GFZ German research centre for geo sciences

Earthquake in northern Germany

On 25 March, a shallow earthquake with a magnitude of 3.5 shook the district of Diepholz in Lower Saxony. The possible cause is natural gas extraction in the region.

A minor earthquake shook the region around the town of Syke in Lower Saxony on Monday, 25 March. The quake occurred around six kilometres south to southwest of Syke. The GFZ's earthquake monitor, GEOFON, recorded a magnitude of 3.5, while the Lower Saxony Earthquake Service (NED) gave a magnitude of 3.6. The quake occurred at a shallow depth, probably less than 5 kilometres. Many people in the region felt the quake, with some reporting minor damage to buildings such as cracks in the plaster, according to media reports.

According to the GEOFON earthquake catalogue, there have been around ten other quakes in the area within a radius of around 50 km from the current epicentre since 2021. The last major quake near Syke was in 2014 (magnitude 3.1 according to the NED), the largest to date according to information from the NED was in 2005 (magnitude 3.8).

The GFZ is currently carrying out further analyses of the data in order to determine the depth, magnitude and mechanism of the earthquake more precisely. "In agreement with the Lower Saxony Earthquake Service, we also assume that a connection to natural gas production in the area is likely due to the local proximity. It should be noted that there does not necessarily have to be a direct temporal connection to changes in production. In Germany and the Netherlands, earthquakes often only occur several years after the start of or a change in production," says Gesa Petersen, post-doctoral scientist in the GFZ's “Physics of Earthquakes and Volcanoes” section.

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