Poland’s earthquake zones

Panic! Run for your lives! Man the lifeboats, inflate the escape slides, and adopt the brace position… We’re living in an earthquake zone!

I kid you not, consider these facts:

Earthquakes in California in the last two weeks: None
Earthquakes in Poland in the last two weeks: 17!!

I predict an awful lot of people are currently scratching their heads and muttering something along the lines of “He’s really lost it this time… poor chap… probably gone stark staring mad from the endless rain…”

Not a bit of it, it’s all true I tell you. There are two earthquake hot spots in Poland, one centered on the town of Głogów in Lower Silesia and a smaller patch around Katowice. There are dozens of earthquakes in both these areas every year, with the Głogów region being the more active by a good fifty percent.

Poland’s earthquake hot spots


Each red dot marks the epicenter of an earthquake that occurred in the past 12 months (source: European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre [EMSC])

“But hang on” you’re saying “aren’t these just little tiny tremors caused by people dropping televisions from 16th floor balconies rather than proper, full-on, tall-buildings-collapsing and people-running-in-terror kind of stuff?” Well, yes and no.

It’s true that a lot of these are in the range of 2 to 3.5 magnitude, which ranges between a slight lurch of the floor that could be mistaken for the effects of too many piwos the night before and rattling tea cups. But a surprising number are of magnitude 4 or above, which you would definitely notice, it’s not going to bring the house down, but you’d definitely look up from your newspaper with a puzzled expression on your face. Looking deeper into the United States Geological Survey (USGS) data for the area I quickly came across:

August 6 1983: Magnitude 5.8
March 25, 1989: Magnitude 5.3
October 28, 1989: Magnitude 5.1
December 31, 1999: Magnitude 5.4 (for millennial doom mongers)
February 20, 2002: Magnitude 5.0

Not to mention at least a hundred quakes of magnitude 4 to 4.9 between 1980 and the present.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake, such as the one that occurred in 1983, is not the kind of thing that goes unnoticed, especially if you happen to be living near the epicenter.

Głogów: Earthquake hellhole of southern Poland


Red dots are EMSC-recorded events from the past 12 months, yellow dots are historical USGS-recorded events of magnitude 4 or above

I don’t know about you, but that looks like a weird pattern to me. In between dozing off and constructing makeshift sundials in geology lessons I seem to remember something about fault lines and Rings of Fire and all that jazz. These just look like isolated patches.

I have two theories:

Theory 1: The anti-missile shield is already under construction in caverns deep beneath southern Poland. When Mr Armani Dinner Jacket finally launches his missiles two giant robotic arms will emerge from the ground and swat them out of the air with equally giant ping pong bats. Living in Głogów or Katowice at this time will not be a good thing, but when has it ever been.

Theory 2: The Chinese have secretly burrowed through the Earth and are extracting Poland’s coal from underneath. They will then use this coal to add to their already impressive smog project, which is in fact a cunning oriental version of the missile shield. Living in Głogów or Katowice is not improved by this either.

I just looked up the recent data and there have been three earthquakes in Poland in the last 48 hours, one of them magnitude 4.6. The Big One is surely just around the corner…


Additional Information (for those who want to check up on me)

European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre homepage

Google Earth files for viewing recent seismic event locations (pretty cool however you look at it)

Historical seismicity in Poland (EMSC data; 1964–2008)

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16 thoughts on “Poland’s earthquake zones

  1. darthsida says:

    I have to write quickly, before the cracks of doom open under me:

    “a slight lurch of the floor that could be mistaken for the effects of too many piwos the night before and rattling tea cups” — Piwos, really? The folk of the coal-mining Silesia (Katowice-abouts) can often wonder: did we just feel an earthquake — or was it a mining quake? Or both?

    Btw, could rattling tea cups be a definite hint? Last time my tea cups rattled was when thunder stole my lighting, tv, phone and other amenities.

  2. island1 says:

    Darth: What’s a mining quake? Are there such things?

  3. Ai says:

    nay! we’re likely located in the epicenter..i lived near katowice. There were times i felt like the whole earth is shaking and then my friends told me ‘get used to it, the earth here in our area really shakes from time to time coz of the coal mining. And i was like ‘what?’ oh nuh!’ i told hubby i am afraid that when i woke up one day imight be on the pit. that the whole house might be divided into two. Exactly, it is obvious here in our area. Like houses here are braced due to shaking of the ground from time to time. And that some houses is slightly slanting, some parts are depleting. hopei could take some pics…

  4. island1 says:

    Ai: Wow, I had no idea it was so obvious in your area. Do take some pictures and put them up on your blog (and I’ll ask permission if I can borrow them to add to this post).

  5. Ai says:

    alright, i’ll try to get some soon.

  6. darthsida says:

    I don’t know whether “mining quake” is any scientific name but the idea is generally the one found down under.

    Mining companies would / will have special funds to cover damages to structures. Given capitalist paradigms, I think they (the companies) would be happy to blame everything on standard Californian-like seismic force majeure. Anyway, there used to be a riverlet in front of where I live — and now it’s no more there.

  7. Logrusmaster says:

    OMG,I live in a hellhole?!
    Greetings from Głogów.

  8. island1 says:

    Logrusmaster: Excellent, I had hoped we would hear from a Głogów resident! What’s it like down there? Do you notice the earthquakes? Do you all walk around with hard hats on? Did you already know you lived in Poland’s quake central?

  9. island1 says:

    Darth: I google-found the same thing shortly after you mentioned it – I had never heard of such a thing. Very interesting.

  10. Polish-guest says:


    the whole area around katowice looks like a sponge under the ground. There are big holes and from time to time the holes collapse and this causes the so called “tąpnięcia” “earth tremors”


  11. anglopole says:

    It looks like I did well emigrating from Poland! BUT nowhere seems to be safe…. a few months ago there was an earthquake here in Bedfordshire!



  12. […] Polandianaccounts for Polish earhquake zones and points to the fact that Poland in the last two weeks has had 17 earthquakes, whereas California none. Posted by Vilhelm Konnander Share This […]

  13. scatts says:

    Amazing. I just experienced a quake here in Warsaw!

    Oh no, as you were, just the aftershock of last night’s curry. ;-)

  14. luzak says:

    Explanation for a “Glogow region” should be quite simple – activity of a KGHM copper-ore mining company.


    About earthquakes: indeed, some of theme were strong, with all this scarry effects like objects falling from shelves, shaking buildings and furnitures etc. Especially in the past. In present this phenomenon is rare because of advanced production methods and depth of excavation levels.

    Greetings from Lubin (40km from Glogow)

  15. clondike says:

    Have you heard of earthquake near Suwałki (North Poland) – it was in 2004, http://www.sp4mph.suw.pl/tz.html (the epicenter was located in the Kaliningrad District of Russia)

  16. island1 says:

    clondike: So there’s no safety in running away to the north! Thanks for the warning :)

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