Recent Earthquake Activity in Crete, Greece
When I first moved to Crete some years ago, I was always being asked about earthquakes from friends and family back home in UK. In all the time since, even though Greece is located in an area known for its seismic activity, I can report that there have only been one or two tremors that have caused concern and temporarily affected daily life.
Awhile back, a "big one" that affected Crete struck on October 12, 2013 at 4.12pm local time - siesta hour - with a 6.3 on the Richter scale and an epicentre some 68 kms west of the city of Chania and 23kms deep under the Mediterranean sea . The quake's extreme depth in the Earth's crust is probably reason enough for the limited real damage done to property or buildings and only very minor injuries suffered by residents of western Crete. In assessing the limited damage from the quake, several supermarkets were a bit of mess after articles came flying off the shelves. In addition, several Cretans around Sfakia on the south coast of Crete mentioned they felt shaken in their beds as they took their afternoon nap. No serious injuries were reported.
In seismic terms then, Crete has got off lightly with limited damage in recent years. Much of the reason is in the high standard of safety applied to the National Property Building Codes, public awareness, efficient emergency crews and good communications.
History tells us that Athens and others areas of mainland Greece to the north of Crete located on different fault lines have come in for a greater share of the stronger tremors. In fact, you need to go back to the year 1999 for the deadliest earthquake that struck close to Greek capital with a 5.9 magnitude tremor. It resulted in 143 people dead, 110 collapsed buildings and more than 5,000 buildings severely damaged.
How About Serious Earthquakes this Century?
More recently, Greek media reported on March 3, 2021, that an even more powerful daytime quake hit near Larissa and surrounding area in Central Greece just after noon. While shallow it recorded a 6.0 level on the Richter scale. Buildings and schools with classes in progress across a wide area were damaged or collapsed. This time no one person directly died with only a few minor injuries. Thankfully, school children followed their safety training and were unhurt. Aftershocks measuring up to 5.2 in the following 24 hours caused widespread concern and worried families had a sleepless night. Effects of the quakes and after shocks were felt across borders in Albania and North Macedonia.
The Earthquake map below shows 'real time' activity.
If you hover your cursor over any of the coloured dots you will get a day and time of the latest seismic activity in Crete and elsewhere in Greece. As mentioned earlier, please note how most of the intense activity occurs in Northern Greece especially the Northern Aegean Sea area.
Brits in Crete is grateful for the permission to use the real time earthquake feed of Greece and surrounding areas from the Institute of Dynamics at the National Observatory of Athens.