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Home* News and Stories → Ear­th­qua­ke in Storfjord

Ear­th­qua­ke in Storfjord

Many inha­bi­tants of Lon­gye­ar­by­en woke up in the ear­ly night on 20 Febru­a­ry, when an ear­th­qua­ke made houses shake noti­ce­ab­ly at 03.46 am. Dama­ge or inju­ries did not occur. The epi­cent­re was in Storfjord near the sou­the­as­tern coast of Spits­ber­gen, about 120 km away from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, near a geo­lo­gi­cal fault that may have been re-acti­va­ted due to stress cau­sed by move­ments at the midd­le Atlan­tic ridge sys­tem that is divi­ding the bot­tom of the oce­an into two dif­fe­rent tec­to­nic pla­tes in the Fram Strait (bet­ween Spits­ber­gen and Green­land). The ear­th­qua­ke was recor­ded with 6.2 on the Rich­ter sca­le – more than enough to cau­se dama­ge if it had hap­pen­ed on land in a more den­se­ly popu­la­ted area. The event is qui­te excep­tio­nal, as Spits­ber­gen is seis­mo­lo­gi­cal­ly most­ly qui­te calm, as oppo­sed to Ice­land, which is situa­ted direct­ly on top of the midd­le Atlan­tic ridge.

In March 2008, some minor cracks have been found at some buil­dings in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, which are belie­ved to date back to the ear­th­qua­ke. 

The appro­xi­ma­te posi­ti­on of the epi­cent­re is mar­ked with a red dot. Green sym­bols show the acti­ve sett­le­ments.
(© Kar­te Rolf Stan­ge)

Earthquake in Storfjord

For more infor­ma­ti­on, see: Nor­we­gi­an Polar insti­tute

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last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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