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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 mitigation.

Latest Earthquakes Switzerland

Felt Earthquakes in Switzerland

Local Time
Mag.
Location
Felt?
2021-11-17 08:54 3.0 Lago di Garda I Probably not felt
2021-11-16 18:27 2.3 Thun BE Probably not felt
2021-11-06 18:49 2.3 NEUCHATEL Felt
2021-11-01 23:15 3.1 Valdahon F Slightly felt
2021-11-01 21:13 2.8 Sanetschpass VS Widely felt

Latest Earthquakes

Local Time
Magnitude
Location
2021-11-27 04:58 1.0 Steckborn TG
2021-11-26 22:35 1.2 Roveredo GR
2021-11-26 22:30 1.1 Graechen VS
2021-11-26 05:16 0.2 Sion VS

Swiss Earthquakes Counter

since 01.01.2021 
000

Earthquake Map of Europe, last 90 days, Mag. 4.5+

Recent earthquakes magnitude 4.5 or greater

Time (UTC)
Mag.
Region
2021-11-22 08:31:25 4.5 EASTERN TURKEY
2021-11-20 12:46:11 5.1 AZERBAIJAN
2021-11-19 12:40:53 5.1 EASTERN TURKEY
2021-11-17 12:40:16 5.0 WESTERN TURKEY
2021-11-17 12:33:52 4.6 CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION
2021-11-12 15:08:27 4.6 Albania
2021-11-12 09:19:15 4.8 Turkey
2021-11-11 13:21:41 5.1 ICELAND
2021-11-08 17:43:21 5.1 Turkey
2021-10-29 06:10:34 4.7 Albania
2021-10-26 16:25:34 4.7 CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION
2021-10-21 09:38:38 4.7 Crete, Greece
2021-10-21 08:44:48 4.5 Crete, Greece

Earthquake Map of the world, last 90 days, Mag. >= 5.5

Recent earthquakes magnitude 6 or greater

UTC Time
Magnitude
Location
2021-11-26 06:03:17 6.2 West of Galapagos Islan
2021-11-25 23:45:41 6.2 Myanmar-India border region
2021-11-25 12:04:10 6.0 Santa Cruz Islands
2021-11-18 14:08:05 6.2 New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, region
2021-11-15 04:23:30 6.0 South Indian Ocean
2021-11-14 12:08:38 6.3 Southern Iran
2021-11-14 12:07:03 6.0 Southern Iran
2021-11-10 17:46:40 6.0 Irian Jaya, Indonesia, region
NEWS

2021-11-23

Using ambient noise to uncover three billion years of Mars's past

Using ambient noise to uncover three billion years of Mars's past

There are two ways to find out what lies deep beneath our feet: you can either drill a hole, or you can use seismic waves to create an image of the subsurface. In recent decades, seismologists have developed and improved techniques that use ambient noise to map structures in the near-surface layers down to a depth of several hundred metres. Using technologies tested on Earth, seismologists have now mapped structures on another planet for the very first time. These analyses provided a glimpse into three billion years of Mars's past, as detailed in a study recently published in Nature Communications.

Since NASA's InSight mission landed on Mars in November 2018 and installed a seismometer, the Marsquake Service, led by ETH Zurich and involving the Swiss Seismological Service (SED), has been regularly analysing the recorded seismic data. In addition to identifying numerous marsquakes, researchers used these data to make statements about the structure of the planet's interior. They built a profile of the planet's crust, mantle and core but could not yet reveal much about the near-surface structures. However, shallow subsurface is vital to understanding Mars's geological history.

Rather than using marsquake signals to look into the subsurface, the new study utilises the ambient noise recorded at times without marsquakes. On Earth, such noise is generated by ocean waves, wind and human activity. Over the past few decades, the SED has developed methods to analyse ambient noise. These methods are used to define the structure of the local geology and to determine whether the local subsurface tends to attenuate or amplify seismic waves. This information is crucial for determining a site's earthquake hazard and analysing unstable landslide zones on mountains or in lakes.

On Mars, ambient noise is triggered by the wind, which generates seismic waves when interacting with the planet's surface. Based on analyses of this ambient noise, researchers can now image for the first time the shallow subsurface of Mars and study its geological history at depths ranging from a few dozens to two hundred metres. In contrast to Earth, Mars has never been home to any active plate tectonics. The planet has been shaped by phases of active volcanism that covered large areas with basaltic lava plateaus. The new analyses provide now a detailed image of the subsurface at the InSight landing site and show a top layer of three meters sand (regolith) and loose rock about 20 metres thick that has been fissured by thousands of meteorite impacts. Below are layers of lava flows that covered the planet between 1.7 and 3.6 billion years ago. These lava layers are divided by sediments lying at around 30 to 75 metres deep. The seismic image of the layer-cake geological stratification allows researchers to trace, for the very first time, the most important geological events that have occurred at the InSight landing site on Mars over the last three billion years.

When humans land on Mars one day, they need to know what lies under their feet. The question of whether these near-surface layers contain water is, for example, particularly interesting. The results of this latest study demonstrate that established techniques to investigate Earth are helping to answer such questions on Mars.

Hobiger, M., Hallo, M., Schmelzbach, C. et al. The shallow structure of Mars at the InSight landing site from inversion of ambient vibrations. Nat Commun 12, 6756 (2021).
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26957-7

2021-11-04

Research in Swiss rock laboratories

Rock laboratories located deep underground, several hundred metres below the earth's surface, are key research facilities for geoscientists around the world, allowing them to observe geological and physical processes at close range under controlled and reproducible conditions and in great detail. The Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich also makes use of these laboratories for many of its scientific activities. To mark 25 years of research at the Mont Terri rock laboratory in the canton of Jura, we want to shine the spotlight on this work.

The SED, as well as other research groups within the ETH Zurich Department of Earth Sciences, is a long-standing partner of the Mont Terri rock laboratory, which has grown from a basic research facility in a side tunnel of the motorway tunnel between Saint-Ursanne and Courgenay into an internationally recognised institution. While research into the storage of radioactive waste was initially the laboratory's primary focus, in recent years work at the facility has increasingly been centred around the underground storage of CO2. The SED has also been active in this field for several years as part of ELEGANCY, a research project funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the EU intended to investigate whether CO2 extracted from industrial production (from waste incineration plants or the atmosphere, for instance) can be captured and safely stored deep underground permanently, whether in Switzerland or elsewhere. Several such carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects have already been rolled out around the world. One of the challenges here lies in ensuring that CO2 does not slowly migrate to the earth's surface through fault zones (fracture zones deep underground) in the caprock and thus re-enter the atmosphere. To prevent this from occurring, we need a better understanding of the physical and chemical processes that influence whether and how CO2 could escape through fault zones. We also need to look into whether the injected CO2 could trigger microquakes. 

To this end, researchers from the SED and partner institutions injected several litres of CO2-enriched saltwater into a fault zone in the Opalinus Clay over a period of several months at varying pressures, using geophysical and geochemical measurement sensors to monitor exactly what was happening in the rock. In principle, Opalinus Clay is an ideal caprock for a CO2 storage facility because it is extremely impermeable to water. Until now, however, it was unclear whether CO2 could migrate through fault zones in the clay. Initial results of the research conducted at Mont Terri show that the CO2 injected near the natural fault zone rises as expected. However, rather than just taking the path of least resistance, i.e. along the fault, it also spreads in the surrounding area in a complex pattern, mixing with the CO2 already present in the fault zone. As such, though CO2 does move towards the earth's surface, it does so very slowly. In addition, the clay swells as soon as it comes into contact with the CO2-saltwater mixture. This causes any cracks to close again, so there are no ways for CO2 to rise. We can therefore assume that Opalinus Clay is a very efficient caprock and that no CO2 would escape from the reservoir for thousands of years. In the medium term, CO2 becomes part of the rock or is mineralised and is then permanently bound. The research findings are currently being prepared for scientific publication. Mont Terri's research thus contributes to achieving the UN climate goals, in which negative emissions using CCS play an important role. 

ETH Zurich also operates a rock laboratory in a tunnel deep underground, though this lab focuses on a slightly different field. The BedrettoLab is a research facility located about 1.5 kilometres below the earth's surface and in the middle of a 5.2-kilometre-long tunnel connecting Ticino with the Furka railway tunnel. The lab is home to a number of teams of scientists conducting experimental research, more specifically with a view to developing new methods for creating an efficient heat exchanger deep underground without triggering major perceptible or damaging earthquakes. The researchers also want to intentionally trigger very weak earthquakes with magnitudes of 0 to 1, which cannot be felt by humans, so that they can observe the approximately 10- to 30-metre-long fracture process from a few metres away. These experiments produce new scientific findings for geothermal energy and earthquake physics, as well as new techniques and sensors that can be used in this field. The SED is one of the BedrettoLab's key research partners and is responsible for the seismic monitoring of all activities. 

Even before the BedrettoLab opened its doors, the SED was collecting initial, vital data on the connection between geothermal energy and induced earthquakes at another rock laboratory in Switzerland, the Grimsel Test Site. Though on a somewhat smaller scale than in the Bedretto Valley, researchers investigated the physics of induced earthquakes, i.e. quakes stimulated by deep geothermal power projects, for example. The research in rock laboratories is supplemented by small-scale experiments with rock samples performed in the Rock Physics and Mechanics Laboratory at ETH Zurich, where researchers can control the environment better than directly in the rock. In order to advance research, research laboratories – whether in the rock deep below the earth's surface or in ETH's buildings – are key to enabling the scientific community to get to grips with the complex processes under way in the bowels of the earth. 

2021-11-02

[Available in DE/FR] Zwei spürbare Erdbeben im Wallis und im französischen Jura

Der Schweizerische Erdbebendienst hat am Abend des 1. November 2021 zwei Erdbeben mit Magnituden von 2.8 und 3.1 registriert. Das erste Beben, mit Magnitude 2.8, ereignete sich um 21.13 Uhr (Lokalzeit) ca. 10 km nördlich von Sion (VS), in einer Tiefe von 5 km. Es wurde in Teilen des Wallis und des Kantons Freiburg deutlich verspürt, aus dem Rhonetal bei Sion gingen über 100 Verspürtmeldungen ein. Das zweite Beben, mit Magnitude 3.1, ereignete sich um 23.15 Uhr (Lokalzeit) 15 km nordöstlich von Le Locle im französischen Jura in einer Tiefe von 14 km. Dieses Beben wurde nur schwach verspürt. Die beiden Beben haben sich in seismotektonisch ganz verschiedenen Regionen ereignet und liegen etwa 120 km voneinander entfernt. Ein Zusammenhang zwischen den Ereignissen kann daher trotz der zeitlichen Nähe ausgeschlossen werden.

Schäden sind bei Beben dieser Stärke nicht zu erwarten. Falls Sie eines der Beben gespürt haben, können Sie Ihre Beobachtungen unter  www.seismo.ethz.ch/earthquakes/did-you-feel-an-earthquake melden.

Spürbare Beben sind im Jura vergleichsweise selten. Im Wallis hingegen werden im langjährigen Mittel ungefähr fünf Beben pro Jahr von der Bevölkerung gespürt. Schadensreiche Beben können grundsätzlich in beiden Regionen jederzeit vorkommen. Sie sind jedoch auch im Wallis, der Region mit der höchsten Erdbebengefährdung in der Schweiz, eher selten. Mit einem starken Beben mit einer Magnitude von 6 oder mehr ist etwa alle 50 bis 150 Jahre zu rechnen. Zuletzt ereigneten sich im Jahr 1946 bei Sierre (VS) ein Beben mit einer Magnitude von 5.8. Wo genau das nächste grössere oder kleinere Beben auftritt, lässt sich nicht vorhersagen. 

2021-10-15

Water feature dances to the rhythm of seismic waves

Once used to supply water, fountains today enliven and brighten both public and private spaces. In 'Waves - Dive in!', the new special exhibition from focusTerra, a fountain powered by 12 spherical jets mirrors the dynamics of seismic waves as an artistic expression of their power. Visitors can even pick the fountain's choreography.

Options include real-time signals from the seismic station on the Zürichberg and the focusTerra exhibition, as well as signals from Mars provided by NASA's InSight mission, the 4.6-magnitude earthquake occurring near Linthal in the canton of Glarus in 2017, and the major earthquake that hit Tohoku in Japan in 2011 at a magnitude of 9.1.

An algorithm translates the various seismic signals to determine the shape and size of the water arcs. The jets are arranged in four groups of three and can propel the water to heights of over 2.5 metres. One jet in each group produces a spray of water representing either the acceleration, speed or path (displacement) of the recorded ground motion. These three parameters are also fundamental for analysing seismological data. 

A large version of this water feature can be admired at Zurich's Seebad Enge resort, where the Aquaretum fountain also displays real-time signals from the Zürichberg station. The fountain usually shows how the waves of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean or the Baltic Sea are behaving. The seismic station on the Zürichberg continuously records the vibrations of the ocean waves and instantly transmits these signals to the fountain's control system. Roughly once a week, the dynamics of the water feature briefly change whenever a major earthquake occurs somewhere in the world whose vibrations shake Zurich's geological underground. With a bit of luck, you might even see smaller-scale Swiss earthquakes on the fountain at Lake Zurich and its little sibling at the focusTerra exhibition.

focusTerra's special exhibition 'Waves - Dive in!' will run until 5 March 2023.

More information is available here.

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 mitigation.

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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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