Earthquakes in Crete

This page covers the most recent earthquakes in Crete, earthquake classification, magnitude and severity and our experience of Crete earthquakes and when we last felt an earthquake.

We’d been living on Crete for several years before we felt an earthquake. Of course before moving to live on the Greek island of Crete we were aware that Crete and Greece in general were considered as earthquake zones – more so than the UK for example. And we knew that many earthquakes in Crete or Greece are not felt and do little or no damage to buildings.

So when we felt an earthquake for the first time we did not know what to expect. Well, apart from the obligatory jokes asking ‘Did the earth move for you, darling?’ we were slightly underwhelmed. The earthquake we felt gently shook the chairs we were sitting in momentarily and then nothing. This earthquake occurred on July 1 2009 and was classed as a strong earthquake registering 5.9 magnitude on the Richter scale.

Crete is the largest of the Greeks islands and so it is entirely possible to feel an earthquake on one part of the island and not another. And of course this depends on the magnitude, location, depth and epicentre of any earthquakes in Crete.

It is not surprising that the word for the study of earthquakes - Seismology is derived from the Greek word Seismos meaning Earthquake and Logos meaning science. Crete and Greece are located in the most seismic part of the Mediterranean basin and historically there have had many earthquakes in Crete and Greece ancient history.

As far as earthquakes in Crete go there have been none more devastating than the AD 365 Crete earthquake which has been estimated to be 8 or above magnitude on the Richter scale. Out of all Crete earthquakes this was tremendous causing widespread destruction in Greece, Libya, Egypt and Cyprus. In Crete, nearly all towns were destroyed. As with many major earthquakes a resulting tsunami followed in the wake of this Crete earthquakes impact devastating the southern and eastern coasts of the Mediterranean.

The Richter Scale

Class

Magnitude

Effects

Great

8 or higher

Great earthquake. Can totally destroy areas for several hundred kilometres.

Major

7 - 7.9

May cause serious damage in very populated areas.

Strong

6 - 6.9

Slight damage possible to buildings and other structures.

Moderate

5 -5.9

Often felt with some minor damage possible in very populated areas.

Light

4 - 4.9

Often felt, but rarely causes damage

Minor

3 - 3.9

Usually not felt, but can be recorded by seismograph

Recent Earthquakes in Crete

The most recent strong earthquake to shake Crete had a 6.4 magnitude and occurred on 12 October 2013. The epicentre was s 37 k off the city of Chania in western Crete. The earthquake struck at 4:11pm and its epicentre was 40k below the seabed. There were no reports of casualties or major damage.

Tremors were felt as far away as Athens, the Greek capital 180 miles away, and across southern Greece. 

The most dramatic time we felt an earthquake was in the Rethymnon area when light fittings were swinging from side to side indoors and the shaking lasted for several seconds. This Crete earthquake occurred on April 1st 2011 and registered as 6.2 on the Richter scale with effects being felt as far away as Malta, Egypt, and Israel. 

The most recent time we felt an earthquake was while relaxing on a sunbed at the fabulous beach resort of Georgiopolis on the north coast of Crete. It felt like someone was purposely shaking the sunbeds from behind and lasted for a few seconds. This was on April 6 2013 in the afternoon. This earthquake registered 5.2 on the Richter scale with the epicentre recorded in the sea 57 km south of Agia Galini on the south coast of Crete and 10 km south-east of Gavdos island. The depth was estimated to be 27 km. No damage or injuries were reported.

So happily, our experiences of earthquakes in Crete have been very minor and rare too. There have been no major Crete earthquakes causing major damage, death or serious injury for over 50 years or more.



Just some of the reasons we love Crete...

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