I experienced an Earthquake! Here’s some facts about this common Greek affair

An Experience

Kefalonia is not only the biggest of the Ionian islands but also one of the most beautiful ones!

Boasting a breath-taking natural landscape with exotic beaches, picturesque fishing villages and magical underground caves, Kefalonia is one of the best destinations in Greece for nature lovers!

Although we arrived at beautiful temperatures of 26 degrees and intensely high humidity- the same time just last week, Kefalonia was plagued with seriously treacherous thunderstorms and lightning.

“You’re very lucky to have missed that, no point coming to the island in that kind of weather.” Our host says to us, as we arrive at Anna Pollatou airport.

A little Crucial History

Hey – I’m not a fan of history either but read on to understand why things happen.

In 1953, what is still known as the “greatest tragedy” hit Kefalonia. It struck the southern Ionian Islands on August 12th and between 445 and 800 people were killed.

The event measured a solid 6.8 on the moment magnitude scale, raising the whole island by 60cm and causing widespread damage throughout the islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos.

It was measured a X (extreme) on the Mercalli Intensity Scale.

Nearly 66 years later, Greece is still one of the world’s most seismically active counties.

During our 72 hours stay in the Ionian Island of Kefalonia, we experienced our own version of seismic activity – a minor aftershock from a nearby island of Zakynthos.

Facts

The University of Athens, department of Geophysics-Geothermics keeps a very detailed track record of any seismic activity and earthquake data on their website and graph other information about every temblor that strikes Greece.

During the time we were there, you can see below excerpts of how often tremors and quakes occurred in islands both far and nearby.

Is it safe?

The buildings are built to withstand these kinds of tremors- reinforced and redesigned shortly after the 1953 wreckage.

Most of Crete, Greece, and the Greek Islands are now contained in a “box” of fault lines running in different directions.

This is in addition to the earthquake potential from the still-lively volcanoes, including Nysiros Volcano, thought by some experts to be overdue for a major eruption.

The Calm wrapped in Storm

We are staying in Argostoli, and on the night of 11th October 2019, It came. The floor beneath us in our villa began to violently shake. Some of us had been downstairs, some of us in their rooms, and I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth.

Glass began trembling.

It was perhaps 23:00 hrs and not much noise was coming from outside. Just a rumble.

It stopped as quick as it started, and it was though nothing was disturbed outside.

I thought it was a tractor driving near the villa. The roads were awfully narrow and steep, so perhaps the juice required to get up a steep hill combined with the time of night had caused the ruckus. Nothing broke. Paintings didn’t come off the walls. It was very minor in impact.

Not knowing what it was, we locked the doors and went to sleep.

In the morning, our neighbours sat outside, basking in the sun for breakfast.

They confirmed, for the first time in my life, the words I’d never wanted to hear.

Many of the quakes that strike have their epicentres under the sea. While these can shake up surrounding islands, they rarely cause severe damage.

The tremble we felt was an aftershock of a nearby island of Zakynthos, experiencing an undersea earthquake. We dont know the extent of damage or how bad they got it. To think the little shaking we had, must’ve been minute compared to an island that is much closer to the epicentre. We experienced a 3.1 magnitude aftershock with a 7.0 km depth coming from 28km south east of our location.

“Does this happen regularly?!”

They laugh.

“If you live here, you get very used to them.”

You can keep track of seismic activity and track earthquakes here.

 

The world is a very interesting place.

 

 

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