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Earthquakes in Germany:
What effects do they have on people?

In Germany, the threat of earthquakes is far less than in regions in which two continental disks meet. However, also in the Federal Republic there are earthquakes of small to medium intensity.

They are mostly clearly noticeable and occasionally they also cause damage. Most of these quakes occur in the "Niederrheinische Bucht" (Lower Rhine Embayment), the "Mittelrheingebiet" (Middle Rhine area), the "Oberrheingraben" (Upper Rhine Graben), on the "Schwäbische Alb", (Swabian Alb), in the "Voralpengebiet" (foothills of the Alps) as well as in the "Vogtland" (Vogtland region).

These areas are differently densely populated, and in some ones there are conurbations, whereas others are rather rural landscapes. Yet this can only be mapped or illustrated by means of the respective population density, which indicates how many people – statistically speaking – live on one square kilometre. In connection with earthquakes the population density is of major importance. It indicates how many people could be affected by a quake.

Map levels

Map of the seismic events of the last twelve months

Provider: Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR) (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources)

Map of the Population Density 2009 at the level of the combined municipalities

Provider: Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR) (Federal Institute for Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Research).

Validity of the data

The population density of each refers to one municipal area. Within the municipality concerned there are mostly more populated and also less densely populated areas. Therefore, in each individual case it can only be approximately defined how many people would be affected by an earthquake. The present data are based on the 1987 census. An update is intended.

In some cases it cannot be predicted without doubt: Was it a real earthquake or an artificially triggered one, which means, for instance, by a blasting in a quarry?

Time and place of a quake can be determined by the Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR) (German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources) by means of the shear and compression waves recorded by the measuring devices of the latter. Through its measuring network the BGR can locate a quake to precisely to two to five kilometers. This means that on large-scale maps inevitably only the approximate location of the quake appears.

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© 2019 - Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie, Richard-Strauss-Allee 11, 60598 Frankfurt am Main

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