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Earthquakes in Switzerland

On average two earthquakes are recorded per day in Switzerland and its immediate surrounding areas.

500 to 800 earthquakes occur every year in Switzerland. On average, around ten events each year are strong enough to be felt (ca. magnitude 2.5 or higher).

Compared to the rest of Europe, Switzerland has a moderate earthquake hazard. The earthquake activity is not distributed evenly: more earthquakes are detected in Wallis, Basel, the Rheintal, Mittelbünden, Engadin and Central Switzerland.

A destructive earthquake with a magnitude of 6 or higher can be expected every 50 to 150 years. The last time such an event occurred was in 1946, near Sierre in canton Wallis. Such an earthquake could occur anywhere at any time in Switzerland.

The SED maintains a network of seismic sensors that monitor earthquake activity in Switzerland since 1975. This network is capable of detecting earthquakes that are below the range of human perceptibility. Most earthquakes occurring in Switzerland fall into this category – they do not exceed a magnitude of 2.5. The last earthquake that produced damage occurred in 1991 in the area of Vaz in canton Graubünden.

 

1300-2000

Map of the instrumentally recorded earthquakes between 1975 and 2010 with a minimum magnitude of 2.5 (yellow) and the approximate locations of verified destructive earthquakes since the 13th century (orange). Over these 700 years, at least 10‘000 earthquakes were felt in Switzerland, 12 of which caused large-scale damage (Intensity greater than VIII).