BGR Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe

Seismic hazard assessment

The earthquake in the Turkish town of Izmit killed more than 17,000 peopleThe earthquake in the Turkish town of Izmit Source: BGR

Among natural phenomena, earthquakes represent the most significant threat to mankind. On average, a damaging earthquake occurs worldwide about once every three days. Even if these events are predominantly in sparsely populated areas and therefore have no significant effects on people, many of the world’s metropolises are located in areas of high seismic activity.

Earthquakes mainly occur at the boundaries of the tectonic plates forming the Earth’s crust. The movement of the plates against each other over a long period of time results in a build-up of stress. When a certain limit is exceeded, the stress is suddenly released in the form of an earthquake.

Although Germany is a country with low to moderate seismicity, there are regions in which damaging earthquakes have been repeatedly observed in the past. Due to the high population density and a large amount of industry, continuous monitoring of seismic activity is indispensable. The resulting data provide the only possibility of identifying long-term trends and determining the associated seismic hazard. Current data on earthquakes, as well as historical information, are fundamental for seismological investigations, e.g. estimating the seismic hazard as a basis for building codes to protect human life and to reduce financial loss. Data of current earthquakes are used e.g. to analyse the structure of the Earth's interior.


Seismologist on duty
Phone: +49 170-2357564 (Hotline, 8:30 A.M - 4:30 P.M)

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