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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?
2022-01-04 01:38 3.2 Porrentruy JU Slightly felt
2021-12-30 08:43 2.5 Arolla VS Probably not felt
2021-12-25 15:49 3.5 Porrentruy JU Felt
2021-12-25 00:59 4.1 Porrentruy JU Widely felt

Latest Earthquakes

Local Time
Magnitude
Location
2022-01-20 17:21 1.3 Sanetschpass VS
2022-01-20 03:27 1.2 Rossens VD
2022-01-19 23:46 0.7 BASEL
2022-01-19 19:16 1.5 Arolla VS

Swiss Earthquakes Counter

since 01.01.2022 
000

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

Recent earthquakes magnitude 4.5 or greater

Time (UTC)
Mag.
Region
2022-01-19 06:05:37 4.6 Northern and central Iran
2022-01-18 13:45:17 4.6 Canary Islands, Spain r
2022-01-17 23:28:56 5.0 CENTRAL TURKEY
2022-01-16 22:31:59 4.5 AEGEAN SEA
2022-01-16 12:26:18 4.6 AEGEAN SEA
2022-01-16 11:48:05 5.3 AEGEAN SEA
2022-01-16 04:25:32 4.6 Southern Iran
2022-01-16 02:49:21 4.8 Southern Iran
2022-01-14 21:37:56 4.7 Albania
2022-01-11 17:44:09 4.5 GREECE
2022-01-11 15:14:30 4.7 Greece
2022-01-11 01:07:51 6.5 CYPRUS REGION
2022-01-10 18:29:53 4.5 IRAQ

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

Recent earthquakes magnitude 6 or greater

UTC Time
Magnitude
Location
2022-01-16 12:52:10 6.1 Bougainville - Solomon Islands region
2022-01-14 09:05:43 6.6 SUNDA STRAIT, INDONESIA
2022-01-14 09:05:42 6.6 Sunda Strait, Indonesia
2022-01-11 12:39:31 6.6 Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, United States
2022-01-11 11:35:46 6.8 Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, United States
2022-01-11 01:07:51 6.5 CYPRUS REGION
2022-01-10 23:26:45 6.0 Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
2022-01-10 00:06:30 6.2 South of Kermadec Islands
NEWS

2022-01-18

Waves from Tonga volcanic eruption have already circled Earth twice

The massive submarine eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano in the South Pacific on 15 January 2022 was registered by the seismic stations of the Swiss Seismological Service at ETH Zurich (SED). The volcanic explosion began at 05:14 Swiss time and generated seismic waves equivalent to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. Seismic body waves reached the Swiss seismic network around 20 minutes later, having passed directly through the Earth. Body waves propagate at speeds of 5–10 km/second (36,000 km/h). Another 30 minutes later, seismic surface waves – which travel more slowly – also reached Switzerland. The Swiss network continued to record the Earth 'ringing' in normal mode for more than 12 hours after the surface waves had subsided. This is where the Earth vibrates at characteristic frequencies determined by its internal structure. These vibrations, with a period of approximately 4.5 minutes, were also observed after the eruption of the Philippine volcano Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

Such volcanic explosions also create pressure waves in the atmosphere, as described in this MeteoSwiss blog (in German). Infrasound waves, which have frequencies below the lower limit of human audibility (between approximately 15 Hz and 0.001 Hz), are only slightly attenuated in the atmosphere and can be measured over very long distances. Infrasound travels at a speed of around 1,200 km/h. These waves showed up clearly on the SED's highly sensitive broadband monitoring stations and on SED-operated infrasound sensors from around 20:30 Swiss time, a little over 15 hours after the seismic waves reached Switzerland. The dispersion of these infrasound waves (i.e. the way their propagation velocity depends on their frequency) can also be clearly seen, with low frequencies propagating slightly faster and arriving first, followed by progressively higher frequencies. An initial period of strong signals lasting a good two hours was caused by the waves that reached us directly. Around five hours later, the signals that propagated in the opposite direction can be seen, with significantly smaller amplitudes. Another spike was observed on the morning of 17 January as the waves circled the Earth for a second time. The infrasound signals caused a number of false seismic triggers during automatic data processing at the seismic monitoring stations.

2021-12-25

[available in FR/DE] Earthquake in the Ajoie region

[available in FR/DE] Earthquake in the Ajoie region

Le 25 décembre 2021, à une heure du matin, un tremblement de terre de magnitude 4.1 s’est produit à l’ouest de l’Ajoie, entre Damvant et Réclère, à une profondeur d’environ 6 km. Il a été ressenti largement dans le Jura, et sporadiquement dans le nord-ouest de la Suisse, jusque à Lausanne, Berne, Lucerne et à l’ouest du canton de Zurich. Aucun dégât n’est rapporté jusqu’à présent; d’une manière générale, il ne faut pas s’attendre à de dégâts sérieux pour un séisme d’une telle magnitude.

Depuis la nuit, plusieurs répliques ont été mesurées par le réseau du Service sismologique suisse à l’ETH de Zurich, dont une - avec une magnitude de 3.6 à 15:59 - a été assez forte pour être ressentie par la population locale. D’autres répliques, même perceptibles, ne peuvent être exclues.
La sismicité en Ajoie est relativement basse. Bien que plusieurs petites tremblements de terre y aient été enregistrés dans les décennies passées, celui de Noël est le plus fort depuis plus de 100 ans.

2021-12-22

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Looking back over the past year is always a very personal thing. This year, our mascot Seismorris brings you best wishes for the year ahead and gives you his personal take on the past 12 months.

"In 2021, I was always where the action was: sometimes above ground, sometimes below, in places near and far, by myself or with others – and, once again, most of those meetings took place virtually. Although this opened up new opportunities and allowed me to interact quickly and easily with colleagues from around the globe, I did appreciate my trips in the real world. These took me deep inside the earth's surface several times in 2021, where I got to follow experiments in the BedrettoLab and the Mont Terri rock laboratory. In Iceland, I supported two projects with a seismic measurement campaign, and I travelled several times to Mars to watch the seismometer there at work. I always enjoy meeting people at events such as Scientifica and Future Day, both of which were able to go ahead this year. Looking ahead to next year, I'm particularly excited about the seismic risk model for Switzerland, which the SED is developing in partnership with the Federal Office for the Environment and the Federal Office for Civil Protection. Of course, I also hope there will be no major tremors – even though I've been training hard so that I can run for cover!"


Merry Christmas

Seismorris, Swiss Seismological Service at ETH Zurich

2021-12-22

Swaying mountains

Swaying mountains

Like bridges and tall buildings, large mountains are constantly vibrating, excited by seismic energy form the Earth. An international team of researchers has now been able to measure the resonant swaying of the Matterhorn and make its motion visible using computer simulations.

The Matterhorn appears as an immovable, massive mountain that has towered over the landscape near Zermatt for thousands of years. A study just published in the journal "Earth and Planetary Science Letters" (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117295) now shows that this impression is wrong. An international research team has proven that the Matterhorn is instead constantly in motion, swaying gently back and forth about once every two seconds. This subtle vibration with normally imperceptible amplitudes is stimulated by seismic energy in the Earth originating from the world’s oceans, earthquakes, as well as human activity.

"The movements of the underground cause every object to vibrate, which we fortunately cannot feel, but detect with sensitive measuring instruments," emphasises Donat Fäh from the Swiss Seismological Service at ETH Zurich. These so-called natural frequencies depend primarily on the geometry of the object and its material properties. The phenomenon is also observed in bridges, high-rise buildings, and now even mountains. "We wanted to know whether such resonant vibrations can also be detected on a large mountain like the Matterhorn," says Samuel Weber, who carried out the study during a postdoctoral period at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and is now working at the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF. He emphasizes that the interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers at the Swiss Seismological Service at ETH Zurich, the Institute for Computer Engineering and Communication Networks at ETH Zurich, and the Geohazards Research Group at the University of Utah (USA) was particularly important for success of this project.

High alpine measuring devices

For the study, the scientists installed several seismometers on the Matterhorn, including one directly on the summit at 4,470 meters above sea level and another in the Solvay bivouac, an emergency shelter on the northeast ridge, better known as Hörnligrat. Another measuring station at the foot of the mountain served as a reference. Extensive past experience from Jan Beutel (ETH Zurich / University of Innsbruck) and Samuel Weber installing equipment for measuring rock movements in high mountains made deployment of the measurement network possible. The data are automatically transmitted to the Swiss Seismological Service.

The seismometers recorded all movements of the mountain at high resolution, from which the team could derive the frequency and direction of resonance. The measurements show that the Matterhorn oscillates roughly in a north-south direction at a frequency of 0.42 Hertz, and in an east-west direction at a second, similar frequency. In turn, by speeding up these ambient vibration measurements 80 times, the team was able to make the vibration landscape of the Matterhorn audible to the human ear, translating the resonant frequencies into audible tones.

Amplified vibrations at the summit

Compared to the reference station at the foot of the Matterhorn, measured movements on the summit were up to 14 times stronger in the range of the natural frequency. For most of the team’s data these movements were small, typically in the range of nanometers to micrometers. The increase in ground motion with altitude can be explained by the fact that the summit moves freely while the foot of the mountain is fixed, comparable to a tree swaying in the wind. Such amplification of ground motion on the Matterhorn could also be measured during earthquakes, and the team notes this amplification may have important implications for slope stability in the event of strong seismic shaking. Jeff Moore of the University of Utah, who initiated the study on the Matterhorn, explains: "areas of the mountain experiencing amplified ground motion are likely to be more prone to landslides, rockfall, and rock damage when shaken by a strong earthquake."

Such vibrations are not a peculiarity of the Matterhorn, and the team notes that many mountains are expected to vibrate in a similar manner. Researchers from the Swiss Seismological Service carried out a complementary experiment on the Grosse Mythen as part of the study. This peak in Central Switzerland has a similar shape to the Matterhorn, but is significantly smaller. As expected, the Grosse Mythen vibrates at a frequency around 4 times higher than the Matterhorn, because smaller objects generally vibrate at higher frequencies. The scientists from the University of Utah were then able to simulate resonance of the Matterhorn and Grosse Mythen on the computer making these resonant vibrations visible. Previously, the US scientists have mainly examined smaller objects, such as rock arches in Arches National Park, Utah. "It was exciting to see that our simulation approach also works for a large mountain like the Matterhorn and that the results were confirmed by measurement data," says Jeff Moore.

Samuel Weber, Jan Beutel, Mauro Häusler, Donat Fäh & Jeffrey R. Moore (2021). Spectral amplification of ground motion linked to resonance of large-scale mountain landforms. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, available online 22 December 2021, 11729.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117295
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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