Earthquake in Luxembourg: how dangerous and how likely?

Luxembourg is located in a relatively non-hazardous area. Far from the borders of tectonic plates, so this means that the likelihood of an earthquake here is very low. However, the probability cannot be completely ruled out.

Earthquake in Luxembourg: how dangerous and how likely?

Earthquakes are caused by the friction of the lithospheric plates. Vibrations are transmitted further down the plate, triggering jolts that weaken the further they get away from the epicenter. The catastrophe in Turkey and Syria, for example, could have been felt in Luxembourg. But the effect was so small, that only the seismic sensors were able to pick it up.

To estimate the seismic intensity in the countries of Europe a special scale was developed. It is called the EMS or European Macroseismic Scale. The EMS includes 12 levels of destruction: from very subtle vibrations to the complete collapse of buildings and infrastructure.

The peak ground acceleration in Luxembourg is 0.39 m/s² according to the EM scale and the collected measurements. We can certainly call that a harmless figure. Yet history remembers earthquakes that affected the Grand Duchy.

For instance, in 1692, the castle of Vianden was damaged by a real earthquake.

Another example would be the great Lisbon earthquake of 1 November 1755, it was also felt in Luxembourg. At that time the Portuguese capital was stroke with 500 separate shocks. And they could be felt even on the northern coast of Africa. So the Grand Duchy was affected as well: lost about 500 soldiers, buried by collapsed barracks.

The recent noticeable earthquake happened in 1992 in the Netherlands. The city of Roermond was shaken with an intensity of 5.9 on the Richter scale. The vibrations reached Luxembourg because of the obvious proximity of the epicenter.

Overall, the Grand Duchy is quite well protected from the destructive effects of a lithospheric plate collision. The probability of an earthquake here is almost zero. But the echo of seismically dangerous areas may still reach Luxembourg territory, although there will be little or no damage.