Sunday, 6 October 2013

Did The Earth Move For You?

Quakes in the last 24 hours
By all accounts in the early hours of this morning there was an earthquake. It was over the border in Romania, but apparently quite a few in Bulgaria also felt it. Especially those in towns along the Danube, and also some in Pavlikeni also claim to have felt it. We were not in that number, even the animals didn't seem to notice, but it did get me wondering about earthquakes and seismic activity here in Bulgaria. The main quake from this morning seems to have registered at about 5.3 on the Richter Scale, with subsequent tremors and aftershocks in the region of 2.3 to 2.7 on the Richter Scale. It just goes to prove that anywhere in the world can be subjected to a quake or a tremor, but some areas are more prone to them than others.

World Seismic Areas
As you can see from the Seismic hazard map, Bulgaria falls in such an area. Many people living here will tell you that they have felt tremors. I thought that I did once, but it turned out to be Sirrius having a scratch and rocking the chair. We have been told about keys jingling in a door lock during a local tremor. There are also others who claim that the area is overdue for a big earthquake. Last year there was one, of a similar scale, near to the city of Pernik. Reading up on things, even though they might be of a similar magnitude, it is often the depth at which something occurs that causes the problem. There have been many earthquakes that have affected the country, and more importantly for me, they have happened quite locally.

We are between the Turkish and Romanian Hotspots
In 1986 there was an earthquake which registered 5.5 on the Richter Scale. The epicentre was near to the town of Strazhitsa, which is only about 10 miles away from us as the crow flies. For anyone who might think that there are no really serious quakes here, this one caused 3 fatalities, more than 30 injuries and left more than 3000 homeless. Power and water supplies were disrupted in the town and the surrounding area. It was estimated that over 80% of the buildings in the area were damaged, with 1370 homes either destroyed or severely damaged. Many Bulgarians were rehomed as a result, and the town having a newer look to it than most others in the region. In a populated area a quake of scale 5 can cause considerable damage, one of scale 6 can cause severe damage. This isn't the biggest quake to hit the immediate area either, but that is further back in history.

I told you not to smoke after eating beans
Some say that the quake that struck Gorna Oriahovitsa way back in 1913 was somewhere between 7 and 7.5 on the Richter Scale. Whatever the magnitude it certainly made a bit of a mess, as can be seen from this old black and white photograph. So with all of this seismic activity I checked on our insurance policy and we are covered for earthquake damage amongst other things. Not something that used to really concern me back in the UK. Something else that you wouldn't really think about in the UK is how you would go about surviving such an event. If you are indoors the easy thing to remember is Drop, Cover and Hold. The following is a link to and is a more comprehensive guide to what actions you should take if you do get caught up in one. Which we all hope will not happen.

As I said in the opening piece, the Romanian quake of this morning didn't even wake us up. So do not let the 'possibility' of an earthquake put you off of a potential move to Bulgaria. Yes there are tremors, but for the most part you might not notice them, and we have yet to experience a full quake in the back of beyond since we have been here. I shall just say that our house was built in 1928, and is still standing and showing no ill effects. The house next to  us in the UK looked worse as bomb damage from the war had cracked a lintel over one of their windows and it was still standing when we left.


  1. I notice that a Ukranian Seismologist is today caiming that a scale 10 quake could hit Bulgaria. I hope not as that might make me spill my coffee