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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?
2017-11-22 00:42 2.4 Belleherbe F Probably not felt
2017-11-21 10:22 3.3 ZUG Felt
2017-11-21 00:04 2.4 Innsbruck A Probably not felt
2017-11-19 13:37 4.4 4 km SW Fornovo di Taro (PR) Widely felt
2017-11-17 13:10 3.4 Mont-Cenis F Probably not felt

Latest Earthquakes

Local Time
Magnitude
Location
2017-12-11 03:12 0.5 Muellheim D
2017-12-10 19:57 1.4 Arolla VS
2017-12-10 04:59 1.3 Sion VS
2017-12-08 21:26 1.1 Binn VS

Swiss Earthquakes Counter

since 01.01.2017 
000

Recent earthquakes magnitude 4.5 or greater

Time (UTC)
Mag.
Region
2017-12-08 05:20:41 4.5 Dodecanese Islands, Greece
2017-12-08 01:55:00 4.6 IRAN-IRAQ BORDER REGION
2017-12-07 17:42:50 4.5 Poland
2017-12-06 07:57:38 4.6 IRAN-IRAQ BORDER REGION
2017-12-06 05:53:45 4.7 IRAN-IRAQ BORDER REGION
2017-12-05 15:27:15 4.8 Caspian Sea
2017-12-02 16:40:46 4.8 JAN MAYEN ISLAND REGION
2017-12-01 20:17:12 4.6 WESTERN IRAN
2017-11-28 13:15:44 5.4 NORWEGIAN SEA
2017-11-26 05:47:35 4.5 WESTERN IRAN
2017-11-24 21:49:15 5.1 WESTERN TURKEY
2017-11-24 18:51:39 4.7 Southern Greece
2017-11-22 22:37:36 4.5 Greece

Recent earthquakes magnitude 6 or greater

UTC Time
Magnitude
Location
2017-12-09 15:14:24 6.1 Western Caroline Islands, Micronesia
2017-12-08 09:51:10 6.4 Western Caroline Islands, Micronesia
2017-12-08 02:09:59 6.2 Kermadec Islands, New Zealand
2017-12-08 00:22:54 6.4 Western Caroline Islands, Micronesia
2017-12-03 11:19:06 6.0 Near coast of Ecuador
2017-12-01 02:50:00 6.0 Eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea, region
2017-12-01 02:32:46 6.0 Northern and central Iran
2017-11-30 06:32:50 6.5 Central Mid-Atlantic Ridge
NEWS

2017-11-24

What you need to know about earthquakes and deep geothermal energy

What you need to know about earthquakes and deep geothermal energy

One major challenge for past and future deep geothermal power projects is how to produce a working heat exchanger with sufficient rock permeability without triggering damaging or felt earthquakes as a result. The problems associated with this challenge are varied and complex, such as how to distinguish between natural (tectonic) and man-made (induced) earthquakes. In purely physical terms, there is no difference between these types of quake. A distinction, albeit one that rarely leads to a conclusive classification, can only be drawn between them based on the earthquake's location, time of occurrence, focal mechanism and connection with any human activities.

Just how difficult such a classification can be is currently apparent in South Korea. On 15 November 2017, a shallow earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 occurred near Pohang, a few kilometres away from a geothermal plant currently under construction. Since 2016, the subsurface has been repeatedly stimulated in two boreholes up to 4.3 km deep, with a view to subsequently forcing water through the rock to heat it up. The latest such stimulations took place in August and September 2017 and did not trigger any major earthquakes. Within the framework of Project DESTRESS, the Korean operators and authorities, flanked by international experts, are currently investigating a possible connection between the quake and the human interventions that have occurred.

Such a line of enquiry and the successful strategies (“good practices”) derived from it are dealt with in a scientific report commissioned by the Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich. It has been accomplished as part of GEOBEST-CH, a project supported by EnergieSchweiz, which examines good practices for dealing with potential induced seismicity. The report is intended to provide useful tips, in particular for operators of geothermal power plants and the licensing authorities, on how to gauge and limit the risks of man-made earthquakes.

It starts off with an introduction to natural earthquake activity in Switzerland, some background information on induced seismicity and a summary of the lessons learnt during the failed geothermal projects in St. Gallen and Basel. Building on this, it then contemplates guidelines for the seismic monitoring of geothermal projects and presents recommendations for regulators and field operators on how to estimate seismic activity and the risks and hazards associated with it. The objective is to develop measures that take account of the need to protect people, the environment, goods and buildings as well as considering local geological conditions and plant design.

The Geothermal Risk of Induced seismicity Diagnosis grid (GRID, Trutnevyte & Wiemer, 2017) mentioned in the report is the recommended tool for drawing up such a comprehensive situational analysis for a specific deep geothermal energy project. The resulting recommendations provide for meaningful measures at all phases of the project, including hazard and risk assessments, seismic monitoring, traffic-light systems, the interpretation of reflection seismic data and the involvement of stakeholders and authorities (see also Measures to Control Induced Seismicity). Detailed information on the individual aspects of the recommendations can be found in the linked pages or in the individual chapters of the report. These fundamental data help regulators to impose restrictions and field operators to develop measures aimed at reducing the risk to an acceptable level by reasonable, feasible means.

German, French and Italian versions of the summary of the English report, including its key findings and recommendations, will be published in February 2018.

2017-11-21

[Available in DE] Verspürtes Erdbeben bei Zug

[Available in DE] Verspürtes Erdbeben bei Zug

Am Dienstag, 21. November 2017 ereignete sich um 10:22 Uhr (Lokalzeit) zwischen Zuger- und Ägerisee ein Erdbeben der Stärke 3.3 in einer Tiefe von ca. 32km. Beim Schweizerischen Erdbebendienst (SED) an der ETH Zürich gingen in der ersten Stunde nach dem Beben etwa 300 Meldungen aus der Bevölkerung ein. Sie stammen vorwiegend aus den Regionen nördlich und nordwestlich des Bebens, unter anderem aus den Kantonen Zug, Schwyz, Uri, Nidwalden, Luzern, Zürich und Aargau.

Das letzte etwas stärkere Beben in der Region Zug mit einer Magnitude von 4.2 ereignete sich am 11. Februar 2012 in ca. 35 km Tiefe und war eines der stärksten Beben der letzten Jahre. Knapp 2 Wochen später folgte am 24. Februar 2012 ein Nachbeben mit Magnitude 3.5. Es ist davon auszugehen, dass sich das Beben von heute auf derselben geologischen Störung ereignet hat.

Nach den diesjährigen grösseren Erdbeben auf dem Urnerboden mit einer Magnitude von 4.6 und dem Erdbeben in der Nähe von Château d’Oex (VD) mit einer Magnitude von 4.3, reiht sich das Beben bei Zug in die Liste der bisher stärksten Beben dieses Jahres ein.

Mit Schäden ist bei einem Beben dieser Stärke und in dieser Tiefe nicht zu rechnen.

In den nächsten Stunden und Tagen sind in der Region weitere Beben möglich, die unter Umständen auch verspürt werden können. Beben mit einer ähnlichen oder gar grösseren Magnitude sind zwar unwahrscheinlich, aber nicht auszuschliessen.

2017-11-13

Severe earthquakes in the Iran-Iraq border region and in Costa Rica

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake occurred in the border region between Iran and Iraq, around 32 km south of Halabjah (220km northeast of Baghdad), at 6.18 p.m. (UTC, 9:48 p.m. Iran local time) on Sunday, 12 November. According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake originated at a depth of approximately 23 km. The quake was strongly felt in both countries, as well as their close neighbours. Given the earthquake's magnitude and depth, severe and widespread damage is to be expected.

The earthquake occurred at the compressional boundary between the Arabian and Eurasian plates, where the Arabia plate is moving towards the north with respect to Eurasia at a rate of about 26 mm/yr. The shallow location of the event and the rupture mechanism are consistent with the plate boundary related structures in this region.

The extent of damage is currently difficult to estimate, given the remoteness of the affected area. However, due to the poor local building design, significant damage is expected. Half a day after the event media report already more than 300 fatalities.

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake occurred approximately one hour before the main event about 60 km southeast, which could be interpreted as a foreshock. Such foreshocks are known to sometime precede large events, however many of the large events occur without precursors. That a smaller event was actually a foreshock can only be determined in hindsight. In the meantime, several aftershocks have been reported, including a Magnitude 5.3 aftershock that hit 10 minutes after the mainshock. That event was large enough to further destabilize buildings damaged by the first event. The aftershocks, including strong ones, will continue for several weeks to months, possibly generating more damage.

In the night from Sunday to Monday, 13 November, at 2:28 a.m. (UTC) another large earthquake struck Costa Rica. The event had a magnitude of 6.5 and originated at a depth of approximately 20 km (US Geological Survey). The shaking was widely felt and potential damage to buildings is to be expected in the epicentral region. The earthquake has not triggered a tsunami warning. Costa Rica is located on a convergent plate boundary (subduction zone), where the Cocos Plate slides under the Caribbean Plate at a rate of approximately 9 cm/yr. The relative movement of the two plates generates considerable tension that is repeatedly discharged in the form of strong earthquakes with large damage potential. The most recent severe earthquake occurred in September 2012 with a magnitude of 7.6.

There is no connection between the events in the Iran-Iraq border region and in Costa Rica.

2017-11-03

[Available in DE / FR] Erneutes spürbares Erdbeben in der Region Sion/Sierre

[Available in DE / FR] Erneutes spürbares Erdbeben in der Region Sion/Sierre

Am Freitag, dem 3. November 2017 hat sich um 19:04 Uhr (Lokalzeit) 4 km nordöstlich von Sion (VS) in einer Tiefe von 8 km ein Erdbeben der Magnitude 2.8 ereignet.

Die Erschütterungen waren, wie beim Erdbeben vom 2. November 2017, vor allem im Gebiet zwischen Sion und Sierre für die Bevölkerung spürbar. Das Rhonetal ist aufgrund seiner Bodenbeschaffenheit (weiche Sedimente) bekannt für die deutliche Verstärkung von Erdbebenwellen. Aus diesem Grund sind zahlreiche Verspürtmeldungen von Anwohnern auf der Webseite des Erdbebendienstes eingegangen. Bei einem Erdbeben dieser Stärke sind keine Schäden zu erwarten.

Seit Juni 2015 sind im Wallis von der Bevölkerung grösstenteils unbemerkt zwei Erdbebensequenzen im Abstand von ungefähr 12 km aktiv. Dieses Beben gehört nun zur Sequenz, welche etwa 5 km nordöstlich von Sion aktiv ist, wobei das Beben vom 2. November zur Erdbebensequenz gehört, welche rund 6 km nördlich von Sierre activ ist.

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 500 and 800 earthquakes a year, around 10 of which are powerful enough (with a magnitude of approximately 2.5 or higher) to be felt by the country's inhabitants. 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 times a year on average 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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