April 2016 – AUSTRIA – A small earthquake hit Lower Austria and Vienna around Monday lunchtime, with residents feeling the impact across different districts in the city. The earthquake measurement website EMSC confirmed an earthquake struck 18 kilometers south-west of Vienna at around 12.28pm. EMSC measured the magnitude around 4.4, although the Austrian Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics said it was 4.1. Residents writing on social media confirmed feeling the earthquake, the centre of which was in Raum Alland in Lower Austria, throughout Vienna, including the 3rd, 9th, 13th, and 19th districts.
“Short but scary”, is how Twitter user Velina Tchakarova described it. Writing on the EMSC website, witnesses described the floor and ceiling “moving some centimeters” and they felt the “chair bounce and desk move.” It is not unknown for Austria to experience small earthquakes, with the most recent one of a similar magnitude thought to have occurred in Lower Austria in 2013. Another similar quake hit Carinthia in January 2015. Geologists warned last December, however, that the Vienna region is at risk of being hit by a strong earthquake at some point in the future.
A seismically active fault system runs deep under the Vienna Basin geological area, which covers Vienna, Lower Austria and parts of Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Because many of the fault lines have been inactive for the last 200 or 300 years they are not thought to be hazardous. However, geologist Dr. Kurt Decker from the University of Vienna told The Local that the risk of a large-scale earthquake occurring in the Vienna region has been underestimated and that scientists must examine historical data more closely.
“There are half a dozen known fault lines under the Vienna Basin which are moving at a very slow rate, but we believe that every 20,000 years or so they are capable of causing an earthquake on the scale of 6.0 or 7.0 on the Richter scale,” he added. –The Local