More earthquakes than normal shook Switzerland last year

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More earthquakes than normal shook Switzerland last year
Switzerland's earthquakes in 2016. Image: Swiss Seismological Service

Switzerland experienced 880 earthquakes in 2016, slightly more than the 40-year average, according to the Swiss Seismological Service (SED).


The service, which is run by federal technology institute ETH Zurich, said 31 of those registered above 2.5 on the Richter scale, more than the average of 23.
As usual the cantons of Valais and Graubünden were the most affected areas of the country.  
Medium-sized earthquakes registering 3 or more on the Richter scale hit Juf in the canton of Graubünden – Europe’s highest year-round inhabited village – Saint-Gingolph on the shore of Lake Geneva and an area on the Swiss-French border near Martigny in the Valais.  
But it was the Valais village of Leukerbad that experienced the country’s biggest earthquake of the year, on October 24th, when a 4.1 magnitude quake was felt across the region. A number of people called police but no damage was reported.
An earthquake of that size only occurs once every 1-3 years – the last was in 2013.
Although the country experienced more seismic activity than the 40-year average, such variations are normal, said the SED, and do not allow it to make any predictions for the future.
Strong earthquakes of 6 magnitude or above occur only once every 50-150 years. 
The last, a 6.2, hit Sierre in the Valais in 1946, meaning Switzerland is due another large one by 2040, according to geologists
Neighbouring Italy experienced several deadly earthquakes in 2016, some of which could also be felt in southern Switzerland, said the service.
Switzerland’s strongest documented earthquake, a 6.6, hit Basel in 1356.



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