Nerdettes weblog

Just another view of/by

Earthquakes in Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany and all over the world

If you want to see what’s moving and rocking around you, live, then I recommend the famous USGS website:

Or follow “Earthquakes Tsunamis”; @NewEarthquake on Twitter.

With the recent bigger earthquakes near Sumatra, Indonesia and Mexico (11/04/2012) I was wondering if the amount of (larger) earthquakes was increasing, and what chances there are we feel one over here; near Darmstadt; Hesse in Germany.

Edit: We actually are being hit frequently these days by earthquakes near Darmstadt: see below in the list. I deny all responsibilities.

The local earthquakes around Darmstadt, Germany.

To my big surprise there were a lot more earthquakes around than I initially thought.


This is a recent earthquake with Magnitude 2.0, which happened near Grube Messel (an ancient volcano) on the 25th of February near Darmstadt (Kranichstein).

A big recent earthquake occurred on February 14th 2011 near Koblenz, which was even noticed here in the Rhein-Main area.

These earthquakes are caused by the fact that the African Plate that is continuously drifting northwards into the Eurasian Plate, this also causes the Alps to be pushed upwards. They squeeze the plates also around “The Kölner Bucht“.

Image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

However, if you watch the “notable local earthquakes” list; the number of earthquakes seem to be increasing:

* 1356 6.2-6.5M Basel earthquake
* 1756 6.1-6.4M Düren earthquake
* 1951 5.8M Euskirchen earthquake
* 1992 5.3M Roermond earthquake
* 2007 4.2M Andernach earthquake
* 2011 4.4M Koblenz earthquake

And some very local and very recent:

* Earthquake near Darmstadt, March 30th (M3.2),
* Earthquake near Darmstadt, May 17th (M4.1)
* Earthquake near Darmstadt, June 8th 2014 (M3.3)
* Earthquake near Darmstadt, September 19th 2014 (M2.6)
* Earthquake near Darmstadt, October 29th 2014 (M3.6)

If you compare these with the world wide activity from 1900 onwards; something seems to be increasing indeed.

Listed by year; they come out as follows:

* 1906 8.8M Off the Coast of Ecuador

* 1922 8.5M Chile-Argentina Border
* 1923 8.5M Kamchatka

* 1938 8.5M Banda Sea, Indonesia

* 1950 8.6M Assam – Tibet
* 1952 9.0M Kamchatka
* 1957 8.6M Andreanof Islands, Alaska
* 1960 9.5M Chile
* 1963 8.5M Kuril Islands
* 1964 9.2M Prince William Sound, Alaska
* 1965 8.7M Rat Islands, Alaska

* 2004 9.1M West Coast of North Sumatra
* 2005 8.6M Northern Sumatra, Indonesia
* 2007 8.5M Southern Sumatra, Indonesia
* 2010 8.8M Offshore Maule, Chile
* 2011 9.0M East Coast of Honshu, Japan
* 2012 8.6M West Coast of North Sumatra
* 2012 8.2M West Coast of North Sumatra
* 2012 8.0M West of Solomon Islands
* 2013 8.3M Sea of Okhotsk
* 2014 8.2M West Coast of Chile

The interesting thing is that it looks like they “come in waves”; which is understandable as they are all a reaction on tension in the earth crust. They seem to come more frequent and more often these days; but that can also be caused by the difficulty of registration in the early days. Still, I got the impression the earth “is rocking a bit more frequent”

Even in the USA there seems to be enough thoughts around this earthquake-increase for the scientists:
From “SSA 2012 Abstract # 12-137 – Session: The M5.8 Central Virginia and the M5.6 Oklahoma Earthquakes of 2011
A remarkable increase in the rate of M 3 and greater earthquakes is currently in progress in the US mid-continent. The average number of M >= 3 earthquakes/year increased starting in 2001, culminating in a six-fold increase over 20th century levels in 2011. Is this increase natural or manmade?

But as you read into the document (to be released next week, April 18th 2012), they only describe the activity around the USA:

They do come to an interesting conclusion though:
While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly man-made, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production.

My opinion is that it has been like this as long as the plates are moving; sometimes they build up more tension which they then release in waves of several earthquakes. With the increased storage and study of earthquakedata it might be more predictable when the next “wave” will be expected; and maybe even where the earthquake will strike, but there are so many -also humane- additional factors that it will be too difficult to predict precisely.

vs the swarm around the Solomon Islands recently:

Update: I just found this page about “A Massive New Volcano May Be Forming In The Pacific” which does not surprise me at all. Definitely not with the enormous amount of earthquakes (a swarm) around the Solomon islands recently.

And ofcourse another area of interest is the Yellowstone park where the surface has been pushed up by the underlying supervolcano. But that’s a topic for later.




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