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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?
2017-02-18  14:22 2.1 Sion VS Slightly felt
2017-02-09  09:14 3.6 Trento Probably not felt
2017-01-28  14:30 2.5 Poschiavo GR Slightly felt

Latest Earthquakes

Local Time
Magnitude
Location
2017-02-24 19:39 1.4 Bormio I
2017-02-24 07:49 0.9 CHAMPERY VS
2017-02-24 06:13 0.8 Bormio I
2017-02-24 03:45 0.2 Vaduz FL

Swiss Earthquakes Counter

since 01.01.2017 
000

Recent earthquakes magnitude 4.5 or greater

Time (UTC)
Mag.
Region
2017-02-16 00:19:00 4.8 Turkey
2017-02-15 23:01:22 4.6 Crete, Greece
2017-02-12 13:48:15 5.0 NEAR THE COAST OF WESTERN TURKEY
2017-02-10 12:27:35 4.5 Turkey
2017-02-10 08:55:25 5.0 NEAR THE COAST OF WESTERN TURKEY
2017-02-08 15:08:20 4.7 Romania
2017-02-08 09:52:03 4.6 Romania
2017-02-08 01:38:03 4.9 Turkey
2017-02-07 21:00:54 4.5 Turkey
2017-02-07 05:17:07 4.5 Turkey
2017-02-07 02:24:03 5.1 NEAR THE COAST OF WESTERN TURKEY
2017-02-06 13:46:35 4.6 Caspian Sea
2017-02-06 11:45:01 4.9 Turkey

Recent earthquakes magnitude 6 or greater

UTC Time
Magnitude
Location
2017-02-24 17:28:43 6.9 South of Fiji Islands
2017-02-21 14:09:04 6.5 Southern Bolivia
2017-02-18 12:10:15 6.3 Jujuy Province, Argentina
2017-02-10 14:03:43 6.5 Mindanao, Philippine Islands
2017-02-07 22:03:55 6.3 Southwestern Pakistan
2017-01-22 04:30:22 7.9 Bougainville - Solomon Islands region
2017-01-19 23:04:21 6.5 Bougainville - Solomon Islands region
2017-01-14 06:11:48 6.1 FIJI REGION
NEWS

02/03/2017

Earthquakes in Switzerland in 2016: an overview

In 2016, 31 earthquakes with magnitudes of 2.5 or greater occurred in Switzerland and neighbouring countries, making it an above-average year in terms of the number of felt seismic events there. This fact is also reflected in the overall number of quakes registered by the Swiss Seismological Service at ETH Zurich, since the total of roughly 880 is slightly higher than the average from previous years.

October was a particularly active month for earthquakes in Switzerland. One of them, occurring in Leukerbad in the canton of Valais on 24 October, turned out to be the strongest earthquake of 2016. With a magnitude of 4.1, it was felt in large parts of Switzerland. Quakes as strong as this tend to occur every one to three years. The last comparable seismic event occurred near Sargans in 2013. More clearly felt earthquakes, occurred that same month, namely on 1 October on the border with France, west of Vallorcine (magnitude 3.4), and on 7 October close to Juf, in the canton of Grisons (magnitude 3.9).

Other earthquakes felt by numerous people included one that occurred to the southwest of Saint-Gingolph, on the shore of Lake Geneva, on 22 December (magnitude 3.4) and a weaker, shallow quake (magnitude 2.2) beneath the town centre in Solothurn on 20 August. A few people also felt some of the events associated with the series of serious earthquakes in central Italy, which claimed more than 300 lives. On average, similarly powerful earthquakes hit Switzerland every 50 to 150 years.

At 31, the number of quakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or more is clearly above the long-term average that has applied for the last 41 years. On average, 23 such potentially perceptible earthquakes take place in Switzerland every year. Altogether, some 880 seismic events were recorded in Switzerland and neighbouring countries in 2016. Fluctuations in the long-term average of earthquake frequencies are normal and do not permit any statements about future seismicity in Switzerland. In 2016, as in other years, most seismic activity was recorded in Valais, the canton of Grisons and along the northern edge of the Alps.

Like in previous years, several earthquake swarms were recorded in 2016. One of the most active sequences occurred northeast of Sion, with three clearly felt seismic events in May, June and November. All in all, more than 80 events were registered. The largest quake took place on 24 June, reaching a magnitude of 3.2. An earthquake swarm hit the same area in 2015. Both swarms probably have to do with a fault line on the northern edge of the Rhone Valley. In addition, the Swiss Seismological Service detected a sequence of more than 50 clearly perceptible quakes on the German-Swiss border area, northeast of Thayngen. Earthquake swarms are usually characterised by the absence of a pronounced main quake. The strongest quake often occurs midway through or towards the end of the quake sequence. Earthquake swarms can extend over a period ranging from a few hours to several months or even years.

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Download Map "Earthquakes in Switzerland 2016"

01/22/2017

No Earthquake Near Samnaun: What Triggers False Alerts

No Earthquake Near Samnaun: What Triggers False Alerts

On Sunday, 22 January 2017, based on fully automated evaluations, the Swiss Seismological Service erroneously reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.3 that was supposed to have happened near Samnaun in the canton of Graubünden at 5.48 a.m. During the ensuing routine control by a seismologist, it quickly became clear that the algorithm that is supposed to automatically detect and localize earthquakes had got things a bit muddled up. The seismic waves of a very large and deep earthquake in Papua New Guinea were mistaken for an earthquake in Switzerland. The earthquake notification was quickly corrected, and the media and authorities were notified that it was a false alert. Automation errors of this kind occur every few years in all seismic networks. Unfortunately, these false alerts cannot be completely avoided. That is why we would like to provide the following explanation.

Earthquakes happen without any prior warning, and their waves travel at a speed of a few kilometers per second. A larger local earthquake is, therefore, felt within 30 to 40 seconds throughout Switzerland and creates uncertainty: What was it? How strong was it? Where did the vibrations occur? In order to make this information available in seconds, our computers continuously scan the data from more than 150 seismometers, which record ground movements across Switzerland. As the ground often “shakes” at one station when, for instance, a truck drives past, the algorithm requires the seismometers to detect a significant increase above the signal-to-noise ratio at several stations simultaneously (i.e. within a few seconds). Only then does the computer suspect an earthquake. It subsequently determines its origin by using a kind of cross bearing and its magnitude using the measured amplitude of the signal. This works in 99.9 percent of cases and enables us to provide information within one minute by e-mail, Twitter, and the Internet.

Sometimes, however, things can go wrong: In today’s case, an earthquake in Papua New Guinea confused our computers. At 5.30 a.m., the earth cracked at a depth of more than 130 kilometers along a rupture surface 100 to 150 kilometers long, resulting in a large earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9. As it happened deep in the earth, hopefully no one was injured. The earthquake waves spread across the entire globe, and after around 18 minutes, they also reached Switzerland (watch this short video, only available in German). The first waves hit Switzerland almost vertically from below and were, therefore, recorded at the almost same time at all stations. Our computers correctly detected an earthquake, but determined it originated 60 kilometers below the Engadine. The quality of localization was classified as not particularly good by the software, but it was just good enough to reach the prescribed threshold value for the issuing of the alert. Fortunately, the magnitude was estimated as being far smaller, as the energy of the waves had already weakened considerably on their long journey from Papua New Guinea to Switzerland. Thus, the notification of a Swiss earthquake was sent out into the world – although accompanied by the warning that it was an automatic localization that had not been confirmed by a seismologist.

We could further reduce the risk of such false alerts, but this would have consequences. Stricter automatic quality criteria would be helpful, but it would also increase the risk of missing and not reporting an earthquake (for us, this would be at least as bad as a false alert). We could have all earthquakes verified first by a seismologist, but that would take at least 20 to 30 minutes – a long time in the age of online media. Therefore, all we can do as seismologists is apologize when something goes wrong (and we do indeed apologize again here), continue refining the algorithms of our automated alerts, and, last but not least, share this comforting thought with you: computers cannot do everything better than humans (yet?).

12/22/2016

(Available in DE/FR) Zwei spürbare Erdbeben bei Vouvry (VS)

(Available in DE/FR) Zwei spürbare Erdbeben bei Vouvry (VS)

Am Donnerstag 22. Dezember 2016 um 20:24 Uhr (Lokalzeit) hat sich ca. 10 km nordwestlich von Vouvry (VS) nahe der Erdoberfläche ein leichtes Erdbeben mit einer Magnitude von 2.7 ereignet. Das Epizentrum lag nahe der Grenze zwischen Frankreich und der Schweiz auf französischer Seite. Um 20:50 Uhr des gleichen Tages ereignete sich ein weiteres leichtes Beben an der gleichen Stelle mit einer Magnitude von 3.4.

Die Erschütterungen wurden vor allem entlang des Genfersees zwischen Lausanne und Montreux sowie in der Region Chablais zwischen Saint Gingolph und Vouvry verspürt. Es gingen sowohl von der Süd- als auch der Nordseite des Genfersees Verspürtmeldungen ein. Das zweite Beben wurde aufgrund seiner grösseren Magnitude verbreiteter verspürt. Bei Erdbeben dieser Stärke sind keine Schäden zu erwarten. Im Wallis ereignen sich durchschnittlich etwas mehr als 200 Beben pro Jahr.

12/20/2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree

why are you gently trembling?

An earthquake it can’t be,

as our website does not agree.

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree,

why are you gently trembling?

 

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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.

Learn more

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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