13 11:10:22 6.7 Northwest of Kuril Islands, Russia
2018-10-10 23:16:02 6.5 Kuril Islands, Russia
2018-10-10 22:00:35 6.2 New Britain, Papua New Guinea, region
2018-10-10 20:48:20 7.0 New Britain, Papua New Guinea, region
2018-10-10 20:45:26 6.1 New Britain, Papua New Guinea, region
2018-10-10 18:44:55 6.0 Bali Sea
NEWS

2018-10-01

Earthquake and Tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Earthquake and Tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia

On 28 September 2018, several strong earthquakes shook the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. The strongest earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.5, triggered a tsunami and, according to knowledge to date, claimed more than a thousand lives.

The earthquake occurred about 80 kilometres north of the provincial capital Palu on the coast at a depth of about 10 km. The quake was triggered by a sudden horizontal movement of rocks along the Palu-Koro fault. The north-south running fault through the Bay of Palu is similar in type to the San Andreas fault in California. Initial analyses indicate that the rock on both sides of the fault have shifted several metres in relation to each other in the area North of the town of Palu.

Horizontal displacements such as those of this earthquake rarely trigger large tsunamis. This usually requires a vertical movement of the seabed. When a block of rock beneath the water surface rises or falls rapidly due to an earthquake, the water column above it is raised or lowered and a tsunami is triggered. The exact cause of the tsunami in the Bay of Palu is not yet known. Possible causes are the pronounced topography of the coastal area and the seabed, whereby horizontal movements could also shift large masses of water, and / or underwater landslides caused by the quake.

After the earthquake, the tsunami waves took about half an hour to reach Palu. This appears long in comparsion to the relatively short distance to the epicentre. The reason for this is the depth of the water; the greater the depth, the faster the waves spread. At a shallow water depth of 200 m, as it is likely to prevail between the epicentre and the city of Palu, the speed of propagation is about 160 km/h. This is much slower than the speed of the seismic waves, and also much slower as if the sea depth was at 4 km, typical in the deep ocean. In this deep case, the tsunami waves would have arrived at Palu in under 10 minutes. In addition, the narrow geometry of the bay north of Palu is very likely to have significantly amplified the height of the tsunami wave.

As always, the sequence of strong quakes has redistributed the tectonic stresses in the region. In the coming days, further, sometimes violent aftershocks at the Palu-Koro fault as well as at neighbouring fault lines are to be expected. Indonesia lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where 90 percent of all earthquakes worldwide occur.

2018-08-23

[Available in DE/FR] Erdbeben am Dent de Morcles

Am Donnerstag, dem 23. August 2018 hat sich um 02:09 Uhr (Lokalzeit) am Dent de Morcles östlich von Evionnaz in einer Tiefe von ungefähr 7 km ein Erdbeben der Magnitude 3.2 ereignet.

Die Erschütterungen waren im Unterwallis, vor allem von Fully und Martigny bis Aigle gut zu spüren. Das Beben wurde aber auch in anderen Ortschaften im Unterwallis verspürt. In den ersten Minuten nach dem Erdbeben gingen beim Schweizerischen Erdbebendienst an der ETH Zürich bereits über 200 Verspürtmeldungen ein. Die Bodenbeschaffenheit im Rhonetal (weiche Sedimente) und die damit verbundene Verstärkung der Erdbebenwellen sind dabei für die verbreitete Wahrnehmung mitverantwortlich. Bei einem Erdbeben dieser Stärke sind keine Schäden zu erwarten.

Die Region um Saxon wurde bereits im Februar dieses Jahres von einem Erdbeben der Magnitude von 2.6 erschüttert. Im Wallis und vor allem in einem Streifen, der parallel der Haupt-Talrichtung von Leukerbad über Derborence Richtung Lac d'Emosson verläuft, ist es in den letzten Jahren immer wieder zu kleineren, spürbaren Erdbeben gekommen. Solche Erschütterungen sind für diese Region nichts Ungewöhnliches, ist das Wallis doch der Kanton mit der höchsten Erdbebenaktivität in der Schweiz.

Earthquake struck the island of Lombok

On 29 July 2018, the Indonesian island Lombok was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 6.4. Several weaker earthquakes followed until an even stronger earthquake of magnitude 6.9 occurred on 5 August 2018. It caused heavy damage to buildings as well as infrastructure and claimed almost 100 lives. The shocks were also felt strongly in Bali and caused several damages. In principle, further possibly strong earthquakes have to be anticipated during the next days to months, and the possibility of an even stronger earthquake in the near future cannot be ruled out. The current earthquakes occured in a shallow depth between 10 and 30 km; therefore, even weaker earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or more might cause damages.

Indonesia sits atop the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, a seismically highly active area that also includes countries such as Japan, the Philippines or New Zealand. Ninety percent of earthquakes worldwide occur along the Ring of Fire; therefore, Indonesia is subject to a high earthquake hazard. Despite the regional differences within the country, earthquakes as strong as the Lombok earthquake can occur anywhere at any given time. Such strong shocks can be expected to occur less frequently in areas that are less at risk, such as Lombok, than in high risk areas such as Sumatra; however, the possibility can never be fully ruled out.

People who would like to travel to Indonesia during the next days or months are recommended to refer to their travel agency or local accommodation for more information on the current situation. Travellers currently in Indonesia should follow the recommendations of the local authorities as well as the most recent developments on the news. You can find general tips on what to do before, during and after an earthquake abroad here.

More information:

USGS Information about 6.9 earthquake

Blog entry by Temblor

2018-07-18

Ready to head off for holiday... to an earthquake country?

Ready to head off for holiday... to an earthquake country?

The summer holidays are here at last. The accommodation is booked, the bags are packed and you're through airport security. What could possibly go wrong now? Many travellers are well prepared for holiday woes in the form of mosquito infestations, pickpockets or tropical heat. They have their mosquito spray to hand, took out insurance before they left and have booked an air-conditioned room. As for earthquakes, few would give them a second thought. Yet an earthquake, though much less common than the problems mentioned above, could seriously sour the holiday mood.

As with anything else, taking a few simple precautions could make all the difference. Before setting off, find out if your destination is in an area particularly prone to earthquakes (see Earthquake zones). Several of our most popular summer destinations, including Italy, Greece and Turkey, are in regions with a much higher earthquake risk than Switzerland. Other favourite destinations such as New Zealand, California and Bali are located along the Ring of Fire, a highly seismically active area where 90% of all earthquakes occur. If you are travelling to one of these areas, it may be worth taking on board the following tips.

As earthquakes occur without warning, it helps to know in advance what you should do if one does happen. The standard recommendation in Switzerland and elsewhere is: seek cover. That might be under a sturdy table or by holding a pillow over your head in bed. Many earthquake injuries are caused by falling objects such as shelf contents or ceiling or wall materials. If you run around in a panic during the quake, you are more likely to be hit by such objects. What's more, even keeping your balance can be difficult during a powerful earthquake, so you'll probably want to cling on to something that offers protection (the Director of the Seismological Service found this out for himself, as you can see in the next episode of Einstein to be broadcast on SRF).

However, as so often, there are exceptions to this rule. If you're near the sea, running inland is a better option due to the possibility of a subsequent tsunami. In Alaska, they have the following rule of thumb: if the quake is strong enough to almost knock you over, run up the nearest hill. Likewise, if you are indoors but very close to an exit, head outside. If you're already outside, stay there and keep away from buildings. Detailed recommendations on what to do can be found here. Essentially, the right action to take during an earthquake very much depends on the circumstances (the type of earthquake, the type of building, where you are, and so on).

This makes it difficult for seismologists to give general recommendations without causing undue anxiety. The most important protection against earthquakes is and will always be appropriate construction. However, judging how earthquake-resistant a building is just by looking at it is hard even for experts, so this is probably not something that you can take into account when choosing accommodation. That said, it's often the case that the newer a building is, the more likely it is to comply with the latest building standards and therefore to be earthquake-resistant. 

Once the tremors are over, heavily damaged buildings should be evacuated. While making your way outside, beware of falling objects such as bricks and tiles or disconnected power lines. Aftershocks, some of them strong, are likely to occur after a major quake, and these may cause further damage. In genaral, always follow the instructions of the local authorities.

Should you wish to take further precautions, this page lists recommendations for things you can do ahead of shorter or longer trips. All the information can also be downloaded as a fact sheet.

Last but not least, don't forget that, while earthquakes are real, the risk of being harmed by one is extremely small, even in seismically active areas. For example, if you're travelling to California, the risk is 1 in 1,000,0000 per year. Driving a car there is much more dangerous, with around a 1 in 11,428 chance of being involved in a serious accident. So the message is: make a few simple preparations and then enjoy your well-deserved holidays!

TOPICS

Earthquake

Help, the Earth Is Shaking!

Help, the Earth Is Shaking!

Earthquakes are inevitable, but the damage they may be expected to cause can be mitigated in relatively simple ways. Find out the recommended behaviour before, during and after a powerful earthquake.

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Knowledge

Earthquake Country Switzerland

Earthquake Country Switzerland

Switzerland experiences between 1'000 and 1'500 earthquakes a year. Swiss citizens actually feel somewhere between 10 and 20 quakes a year, usually those with a magnitude of 2.5 or above. Based on the long-term average, 23 quakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or above occur every year. Find out more about the natural hazards with the greatest damage-causing potential in Switzerland.

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Alerting

Always Informed

Always Informed

If you want to be kept informed at all times, here you will find an overview of the various information services provided by the Swiss Seismological Service (SED).

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Knowledge

Earthquake Hazard

Earthquake Hazard

In Switzerland, earthquakes are the natural hazard with the greatest potential for causing damage. They cannot currently be prevented or reliably predicted. But, thanks to extensive research, much is now known about how often and how intensely the earth could shake at a given location in the future. Consult a variety of different maps using our interactive web tool to find out how likely certain earthquakes are in Switzerland.

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Research & Teaching

Fields of Research

Fields of Research

We are often asked what staff at the SED do when no earthquakes are occurring. The answer is they conduct research in a variety of fields, constituting SED's main scientific activities described in our research field section.

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About Us

Swiss Seismological Service (SED)

Swiss Seismological Service (SED)

The Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich is the federal agency responsible for monitoring earthquakes in Switzerland and its neighboring countries and for assessing Switzerland’s seismic hazard. When an earthquake happens, the SED informs the public, authorities, and the media about the earthquake’s location, magnitude, and possible consequences. The activities of the SED are integrated in the federal action plan for earthquake precaution.

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Earthquakes

Earthquake Monitoring

Earthquake Monitoring

Around 10 to 20 times a year you will hear or read about an earthquake occurring in Switzerland. However, the vast majority of quakes recorded by the SED go unnoticed by the general public because they fall below the threshold of human perception and can only be detected by sensitive measuring devices. The Swiss Seismological Service (SED) operates a network of more than 150 seismic stations across Switzerland.

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Research and Teaching

Products and Software

Products and Software

Go to our Products page for access to seismic data and various apps.

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