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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?
2020-02-03 07:20 2.3 Verbier VS Felt
2020-01-27 23:05 3.5 Albstadt D Felt
2020-01-27 23:05 2.3 Albstadt D Probably not felt
2020-01-25 20:13 3.0 Graechen VS Felt
2020-01-25 20:07 2.4 Realp UR Slightly felt

Latest Earthquakes

Local Time
Magnitude
Location
2020-02-18 16:45 1.8 Chiavenna I
2020-02-18 13:57 1.4 Altdorf UR
2020-02-18 05:07 0.8 Aosta I
2020-02-18 02:31 0.7 BESANCON F

Swiss Earthquakes Counter

since 01.01.2020 
000

Recent earthquakes magnitude 4.5 or greater

Time (UTC)
Mag.
Region
2020-02-18 16:09:22 5.0 WESTERN TURKEY
2020-02-18 16:08:08 4.9 Jordan/Syria Region
2020-02-17 14:20:25 4.7 Azores-Cape St. Vincent Ridge
2020-02-17 11:42:16 4.5 Turkey
2020-02-16 18:02:15 4.7 Turkey-Iran border region
2020-02-15 13:49:46 4.6 Caspian Sea
2020-02-14 16:02:16 4.8 Crete, Greece
2020-02-10 22:46:50 5.0 Dodecanese Islands, Greece
2020-02-07 03:11:46 4.7 Crete, Greece
2020-02-07 02:24:02 4.5 CRETE, GREECE
2020-02-06 09:24:14 5.0 GREECE
2020-02-04 17:55:24 4.9 Turkey
2020-02-04 16:47:10 4.5 Turkey

Recent earthquakes magnitude 6 or greater

UTC Time
Magnitude
Location
2020-02-13 10:33:44 7.0 Kuril Islands, Russia
2020-02-09 06:04:29 6.2 New Britain, Papua New Guinea, region
2020-02-08 14:32:57 6.1 South Sandwich Islands region
2020-02-06 13:40:09 6.0 Mindanao, Philippine Islands
2020-02-05 18:12:37 6.2 Jawa, Indonesia
2020-01-29 13:49:50 6.0 Bougainville - Solomon Islands region
2020-01-28 21:55:16 6.1 North of Honduras
2020-01-28 19:10:24 7.7 Cuba region
NEWS

2020-02-17

LabQuake: taking lab scale studies of earthquakes to the next level

LabQuake: taking lab scale studies of earthquakes to the next level

In the beginning of February, the Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich received a very special delivery: An 11-ton and 2.4 x 2.5 x 1 meters machine that can induce small earthquakes in palm-sized rock samples under conditions that are representative for the Earth’s crust in 4–8 km depth. This apparatus is called LabQuake and has been installed in the Rock Physics and Mechanics Laboratory under the responsibility of Dr. Claudio Madonna. LabQuake will enable a new research direction for the SED – Laboratory Seismology – aimed at gaining a better understanding of earthquake physics, for example in the context of induced earthquakes triggered by deep geothermal stimulations. Dr. Paul Selvadurai is leading the newly created Laboratory Seismology research group.

To develop a better understanding of nature, scientist often examine complex problems in the laboratory where they control the environment, repeat experiments and place dense arrays of sensors. With LabQuake, scientists induce tens of thousands of very small earthquakes – so-called nano-seismic events that produce the same order of energy as an insect flapping its wings once – in rock samples and observe how they form, what controls them, and why they cease. To this end, LabQuake is equipped with various sensors, measuring in great detail the evolution of nano-seismicity, strain and pore-pressure within the rock sample.

Unique in the world

LabQuake exposes rock samples of a maximum size of 7.6 cm to conditions at which deep geothermal energy plants operate: temperatures of up to 170° Celsius and a confining pressure of 170 MPa, which corresponds approximately to 1678 atmospheres or a 17.3 km high water column. The maximum force that the scientists can apply to the rock samples equals to the weight of 125 mid-size SUVs (about 2500 kN).

One of the first applications of LabQuake will be to repeat experiments on rock samples collected in underground research labs. LabQuake ideally supplements experiments at the deca-meter scale performed in the Grimsel In-situ Stimulation and Circulation (ISC) project. Scientists test hypotheses from this project and downscale them to LabQuake. Afterwards, they upscale the new findings and apply them to field scale experiments that are conducted within the Bedretto Laboratory for Geoenergies. Hence, LabQuake bridges the gap between projects at different scales and contributes to improve their accuracy and their performance.

The finances for LabQuake amount to roughly 1.2 million Swiss Francs and were secured through the start-up fund of the Professorship Wiemer, with contributions from the SNF R-equipment programme, the ETH equipment programme and the department of Earth Sciences.

To see how LabQuake was delivered to the SED, watch the time-lapse video here.

2020-01-25

[Available in DE / FR] Erdbeben im Turtmanntal (VS)

[Available in DE / FR] Erdbeben im Turtmanntal (VS)

Am Samstag, den 25. Januar 2020, ereignete sich um 20:13 Uhr (Ortszeit) ein Erdbeben der Magnitude 3.0 in einer Tiefe von ca. 4 km unterhalb des Turmanntals (VS) zwischen dem Val d’Anniviers und dem Mattertal.

Das Erdbeben wurde weiträumig verspürt, insbesondere im Rhonetal und Mattertal. Beim SED gingen in der Stunde nach dem Beben über 100 Verspürtmeldungen ein. Bei einem Erdbeben dieser Stärke sind keine Schäden zu erwarten.

Kurz zuvor, um 20:07 (Ortszeit), ereignete sich westlich von Realp (UR) ein Beben mit einer Magnitude von 2.4 bei einer Tiefe von rund 9 km, welches jedoch kaum verspürt wurde. Zwischen diesen beiden Beben gibt es keinen direkten Zusammenhang.

2020-01-14

Earthquakes in Switzerland in 2019

Last year, twice as many earthquakes occurred in Switzerland and in neighbouring countries compared to the long-term average. For nearly 50 of the total of 1,670 recorded earthquakes, the Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich received five or more felt reports. Most of the quakes can be attributed to five active earthquake sequences that shaped seismic activity in 2019. One of them was in the canton of Valais, in the area between Anzère and the Sanetsch Pass. The other four occurred just over the Swiss border, at Courmayeur (Italy), Novel (France), Konstanz (Germany) and Chamonix (France).

In Switzerland, earthquakes often occur in sequences referred to as 'earthquake swarms', i.e. clusters of tremors occurring over time at one, specific location. An unusual feature of last year's seismic activity was the number of highly active earthquake sequences leading to a never previously recorded amount of events since modern seismic monitoring began in the 1970s. This also resulted in more felt earthquakes than usual. As a rule, quakes felt by humans have usually a magnitude of 2.5 or more. The last time a similar cluster of felt quakes occurred was back in 1964, when Sarnen, in the canton of Obwalden, experienced a distinct sequence of earthquakes over a period of several months, with magnitudes of up to 5.3. Although such a high level of earthquake activity as that experienced in 2019 is rare, it is neither unexpected, nor a sign of an increased seismic hazard over the months and years to come.

An earthquake swarm comprising 16 quakes in the canton of Valais prompted some 2,000 reports by members of the public who had felt them, the highest level of public attention gained all year. During the first half of November, more than 300 quakes occurred north of Sion, between Anzère and the Sanetsch Pass. The two largest events had a magnitude of 3.3. Initial analyses suggest that during this sequence several simultaneously activated faults influenced each other. By contrast, the seismic activity on the Bodanrück peninsula near Konstanz (Germany) appears to have been associated with a single activated structure in the geological underground. All the quakes there share a similar rupture mechanism. This swarm, comprising a total of seven felt earthquakes, indicates a seismically active fault structure in the Hegau-Bodensee region.

The largest earthquake in 2019, with a magnitude of 4.2, occurred at the end of May as part of the earthquake swarm near Novel (France). The SED received 600 felt reports for this event alone. The second strongest quake, with a magnitude of 3.7, occurred in connection with the swarm near Konstanz (Germany). The largest cluster of events in 2019 (410 quakes in all) was associated with the long-standing active sequence near Courmayeur (Italy) in the area of the Mont Blanc massif. 

The overall total of 1,670 recorded earthquakes is a new record. But this high number is not only due to the high level of earthquake activity in the past year, but can also be attributed to the steady densification and modernisation of the seismic network. For seismologists, it is helpful for more earthquakes to be recorded, because such measurements enable them to produce an ever more detailed picture of the Alps' geological underground and seismotectonics. Among other things, this can help to improve the basis for future seismic hazard and risk assessments.

Download press release (PDF)

Download map (PDF)

2019-12-18

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

One memorable event of the past year was undoubtedly the earthquake swarm that occurred north of Sion in Valais in November. So that was the inspiration for this year's Christmas card. The baubles on the Christmas tree represent the numerous quakes of the swarm, and the mountain range behind it represents the cumulative number of tremors. Click on the impage for a detailed view.

The Sion earthquake swarm took place in a region historically known for its seismic activity and where numerous small and occasionally larger quakes can also be expected in the future. There is no way of predicting exactly how seismic activity will develop there, but analysing the extensive data provided by this earthquake swarm is helping us gain a clearer understanding of earthquake activity in the area.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and instructive 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 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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