Rare M5.2 earthquake rattles South of France on April 28, 2016

We would rather expect an earthquake hitting Alsace or the French Riviera, but this morning, a rare M5.2 earthquake struck La Rochelle and Rochefort, Charente-Maritime at around 6:46 am (UTC).

The powerful quake was felt from Nantes to Poitiers with people reporting loud booms and worrying but short shakings. Did you feel it?

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An earthquake occurred Thursday morning around 8:50 in the area of La Rochelle and Rochefort, Charente-Maritime. The magnitude of the tremor was first estimated at 5.2, and later downgraded to M4.9 by the French National Seismic Monitoring Network (ReNaSS) and to M4.3 by USGS.

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The epicenter was located 10 km south-southwest of La Rochelle and 23 km northwest of Rochefort at a depth of 10.0 km (6.2 mi).

Is it a known fault zone?

This area has already suffered earthquakes. It is a known fault zone. An earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5 was recorded on the side of the island of Oleron in 1972, and another around 4.5 in 2005.

Although it is not a complete surprise, such events are pretty rare in the area because it’s not the most seismic area of France. And an earthquake of this magnitude, only happens once every 5 or 10 years in the country.

No damages have been reported yet.

Testimonies evoke shaking that lasted between 5 and 10 seconds, objects falling off shelves and pieces of plaster coming off ceilings, loud booms and explosion noises:

Our walls moved, our computers too.
I was in bed sleeping when I felt strong tremors.
The whole warehouse shook for several seconds, there was a loud noise of metal vibrating.
We first thought a lorry had crashed into one of the docks. It was short but very intense and worrying.

Un séisme de magnitude 5 a secoué la Charente-Maritime.

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