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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?
2019-07-05 13:56 1.3 St-Ursanne JU Probably not felt
2019-07-02 11:36 2.8 Courmayeur I Probably not felt

Latest Earthquakes

Local Time
Magnitude
Location
2019-07-22 09:34 1.4 Engelberg OW
2019-07-22 06:33 1.5 Tuttlingen D
2019-07-21 17:26 1.8 Herisau AR
2019-07-21 07:18 0.5 Courmayeur I
2019-07-21 07:13 1.0 Courmayeur I

Swiss Earthquakes Counter

since 01.01.2019 
000

Recent earthquakes magnitude 4.5 or greater

Time (UTC)
Mag.
Region
2019-07-21 14:53:10 4.5 Ionian Sea
2019-07-21 08:24:29 4.5 WESTERN IRAN
2019-07-19 11:13:14 5.3 GREECE
2019-07-14 10:59:18 4.5 Greece
2019-07-14 10:50:13 5.1 GREECE
2019-07-13 15:08:41 4.7 Greece
2019-07-13 09:56:36 5.0 WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN SEA
2019-07-10 22:57:12 4.8 Crete, Greece
2019-07-09 04:47:32 4.5 WESTERN IRAN
2019-07-08 07:26:19 4.7 Western Iran
2019-07-08 07:00:32 5.7 WESTERN IRAN
2019-07-06 14:12:56 4.6 JAN MAYEN ISLAND REGION
2019-07-05 18:41:00 4.7 Poland

Recent earthquakes magnitude 6 or greater

UTC Time
Magnitude
Location
2019-07-15 08:21:35 6.2 New Britain, Papua New Guinea, region
2019-07-14 09:10:50 7.3 Halmahera, Indonesia
2019-07-14 05:39:24 6.6 Western Australia
2019-07-13 00:57:44 6.1 Northwest of Ryukyu Islands, Japan
2019-07-11 17:08:37 6.0 Bougainville - Solomon Islands region
2019-07-07 15:08:40 6.9 Northern Molucca Sea
2019-07-06 03:19:52 7.1 Central California, United States
2019-07-04 17:33:49 6.5 Central California, United States
NEWS

2019-06-12

[Available in DE/FR] Erdbebenland Schweiz: Informationsanlass für Behörden

[Available in DE/FR] Erdbebenland Schweiz: Informationsanlass für Behörden

Was ist bezüglich Erdbeben zu tun? Eine Frage, die sich in Gemeinden und Kantonen immer wieder stellt. Oft gibt es nur wenige Berührungspunkte mit dem Thema Erdbeben, zum Beispiel im Rahmen von Bauvorhaben, Bewilligungsverfahren oder wenn die Behörden definieren, wie sie mit solchen Ereignissen umgehen.

Der Informationsanlass richtet sich an Behördenvertreter, die sich nicht schwerpunktmässig mit Fragestellungen rund um Erdbeben befassen, aber mehr darüber erfahren möchten. Ziel ist es, eine breite Wissensgrundlage zu vermitteln, die bei Entscheidungen in Bezug auf das Erdbebenrisikomanagement hilft. Das detaillierte Programm finden Sie hier.

Der Anlass findet am 23. August 2019 an der ETH Zürich statt. Anmeldung bis 5. August unter folgendem Link: bit.ly/2GSPvLO

2019-06-05

Using seismometers to monitor rapid mass movements

Using seismometers to monitor rapid mass movements

Above the village of Susten in the Canton of Valais, a stream is carving its way through a fascinating geological formation called 'the Illgraben'. Rock masses, both large and small, are constantly coming loose and falling away from the steep slopes of the gorge. Several times a year, mostly after precipitation, this creates a mushy mixture of sliding rocks, mud and water. These mudslides also rip out large blocks of limestone and quartzite and move down the valley at high speed as far as the River Rotten. Usually, no damage is caused near the Illgraben. In other places, in extreme cases mudslides move millions of cubic metres of rock distances of several kilometres. If these mudslides hit transport routes or human settlements, as happened in 2017 with the debris flow at Pizzo Cengalo, for example, the effects can be devastating. Sophisticated measuring systems can help to gain a better understanding of, or even predict, such processes. Researchers from the Swiss Seismological Service (SED), ETH Zurich's Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) are investigating this at the Illgraben site.

Predicting large mass movements is no easy matter. Indications of a potentially threatening event are hard to measure, the underlying physical processes are poorly understood and the affected areas can often only be accessed with difficulty. In remote alpine valleys, it is already quite a challenge to ascertain whether an event has even taken place because the spatiotemporal coverage offered by existing monitoring methods (e.g. satellites or geodetic instruments) is insufficient. Local seismic measurement networks offer a hitherto little-used alternative. Mudslides, rockfalls or rock avalanches trigger ground motion. Depending on the size of events, seismic stations can detect the associated movements from several kilometres away and in rare cases even up to several thousand kilometres away. Locally condensing the seismic network and ensuring fast data transmission can improve the monitoring of vulnerable areas and possibly warn of dangerous mass movements. Since 2017, for research purposes the SED has been running such a network including additional measuring instruments in the Illgraben. The knowledge gained from this should help to monitor and predict mass movements better and more reliably in the future.

Further information: Prof. Dr. Fabian Walter at VAW at ETH Zurich.

2019-05-28

[Available in DE/FR] Beben am Südufer des Genfersees

[Available in DE/FR] Beben am Südufer des Genfersees

Am Dienstag, dem 28. Mai 2019, hat sich um 10:48 Uhr (Lokalzeit) am Südufer des Genfersees, südwestlich von St. Gingolph, westlich von Novel, auf französischem Boden in einer Tiefe von ungefähr 2 km ein Erdbeben der Magnitude 4.2 ereignet.

Die Erschütterungen waren im ganzen Seebecken und im Chablais gut zu spüren. Da sich das Beben relativ nahe der Erdoberfläche ereignet hat, wurde es vor allem im Gebiet des Epizentrums relativ deutlich verspürt. Die Anzahl der Erdbebenmeldungen nahm entsprechend mit der Distanz ab. Leichte Schäden sind bei einem Beben dieser Stärke vereinzelt möglich.

In den vergangenen Jahren haben sich in diesem Gebiet wiederholt oberflächennahe Beben oder Erdbebenschwärme ereignet, von denen die stärksten leicht verspürt wurden. Am 22. Dezember 2016 haben sich zum Beispiel in der Nähe des Ortes Novel zwei Erdbeben der Magnituden 3.0 und 3.4 innerhalb von 26 Minuten ereignet, die ebenfalls im Gebiet des Genfersees und im Rhonetal verspürt wurden. Damals haben sich innerhalb von zwei Wochen 13 weitere Erdbeben mit Magnituden zwischen 1.0 und 2.9 ereignet.

Das heutige Beben war damit das stärkste bisher. Mit Nachbeben ist in den nächsten Tagen und Wochen zu rechnen. Gleich starke oder gar stärkere Beben sind unwahrscheinlich, können aber nicht ausgeschlossen werden.   

Der Erdbebendienst wird in der Region im Laufe des Tages noch zwei weitere Messstationen installieren um die Nachbeben genauer zu beobachten.

2019-05-24

Earthquakes and geothermal energy: lessons from Pohang

Earthquakes and geothermal energy: lessons from Pohang

In November 2017, a magnitude 5.5 earthquake shook the South Korean city of Pohang, injuring over 100 people and causing $300 million worth of damage. Just a short time later, suspicion arose that the quake might have been triggered by a nearby geothermal project. This impression was backed up by two scientific studies, one of which was written by employees of the Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich (see the news article dated 26/04/2018). As a result, the South Korean government set up an international expert commission, whose members include Professor Domenico Giardini from ETH Zurich. This commission's recently published final report confirms that the geothermal project was indeed the cause of that highly destructive earthquake.

The commission examined the tectonic stress conditions, local geology, induced seismicity, drill data and details of the hydraulic stimulations associated with the geothermal project in Pohang, which was intended to construct a heat exchanger 4-5 km down in the crystalline bedrock. A similar petrothermal geothermal energy project was also attempted in Basel in 2006. Projects like this entail pumping fluid into the ground under high pressure. As expected, this triggers numerous minor quakes. Unnoticed by the operators, these injections in Pohang repeatedly set off earthquakes in quite a large previously unknown fault zone. This weakened the apparently tectonically pre-stressed fault line, leading to the magnitude 5.5 earthquake. Now that the causal link has been proved, the expert commission is asking what lessons can be learnt from the occurrence.

Its verdict on the project is far from positive. Indeed, looking back it can pinpoint failings at all stages of the undertaking. Before work began, geological studies had shown that some fractures were critically pre-stressed. Bearing in mind the proximity to a medium-sized city with a major industrial port, this finding should have prompted an adjustment of the project's risk assessment. Then the first hydraulic stimulations began at borehole PX-2. The geological reports state that large quantities of the fluid pumped into PX-2 seeped away. This is unusual, constituting another alarm signal, an indication that the borehole ran through a sizeable interference zone. Locally, the spillage of the injected fluid increased the pressure on the fault zone and already triggered numerous small earthquakes early on. Yet this increased induced seismicity was only analysed after the magnitude 5.5 earthquake.

The commission also looks into the two-month period between the last hydraulic stimulations and the damaging quake. This time lag has repeatedly been interpreted as indicative of no connection between the geothermal project and the earthquake. However, the report invokes findings from other projects which prove that induced seismicity often does not stop when hydraulic stimulations come to an end. The commission recommends involving the respective authorities and all relevant experts in the run-up to future projects, to draw up a comprehensive risk analysis and then keep it constantly updated. Furthermore, a reliable real-time monitoring system has to be set up, the processes and injection strategy must be constantly reviewed and, if need be, corrected, and risk mitigation measures need to be formally noted down and communicated.

Shortly after the earthquake in Pohang, the canton of Jura called for a review of the risk analysis for the planned petrothermal geothermal energy project in Haut-Sorne. The operator, Geo-Energie Suisse, has written an appraisal, which the SED is currently examining on behalf of the canton, taking account of all the known findings from Pohang. The SED is also involved in research work at the Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geoenergies. There, along with other national and international partners, ETH Zurich, is conducting research to ascertain whether geothermal energy can be exploited safely, efficiently and sustainably using any existing technologies or procedures.

 

Science article "Managing injection-induced seismic risk"

Report by the commission (in Korean and English – scroll down and click on link to PDF file)

Science article "The November 2017 Mw 5.5 Pohang earthquake: A possible case of induced seismicity in South Korea"

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 200 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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