Unusual moderate and shallow earthquake in Germany

University of Cologne Seismogram from the earthquake of February 14 2011 at Nassau

FINAL UPDATE 6:48 PM UTC : As many as 3 weak aftershocks have been recorded after the mainshock of 4.5 (GFZ Postdam) : 3.2, 2.6 and 3.6 all at shallow depths of approx. 10 km.

UPDATE 4:10 PM UTC : The greater Rhein river valleys are by seismologists as among the potentially most dangerous earthquake zones in Central Europe.

UPDATE 3:44 PM UTC : A (nice) testimony in German : Hier hat es auch ganz schön gewackelt,dachte erst ich spinne.
Aber als ein lautes Krummeln hinterher kam wußte ich bescheid
Translation : It wobbled quite well here, I thought at first was crazy.
But when a loud rumbling followed the shaking, I knew it immediately.

UPDATE 3:36 PM UTC : After being scared seriously with the shaking, people are picking up normal live again and are joking endlessly about the earthquake on social platforms.

UPDATE 3:28 PM UTC : Seismogram from the University of Cologne of today's earthquake.

UPDATE 3:19 PM UTC : Testimony, just in - We live in Bitburg, Germany and it was very weak but we felt it here. We felt it as a weak III MMI shaking.

UPDATE 2:27 PM UTC : Already on Sunday evening around 21.19 clock, there has been a first very weak quake of magnitude 1.4, whose epicenter was in Nassau.
These were instrument measurements. Most of the people only feel earthquakes starting from a magnitude of 2.5.

UPDATE 2:12 PM UTC : Ivanina Tucker just wrote in our Facebook account : I live in Trier and I felt this happen. I heard a small crack sound from my walls and it felt as if the wall of my room was pushing my bed back and forth. My bed shook about 5 times very softly and then stopped. I didn't feel anything else after this point. This is the first time i have ever felt an earthquake.

UPDATE 2:12 PM UTC : Some EMSC testimonies :
Nassau : Lasted only a few seconds, felt like a train or a lorry was running right through my flat.
Koblenz : The trembling lasted for some 20 seconds. Then there was a pause of nearly 1 minute and then another little quake.
Bonn : It was a very short but strong motion, it felt more as up-down as left-right.
40 km from epicenter : I talked to my girlfried on the phone the moment the earthquake happened.
She lives 40 km nearer to the epicentrum than me and she told me that the windwos were making sounds and the flower pots were moving a bit.  Her dog was frightened and went down her desk.
One second after she told me, I could feel the earthquake! My desk moved and the floor was shaking a bit.
It was the first time in my life I felt something like that

Germany earthquake February 14 2011 epicenter landscape - Panoramio picture by Rainer I. - http://www.panoramio.com/photo/19042986

UPDATE 2:05 PM UTC : James Daniell reports after making many phone calls to hotels and public places near the epicenter that the Modified Mercalli (MMI) scale Felt values range from V (moderate shaking) in the direct epicenter area to a IV (light shaking) to V in Nassau and Homberg.

UPDATE 2:02 PM UTC : Testimonies from people in the epicenter area are stating that the shaking lasted 4 to 5  seconds strongly.

UPDATE 2:00 PM UTC : Next we called Hoemburg, people did tell us it gave a really big whack, but no damage...

UPDATE 1:57 PM UTC : James Daniell, one of the main contributors to earthquake-report site, is working at the Cedim Institute in Karlsruhe and made some phone calls to neighboring Nassau.
People explained that the felt the earthquake very sharply but that apart of some fallen chairs NO damage has been made there.
Objects where falling from shelves.
Earlier unconfirmed reports of a collapsed house in Nassau could NOT be conformed by local people.
Hotels called have no substantial damage

UPDATE 1:43 PM UTC : As of this moment, the collapsed house is NOT confirmed.  Damage is currently limited to

craks in walls and broken glass in different places.

UPDATE 1:38 PM UTC : Webcam of Bad Ems closest city to the earthquake epicenter

UPDATE 1:37 PM UTC : Weak aftershocks are starting to hit the area.

UPDATE 1:33 PM UTC : USGS calls it a magnitude 4.2 earthquake at a depth of 5 km.

UPDATE 1:32 PM UTC : Phone lines tend to become overheated by people calling emergency services, police etc.

UPDATE 1:27 PM UTC : USGS has not mentioned this earthquake so far. We can however trust all the below data as Germany GFZ Potsdam and EMSC are very specialized organizations to be trusted.

UPDATE 1:25 PM UTC : The to be confirmed epicenter location,  isd approx. 5 km from Bad Ems (click on link at the 1:19 update)

UPDATE 1:23 PM UTC : Unconfirmed reports are mentioning a collapsed house.  The shaking was felt from the Westerwald t o Rheinhessen.

UPDATE 1:19 PM UTC : EMSC has increased his magnitude value again to 4.8 at a depth of 10 km, unusually strong for Germany. Click here for the location of the epicenter following EMSC

UPDATE 1:17 PM UTC : According to Local German sources the epicenter of the earthquake was located east of Ems and North from Nassau.
Scared people started calling local police and emergency offices for explanations.
We wil keep you informed when additional news is reaching us.

UPDATE 1:13 PM UTC : The earthquake struck about 30 minutes ago at 13:43 local time.

UPDATE 1:07 PM UTC : Earthquake data is confirmed by local specialist seismology center GFZ Potsdam. Magnitude 4.5 at a depth of 6 km.

This information has to be confirmed by other agencies.
Data is coming from EMSC and has still to be reviewed by a seismologist

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : M 4.5
UTC Time :  12:43:11.0 UTC
Local time at epicenter : local time 13:43
Depth (Hypocenter) : 6 km
Send an "earthquake experience report" for this earthquake
Geo-location(s) :
1 km N Arzbach (pop 1,874)
9 km SW Montabaur (pop 12,345)
11 km E Koblenz (pop 107,319)

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map of the area showing the kind of terrain the earthquake took place
3-dimensional view of the earthquake area (USGS epicenter location)
USGS historic earthquakes map
USGS Seismic hazard map

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Quake-Maps.com was also created by SOS Earthquakes. Quake-Maps.com makes it easy to let the world know which shaking people have experienced during the earthquake. Quake-Maps.com gives also the opportunity to write some additional text. Filling up the form takes only 1 minute. Quake-Maps.com gives an overview of all the resent earthquakes and let you even go back in time and retrieve earthquakes of a certain date in the past.

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  1. I live on the island of the Elbe River, in Magdeburg. Our house here has been shaking somehow frequently now. Two nights ago I was awakened at about 4am so strong was the movement. I believed this was earth activity, even if my friend insisted in saying that there is no earthquake in this region of Germany. Thank you for the posts here, they are informative; hopefully people with knowledge on the subject monitors this region too.

  2. I live in Wiesbaden. I was sitting in my second-floor apartment, and the walls started vibrating. Lamps were swaying, and the couch was vibrating. My dog wasn't happy! There was a slight humming noise. It all lasted about 5-10 seconds. I was pretty sure it was an earthquake from previous experience

  3. I work in Ramstein-Miesenbach, and I felt it in our sturdy 3-story building. I was teaching class and stopped lecture. I said to my students, "Notice that? The whole building is shaking." One suggested it was a plane from a nearby airport; another said maybe a large heavy truck was traveling down the road. We felt the shaking for another 20-30 seconds and it passed.

    • Armand Vervaeck and James Daniell says

      Hi Jackie,
      Interesting and thankyou for the detailed info.
      It is always useful for us to know the size of the building as this affects the shaking....
      If you would like any more info ever for your class on earthquakes or volcanoes in German, we have some resources here at CEDIM (Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology) which are very easy to understand and suitable for all ages.
      All the best.

  4. I live in Nassau (my testimony from the EMSC website was quoted above). Being from the UK and having never experienced an earthquake before the sudden shaking of my whole house caught me very off-guard. I have been feeling more rumblings all day and a particularly strong one not too long ago. The larger one this afternoon didn't last very long but immediately made me think that there had been a large explosion or a crash before all my furniture rattled and some pictures that I have hanging on the wall fell off.

    • Armand Vervaeck says

      Thank you Robert. Nice to read your experience report. The last more powerful aftershock was 3.6 at 18:23 local time.

  5. We live in Gutenaker, about 14km from Nassau. We were eating lunch when it hit. The house shook and things fell in the cabinets. It started out as a low rumble, got louder, then softer again and lasted about 15 seconds.

    • Armand Vervaeck and James Daniell says

      Dear SLH,
      many thanks for your comments. Hope that too many things did not fall from the cabinets....
      Interesting on the rumbling for 15 seconds.... We have not had many reports from the east side of the epicenter.
      Thanks again.

  6. I live in Mainz Kaste, Wiesbaden area and I felt strong earth quake completely shaking the building.
    I initially thought that someone was pushing me from behind forcefully on my chair.
    I have just confirmed the news from this very website. Thanks for your updates.

    • Armand Vervaeck and James Daniell says

      Very interesting to hear...
      In Mainz, that is now a couple of earthquakes felt in short succession! Let's hope that it doesn't become a regular occurrence 🙂
      Thanks for the report... much appreciated!

  7. I live in Ramstein-Miesenbach and I felt it. I was sitting in my bed when it started rocking and things were rattling in my room. It was very quick, lasting only a few seconds. Knew right away it was an earthquake from past experiences.

    • Armand Vervaeck and James Daniell says

      Hi A,
      Thank you very much for your report, interesting to read.
      We appreciate very much your input... Have you heard any other reports from your town or friends?
      Vielen Dank!