Minor earthquake hits southern France

The epicentre was recorded in the commune of Oloron-Sainte-Marie, around 35 kilometres from Pau

An earthquake of magnitude 3.9 has been recorded in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in southern France, hitting the department in the early hours of yesterday morning (Saturday November 2).

Tremors were felt at 6h22, with the epicentre thought to be the commune of Oloron-Sainte-Marie in Barcus, around 35 kilometres from the nearest town of Pau, in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

The quake registered 3.9 on the Richter scale, according to early reports from the national seismic surveillance network, RéNass (which is based in Strasbourg, in Grand Est).

This compares to the lesser 3.2 magnitude registered by the seismic activity recorders in the Pyrénées.

The quake was around nine kilometers deep, RéNass said.

No serious damage has been reported, and local newspaper La République des Pyrénées said: “Local firefighters did not report any interventions.”

The Richter scale, developed in 1935 by Charles Richter, measures the strength of an earthquake.

The scale is logarithmic, meaning that an increase of one unit actually signals an earthquake 10 times’ as powerful - so a quake measuring 3 on the scale is 10 times’ as strong as a quake measuring 2.

According to reports adapted from US Geological Survey documents, quakes are considered to be minor from 3.0 to 3.9 on the scale, and are often felt by people nearby, but hardly ever cause any damage.

Quakes registering 4-4.9 may cause objects inside houses to move, but usually no further damage; those registering 5-5.9 may cause damage to unstable buildings; and those registering 6-6.9 may cause more serious effects.

Quakes registering from 7-9.9 will cause severe, destructive damage, and are only felt every 1-20 years.

No earthquake has yet reached the “top magnitude” of 10.0; but the strongest ever recorded was the Great Chilean Earthquake in Chile, in 1960, which was recorded at 9.5 on the Richter scale, and killed more than 6,000 people.

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

More articles from French news
More articles from Connexion France
Other articles that may interest you


Loading some business profiles...

Loading some classifieds...