A Slip in the Eurasian Plate Caused a Massive Earthquake in Croatia

A Slip in the Eurasian Plate Caused a Massive Earthquake in Croatia

Croatia was hit by a massive earthquake this morning. The 6.4-magnitude earthquake had an epicentre in Petrinja, 50 kilometres south of Zagreb, the country’s capital, and was also felt in Bosnia and Serbia. This is the biggest earthquake to hit the area since 1880 when an earthquake of similar size stirred Zagreb.

Figure: The area hit by today’s earthquake. Source: U.S. Geological Survey

According to Croatian media outlets, multiple people have died, including at least one child, and buildings and other infrastructures were destroyed. This was the second major earthquake in the last two days, prompting the fear that more could follow.

This Mediterranean area is prone to considerable seismic activity due to the intersection of the Eurasian and the African tectonic plates, and the Adriatic microplate. These pieces of the Earth’s crust are slowlyconverging, causing regular seismic events in the region.

Today’s seismic event appears to result from a near rupture at a (“strike-slip”, see illustration below) fault occurring within the Eurasian plate and not at the boundary of the two major plates, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Illustration: “Strike-slip” faults: a fracture in which the rock slip parallely past one another
Source: https://geologyengineering.com/strike-slip/

M 6.4 – 3 km WSW of Petrinja, Croatia, USGS Earthquake Hazards Program,
Mapping Europe’s earthquake risk, Horizon EU (accessed on 29 December, 2020)
Croatia earthquake: Child killed as rescuers search rubble in Petrinja, BBC (accessed on 29 December 2020.

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