Tag Archives: United States Geological Survey

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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