113 years since the Oslo Earthquake


The 113 year old Oslo earthquake damaged buildings and caused panic among people. Could this happen again?


On Sunday, October 23, 1904 at 11.27, there was earthquake in eastern Norway. The shocks shook the areas on both sides of the Oslo fjord from south of Fredrikstad/Tønsberg to the north of Oslo.

Head of Department of the Earthquake Risk Centre at NORSAR, Dominik Lang, says the earthquake has been estimated at 5.4 on the Richter scale, and was the largest known earthquake in the Oslo area.

‘It happened in the middle of the high season on a Sunday, and led to panic,’ Lang said.

Recently, seismologists have analysed the shocks in the Kattegat approximately 25km south of Hvaler, just west of Strømstad in Sweden.

An Oslo church was so damaged that it had to be torn down.

The earthquake was felt over an area of 800,000 square kilometres from Namsos in the north to Poland, and across southern Norway to Helsinki in the east. The main quake was initiated in at least 11 places, and at least 18 aftershocks were reported.

‘The Johannes church in Oslo, which was built on flimsy foundations and already had cracks before the earthquake occurred, was so damaged by the quake that it was closed and later torn down,’ said Lang.

Can it happen again?

Lang says that such a quake could happen again.

On November 29, 2000, there was an earthquake in the Strømstad area, which could be felt throughout almost all of Eastern Norway. This means that the region is an active earthquake area.

Next year, the movie ‘Skjelvet’, will be released, which deals with the Oslo area being hit by a devastating earthquake. Although it is very rare that the shocks in the Oslo area have the strength as those in 1904, geological investigations show that the danger of a new quake are real.

‘Today, we don’t have enough information about the periodisation of such earthquakes, but geologists believe there is reason to expect a large earthquake in the Oslo region in the future. But we do not know when it is coming,’ said Lang.



Source: NORSAR / Norway Today


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