Crowdsourcing in Europe: how to share macroseismic data of felt earthquakes ?

Crowdsourcing in Europe: how to share macroseismic data of felt earthquakes ?
“Did you feel the earthquake ?”     “Avez-vous ressenti un tremblement de Terre?”      “Erdbeben gespürt?”
         ” Følte du siste jordskjelv?”            “Sentiu um Sismo?”
“Ha sentido algún terremoto?”      “Pocítili ste zemetrasenie?”      “Hai Sentito il Terremoto?”
“почувствахте ли земетресение?”

Technical workshop on internet macroseismology: a reflection

14-15 November 2017, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Last week 41 European seismologists from 19 organisations gathered at ARSO in Ljubljana (Slovenia) to discuss on a solution how macroseismic data, i.e. earthquake intensity data derived from felt earthquake reports, could be better collected and exchanged between seismological institutes in the future. The European and Mediterranean situation is quite complex as at least 36 seismological institutes (see below) in 24 countries all collect felt reports using their own or a standardised online questionnaire or using a smartphone app. When an earthquake is only felt within the border of one country, likely only one responsible national institute (except in Germany or Spain) will have all the data and can properly map the earthquake impact. However, in case of cross-border felt earthquakes, the gathering of macroseismic data is fragmented between different institutes who are all responsible for the macroseismic information in their country. Hence, sharing intensity values derived from online questionnaires is essential and would strongly facilitate mapping the impact of transfrontier-felt earthquakes in the future.

During the workshop 17 studies (see list) on national and international methodologies, objectives, collecting systems and case studies were presented. Currently, apart from rapid information about the felt area from EMSC and a few cross-border initiatives, there is no coordinated and comprehensive system to collect, interpret and present macroseismic data on a European level. During the discussion numerous ideas were exchanged how to harmonise the data to facilitate the exchange. It was decided to develop a new proposal for an ESC (European Seismological Commission) working group that can concentrate on these challenges in macroseismic data exchange in Europe, and to propose a special session dedicated to Internet Macroseismology at the forthcoming ESC General Assembly in Malta (2-7 Sep 2018).

The workshop was organised by Ina Cecić (ARSO) and Rémy Bossu (EMSC) with the support from EPOS.

Let’s give macroseismology in Europe a face. Earthquakes don’t stop at political or language borders.

Participants to the workshop. Source: ARSO: (14 Nov 2017)

Following studies were presented:

  • Bossu R. (EMSC) Collecting felt reports of Global Earthquakes at EMSC:  How and Why?
  • Landes M. (EMSC) From eyewitnesses to seismological services.
  • Šket Motnikar B. & Cerk M. (ARSO, IZV, Slovenia) Overview of database structure and macroseismic assessment through web application in Slovenia.
  • De Rubeis, V. & Tosi, P. (INGV, Italy) The experience of crowdsourced web macroseismic intensity investigation in Italy:  evolution, results, problems and perspectives.
  • Pazak P. (ESI SAS, Slovakia) Slovak web-based questionnaire for macroseismic data collection.
  • Rønnevik C. (UniB, Norway) Integration of Norwegian Macroseismic Data into EPOS e-Infrastructure.
  • Schlupp A. & Sira C. (BCSF EOST, France) BCSF macroseismic data collection for French territories, and their exchange and merging for earthquakes affecting different countries.
  • Horn N. (ZAMG, Austria) Webservices for the distribution of macroseismic data.
  • Sović I. & Ivančić I. (GO PMF, Croatia) Macroseismic data collected in Croatia by internet.
  • Kaiser D. (BGR, Germany) Collecting macroseismic data in Germany by internet – an overview.
  • Musson R. (by Cecić I.) (BGS, UK) Implementing the EMS for online intensity.
  • Moldovan I.A. (NIEP, Romania) Internet macroseismology in Romania.
  • Alves P.M. & Marreiros, C. (IPMA, Portugal) Overview of the methods and results related with macroseismic web-questionnaires at IPMA – Portugal
  • Sbarra P. (INGV, Italy) Macroseismic diagnostics anomalies some practical examples.
  • Beinersdorf S. (BUniW, Germany) Shakemaps for Central Europe implementing macroseismic observations
  • Van Noten K. & Lecocq T. (ROB, GSB, Belgium) Merging transfrontier internet macroseismic data of earthquakes in NW Europe using a grid cell approach
  • Batlló J., Jara J.A., Irizarry J. & Figueras S. (ICGC) Macroseismics in Cataloni

European institutes

In below an overview is given of all European institutes that organise a macroseismic online survey (or in their overseas departments). Apologies if any survey would have been forgotten. Please contact us for mistakes. This list is constructed to give Macroseismology more visibility and to create some transparency in this labyrinth of data collection.

Source: Solid Earth 8(2)

Andorra: CENMA, Unit for Environmental studies: Enquesta Sísmica (Catalan)

Austria: Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG): Erdbeben gespürt?

Belgium – Germany: Transfrontier collaboration between the Royal Observatory of Belgium and the University of Cologne (Erdbebenstation Bensberg): Avez-vous ressenti un tremblement de Terre?  /  Heeft u de aardbeving gevoeld?  /  Haben Sie ein Erdbeben gespürt / Did you Feel the earthquake?

Bulgary: National institute in Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography:  ВЪПРОСНИК ЗА УСЕТЕНО ЗЕМЕТРЕСЕНИЕ

Czech Republic: Uses the international EMSC inquiry. I just felt an earthquake

Denmark: Geological survey of Denmark and Greenland: Indberetning af jordskælv

Finland: University of Helsinki : Ilmoitus maanjäristyshavainnoista (Finnish) / Skicka Din rapport om jordskalvet (Swedish)

France: Le Bureau Central Sismologique Français (BCSF) : Avez-vous ressenti un tremblement de Terre?


Greece: Uses the international EMSC inquiry. I just felt an earthquake

Hungary: Hungary Earthquake Information System: Amennyiben Ön is érezte a földrengést, kérjük töltse ki kérdőívünket!

Iceland: Icelandic Met Office : Tilkynna jarðskjálfta

Ireland: Dublin Institute for advanced sciences: Have you felt an earthquake

Italy:  Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV): Hai Sentito il Terremoto?

Malta: University of Malta: Did you feel an earthquake?

Norway: Norwegian National Seismic Network – University of Bergen: Følte du siste jordskjelv?

Portugal: Instituto Português do mar e da atmosfera: Sentiu um Sismo?

Romania: National Institute for Earth Physics : L-ai simtit?

Slovakia: Bratislava Geophysical Institute: Pocítili ste zemetrasenie na Slovensku?

Slovenia: Slovenian Environment Agency :  Potresi – vprašalnik


Switzerland: Swiss Seismological Service: “Did You Feel an earthquake?” (also available in French, German, English and Italian)

Sweden: Svenska nationella seismiska nätet – Uppsala Universitet: Har du känt av ett jordskalv?

The Netherlands: Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut (KNMI): Heeft u een aardbeving gevoeld?

United Kingdom: British Geological Survey (BGS): Have you felt an earthquake?

Global: European–Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Have you felt an earthquake?

By Koen Van Noten
Koen Van Noten is an earthquake geologist at the Geological Survey of Belgium (previously Royal Observatory of Belgium). He investigates the influence of site effects on intraplate earthquake ground motions using intensity data of felt earthquakes and near-surface geophysical techniques. Koen’s role as ECS is to encourage students to promote their results in seismology, geology and near-surface geophysics in various ways.

A seismologist on vacation

A seismologist on vacation

Beginning of this month, I was travelling to Germany to visit family and friends. One week out of the office, without interpreting wiggles or creating synthetic seismograms. But I bet that most of you know that vacation from science does not really exist, especially if an awesome opportunity comes along…

What do seismologists do during their vacation?

I was visiting a friend in Göttingen. Maybe you have heard about this German city beforehand – of course in the context of seismology. You might think of Emil Wiechert and his seismographs, Karl Zoeppritz and his equations, Beno Gutenberg or lots of other seismologist, who all worked in Göttingen.

Emil Wiechert (1861-1928) came to Göttingen in 1898 and started building the seismological observatory. Using the data of the seismographs, he carried out research to uncover the mysteries hidden inside the Earth. For years to come, important research was done by a lot of seismologist at the observatory. Beginning of the 21th century the golden times of the seismological observatory seemed to be forgotten and the site was on the verge of being teared down. But luckily in 2005 an association was formed that restored the site and takes good care of it now. The Wiechert’sche Erdbebenwarte Göttingen e.V. (Wiechert Earthquake Station Association) offers a guided tour on the first Sunday of every month between 2 and 5 pm to show the public around the observatory.

So I dragged my non-seismologist friend to the Erdbebenwarte – no, actually he was as excited as I was. All started with a very neat general introduction to seismology that was suitable for everybody, from the little kid to the grown-up seismologist. You could also listen to witty anecdotes about how the association struggled with German bureaucracy.

I don’t want to reveal too much because it is much nicer to experience it by yourself. But let me give you a sneak peek of what we saw and experienced there.

Exploration seismology in the early 20th century

Ludger Mintrop (1880-1956) dropped a 4-ton steel ball from a 15 meters height scaffolding to create artificial earthquakes to look inside the earth using transportable seismometers. Well, transportable seismometers at that time were still on the heavy side (~ 700 kg).


Mintrops 4-ton steel ball. Photo by Wiechert’sche Erdbebenwarte e.V.

The association restored the scaffolding and now they drop the ball every time visitors are around. To hear and to feel the bump of the 4-ton steel ball was amazing. And the first thought that popped in my mind: “It would be a lot of fun to create seismograms the old fashioned way.” Of course, nowadays this is not efficient for us anymore, but I can dream, right?

The oldest working seismograph

Even though seeing the Mintrop ball fall down and feeling the impact was impressive, the best was yet to come: seeing the oldest, still working seismographs that already Wiechert had looked at.


Entrance to the seismograph room. Photo by Wiechert’sche Erdbebenwarte e.V.

The seismographs at this site were built in 1902 and 1904/05, and doing their duty already for way over 100 years.

“Every seismologist should kneel before this site.”

I was looking around when Wolfgang Brunk, our guide and chairman of the association, said those words and I decided it would have been too embarrassing for me to kneel down. But he is right, it is a very special place especially for seismologists. The doors were opened and we entered the room that houses the oldest working seismographs in the world.


Inside the “holy grail” of seismology. The seismographs build in the beginning of the 20th century are still running. Photo by Wiechert’sche Erdbebenwarte e.V.

I enjoyed the guided tour a lot, definitely the best day in 2016 thus far. It is a very cool “scientific adventure park” for the whole family.

With love to detail the association did and still does an amazing job to keep Wiechert’s legacy alive and to bring the seismology in an easy and fun way to the people. Next time you are in Germany, you definitely have to visit the seismological station in Göttingen! You can either do that on the first Sunday of every month between 2 and 5 pm, or you contact the association to find the most convenient time for a private tour.

Are there similar sites that you visited during your vacation? Comment here! Maybe we can come up with a guide about “seismological vacation” worldwide.

Kathrin.SpiekerKathrin Spieker is one of the EGU ECS-representatives of the Seismology division. She is a PhD student in seismology at the Department of Earth Science of the University of Bergen (Norway) and investigates globally the crustal and upper mantle structure using passive seismic imaging with the focus on teleseismic converted waves. You can contact Kathrin via e-mail:

First International Conference of the Arabian Geosciences Union


The Arabian Geosciences Union announced the First International Conference of the Arabian Geosciences Union and general assembly to be held in Algiers, Algeria, February 17th and 18th, 2016.

For full info is available on  Brochure:

Information taken from:

This initiative aims to promote Geosciences in both North Africa and the Middle East. Hopes are to provide a high level exchange platform where participants will be presenting their current works and future research plans in a large range of Earth Science fields. A comprehensive program is planned with multiple keynote speakers, parallel technical sessions, poster sessions, and exhibitors. As an added promote to participants, the AIC-1 venue organized a post- conference excursion that allows access to the unique continental Hoggar Shield, the Saharan Atlas and breath taking landscapes. The ArabGU Founding Team and the AIC-1 Organizing Committee would like to invite you to participate and submit your communications. Abstracts in all aspects of Earth sciences in Africa, Arab World and neighboring areas are welcome. Hopefully gathering most of the Arab country geoscience representatives will allow stimulating discussions, an incentive to take the Arab and International Geosciences to the next level. This conference will also witness the creation of the first two sections of the ArGU: the Planetary Sciences section & the History of Geology section.

Can cloud formations predict earthquakes?

UPDATE: 28th May 2015

A new paper on this subject has recently been published on Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences. The scientists examine the 2012 M 6.0 earthquake in the Po Valley of northern Italy. From inspection of 4 years of satellite images they find numerous examples of linear-cloud formations over Italy. A simple test shows no obvious statistical relationship between the occurrence of these cloud formations and earthquakes that occurred in and around Italy.

Read it the story here:


September 11, 2014

A new paper is out for discussion in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences titled On a report that the 2012 M = 6.0 earthquake in Italy was predicted after seeing an unusual cloud formation.

Po Valley, Italy

A group of researchers from various institutions in the USA and Italy took the task of studying cloud formations across the entire Italian peninsula. It all started after several reports had suggested that linear-cloud formations might be precursory to earthquakes. The researchers examined satellite images of northern Italy over the duration of four years in order to establish if the formations seen at the time of the 2012 magnitude 6 earthquake in the Po Valley, Italy were related to the earthquake itself.

Twenty-four separate examples of linear-cloud formations over Italy (January 2010 to December 2013), including the instance for 22 April 2012 that Guangmeng and Jie (2013) claim led them to predict the M = 6.0 Earthquake on 20 May 2012

Some of the presented examples of linear-cloud formations over Italy from January 2010 to December 2013.

The answer is no.
They observed numerous examples of linear-cloud formations over Italy, and concluded that there is no obvious statistical relationship between the occurrence of these cloud formations and earthquakes that occurred in and around Italy. Instead they claim that the cloud formations were formed by the interaction of moisture-laden wind flowing over mountains.

Access the full PDF here.