Minor earthquake hits town in West Bohemia

The 3.1-magnitude earthquake did not cause any damage in Cheb.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 09.12.2022 11:11:00 (updated on 09.12.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

A minor earthquake hit the town of Cheb in West Bohemia, on the Czech-German border, yesterday afternoon. Seismologists detected it as a magnitude 3.1 earthquake on the Richter scale, meaning that it could be felt and seen.

The quake struck at approximately 4:45 p.m., with people living about 40 kilometers away in the municipality of Jindřichovice also feeling tremors and reverberations. They could see and hear, for example, the “clinking of glasses in cupboards,” ČTK reports.

Spokesperson of the Karlovy Vary Regional Fire Department Martin Kasal confirmed that no damage had been reported.

Free from major earthquakes

The Czech Republic is a stranger to large-scale earthquakes. The biggest earthquake recorded in the country’s modern history was on Dec. 21, 1985, when a 4.6 magnitude quake hit West Bohemia, leading to the cracking of walls and falling of chimneys, ČT24 recalls. In 1908, a magnitude 5 earthquake was recorded in Karlovy Vary. 

Researchers from the Czech Institute of Rock Structure and Mechanics of the Academy of Sciences believe that earthquakes with magnitudes of up to 6.5 hit the west of the country around 192 BC to 1134 BC. However, no empirical data proves this claim.

In more recent times, a 3.8-4.1 magnitude earthquake hit West Bohemia in May 2018, causing up to CZK 2 million worth of damage. The West Bohemia region has registered several earthquakes in the past 10 years, all of them on a minor scale, which caused limited or no damage.

Czechia's earthquake epicenter to the west

Western Bohemia, and in particular the area near Cheb, is the most seismically active region in the whole country. However, the region is limited to only minor earthquakes, due to Czechia’s geotectonic structure and relatively far placement from any tectonic plates. 

Earthquakes registered in Czechia are almost always part of an “earthquake swarm,” which is a series of weak microshocks rather than a singular earthquake. Such swarms can last for a period of months, as had been the case at the turn of 1985 in West Bohemia.

Czechia is most at risk of earthquake damage from large tremors abroad, particularly those from the Eastern Alpine region (such as Austria and Italy), and the Balkans area, such as Croatia. A 6.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Croatia in December 2020 was also felt in the Czech Republic. 

The Czech Republic is generally extremely well-protected from natural disasters. German non-governmental organization Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft ranked it in the top 15 safest countries out of 193 states worldwide.

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