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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?
2017-03-20  22:09 3.0 Chamonix F Felt
2017-03-20  01:30 3.3 Chamonix F Felt
2017-03-06  22:57 2.9 Linthal GL Felt
2017-03-06  21:12 4.6 Linthal GL Widely felt
2017-03-04  02:29 2.6 Ravensburg D Probably not felt

Latest Earthquakes

Local Time
Magnitude
Location
2017-03-26 00:21 1.2 Merano I
2017-03-25 17:13 0.9 Linthal GL
2017-03-25 09:09 0.7 Sanetschpass VS
2017-03-25 07:25 2.4 Monte Adamello I

Swiss Earthquakes Counter

since 01.01.2017 
000

Recent earthquakes magnitude 4.5 or greater

Time (UTC)
Mag.
Region
2017-03-26 01:48:41 4.9 ICELAND REGION
2017-03-26 01:07:12 4.9 ICELAND REGION
2017-03-26 00:24:50 4.6 ICELAND REGION
2017-03-24 08:54:25 4.5 Turkey
2017-03-24 04:24:30 4.7 Southern Greece
2017-03-20 14:39:46 4.5 Turkey
2017-03-18 18:15:28 4.5 Cyprus region
2017-03-18 04:30:59 4.6 Greenland Sea
2017-03-10 16:41:12 4.8 NORWEGIAN SEA
2017-03-10 06:43:33 4.5 Pyrenees
2017-03-06 20:12:07 4.6 Linthal GL
2017-03-05 01:46:56 4.7 Northern Algeria
2017-03-03 23:17:00 4.5 Crete, Greece

Recent earthquakes magnitude 6 or greater

UTC Time
Magnitude
Location
2017-03-19 15:43:25 6.0 Bougainville - Solomon Islands region
2017-03-14 02:51:16 6.0 Nicobar Islands, India, region
2017-03-11 18:48:13 6.0 southeast of the Ryukyu Islands, Japan
2017-03-07 10:56:40 6.0 Federated States of Micronesia region
2017-03-05 22:47:53 6.3 New Britain, Papua New Guinea, region
2017-03-04 02:58:20 6.1 Bougainville - Solomon Islands region
2017-02-24 17:28:44 6.9 South of Fiji Islands
2017-02-21 14:09:04 6.5 Southern Bolivia
NEWS

03/20/2017

Two Felt Earthquakes Near Vallorcine (F)

Two earthquakes occurred near Vallorcine (F), close to the Swiss border on 20 March 2017. Both events were widely felt in the epicentral area as well as in the lower Valais between Martigny and Monthey. The first earthquake had a magnitude of 3.3 and happened at 1:31 h. The second earthquake, with a magnitude of 3.0, occurred at 22:09 h. The distance between the epicenters of two events is a few hundred meters. In general, earthquakes of this magnitude do not cause any damage. The region of Vallorcine has seen about a dozen of felt earthquakes since an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.9 on September 8, 2005.

03/06/2017

Summary of the magnitude 4.6 Urnerboden Earthquake

The epicenter of the Magnitude 4.6 (local or Richter magnitude Ml) earthquake of 2017/03/06 21:12 local time is located about 3 km NE of the village of Urnerboden in the border region of cantons Uri, Schwyz, and Glarus. The preliminary focal depth is determined to be about 5 km. The Ml 4.6 earthquake was preceded by several foreshocks with Ml ranging between 0.2 to 2.2. In the first 12 hours after the Ml 4.6 event, the SED recorded about 25 aftershocks with magnitudes between Ml 0.5 and 2.9. Further aftershocks, some of them perceptible, are expected over the coming days. Earthquakes with a similar or even larger magnitude than the current main shock are unlikely, but cannot be excluded.

The shaking from this event was felt by the majority of people across Central Switzerland. The Swiss Seismological Service also received more than 5000 earthquake reports from a region of about 200 km diameter, including Ticino and the cantons of Bern, Aargau, Basel, Zurich and Grisons up to Chur. The high public interest was evident also in the up to 500’000 requests per minute on the SED websites. This high demand led to the SED's web pages partially not being accessible in the first 40 minutes after the event, and after that for some time with delays.

The epicenter is located in the Helvetic nappes. The preliminary focal depth of 5 km indicates a source at the border of the sedimentary cover and the crystalline basement. The moment tensor solution for this earthquake indicates it had a moment magnitude of MW 4.1 with a strike-slip mechanism, with either a NNW-SSE or WSW-ENE striking fault plane, consistent with other events in this region. These mechanisms indicate northwest-southeast oriented compression of the crust in this region of the Helvetic domain. Last night’s earthquake occurred close to the magnitude 4.0 (Ml) Urnerboden earthquake of 5 May 2003. The depth and the focal mechanism of that event are very similar to yesterday’s earthquake and it seems likely that both events are associated with the same fault system.

Generally speaking, tectonic stresses in the Alps are the result of the collision between the European and the African lithospheric plates. However, due to the complex tectonic structure and history of the Alpine collision zone, significant along-strike variations in the tectonic regimes are observed.

The highest acceleration measured by seismic instruments were reported from Linthal (GL) and reached 85 cm/s2. On average, earthquakes of this size happen approximately once every 5 years in Switzerland. The last earthquake with a similarly large magnitude was the Vallorcine (F) (Ml 4.9) event close to the Swiss border near Martigny (VS) on 8 September, 2005. It was strongly felt in the Valais.

On Wednesday 7 March, the SED installed two additional stations at Urnerboden and Bisisthal. These stations will allow characterizing the aftershock sequence and thus the properties of the activated fault in more detail.

03/06/2017

Earthquake widely felt across Central Switzerland

On Monday, 6 March at  21:12 a relatively strong earthquake hit Central Switzerland. The epicenter was close to Mount Ortstock, about 6 km west of Linthal (GL. The magnitude was 4.6 on the Richter scale. The event hypocenter had a depth of around 5 km. Shaking was felt by the majority of people across  Central Switzerland. However, the Swiss Seismological Service also received many earthquake reports from the cantons of Bern, Aargau, Zurich and Graubünden. The high public interest was the reason the SED's web pages were not generally  accessible in the first minutes after the event.

With an earthquake of this size, small, non-structural building damage is possible near the epicenter; however the SED has not received such reports up to now. In the first two hours following the event, about a dozen aftershocks were detected of which one was strong enough to be felt near the epicenter. Further aftershocks, some of them perceptible can  be expected over the coming days. It is unlikely that there will be  earthquakes with a similar or even larger magnitude than the main shock, but this cannot be excluded.

Statistically, earthquakes of this size happen once every few years in Switzerland. The last earthquake with a similarly large magnitude was the  Vallorcine (F) event near the Swiss  on 8 September , 2005. It was strongly felt in the Valais.

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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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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