The earth shook yesterday in Chamonix - small earthquakes on Tuesday, February 05, 2019


Tuesday morning, the 5th of February 2019, the earth trembled several times in the Valley of Chamonix.

A total number of six earthquakes happened in Chamonix yesterday, between 9.30 am and 3.17 pm. 

Specialists do not rule out the possibility of another earthquake in the near future, although an exact date is difficult to predict.

Chamonix Valley
Chamonix map

In Chamonix, both residents and tourists were confused and scared yesterday, as many felt the earth shaking under their feet.

For those who felt the earth crack and tremble and questioned their hearing and their overall health, there is some relatively good news: they were not losing their minds!

On the not-so-bright side, several earthquakes did happen within minutes of one another yesterday in Chamonix.

Six earthquakes during one day

The Rénass website, the national seismic monitoring network, recorded no less than six tremors between 9.30 am and 3.17 pm yesterday, in Chamonix. 

"The earth trembled well, it was not due to quarry shooting or rock avalanches", stated Jerome van der Woerd, a researcher at the CNRS at the Institute of Earth Physics in Strasbourg.

Jerome van der Woerd estimates that the origin of the earthquakes is at a depth of between 5 and 12 km below the earth's crust, with the epicentre being on the Italian side, south the Mont Blanc massif, next to Courmayeur.

Nevertheless, he mentions it is difficult to find the exact location, as small earthquakes are harder to understand than big ones, because of imperfect information networks.

Difficult to foresee possible replicas

In regards to a big earthquake, Jerome van der Woerd says: "It happened in the past, so it can still happen".

As a reminder, in 1905 there was an earthquake with a magnitude estimated at 5.3 in Chamonix and on the Swiss side, in the Sion valley, up to 6.

The specialist mentions that small shocks of this type should not have any consequences. However, it all depends on stability. If the rocks, buildings and avalanches are already very unstable, then a simple vibration would most likely trigger them.

Le dauphine

Reminder! Unfortunately, earthquakes are unpredictable.

To minimize their negative effects, be sure to always follow the recommended measures for before, during and after an earthquake.