Earthquake – France

Moderate very shallow earthquake in Alpes de Haute-Provence, France

Last update: February 27, 2012 at 9:19 am by By 

Earthquake overview : Shortly before midnight a moderate but very shallow earthquake struck the French Southern Alps.  The earthquake was felt from the Alps ski areas down to the French Mediterranean coast

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 4.7
UTC Time :  Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 22:37:56 UTC
Local time at epicenter :  Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 11:37:56 PM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) :
Geo-location(s) :
5 km E Crévoux (pop 111)
41 km S Briançon (pop 11,577)
92 km (57 miles) SW of Torino, Italy
102 km (63 miles) SE of Grenoble, France

Update 09:15 UTC :  After having called the mayors office of Embrun, one of the bigger cities in the direct epicenter area, can confirm that NO serious damage has been inflicted (only reports of fallen objects in the local press), NO roads have been blocked by rockfall or landslides and NO dangerous avalanches have been reported in the ski areas.

Update 08:29 UTC :  – The French seismological servicehas received a lot of calls marking a max.  MMI intensity of IV (light shaking). has also received an important number of experience reports indicating a max. intensity of V, an acceptable margin in between both.
– Our own France-Only list has noticed 3 aftershocks since the mainshock. They had Magnitudes of 3.7, 2.4 and 3.3
– The intensity values that we have noticed are normally not generating any damage. Additionally we know that people who are not used to earthquakes are slightly exaggerating the intensity.
– Another important effect in weakening the shaking near the epicenter is the soil who is mainly composed of rock. Rocks are weakening an earthquake wave considerably. Epicenter area and valleys at 50 km or more from the epicenter have therefore almost the same shaking values.
– Main risk with earthquakes in mountainous areas are landslides and avalanches. We are 100% sure than a lot of rockfall will have been noticed in the direct epicenter area, not necessarily leading to damage.

Update :  The epicenter was located very close to Crévoux

Update :  We are very curious to find out more details  during daylight tomorrow. As the epicenter is right in the ski-areas in the French and Italian Alps, avalanches are very well possible, especially because of the huge amounts of snow currently in the area.

Update :  The epicenter has been located almost on the Italy / France border. Some agencies are reporting the Italian side of the border being the epicenter,, others the France area.

Landscape at Guillestre, very close to the epicenter – image courtesy Stig Ekelund

Update La terre a tremblé à Crévoux, à 16 km au nord est de Barcelonette, ce soir à 23h37 précises, selon le site du Commissariat à l’énergie atomique (CEA). Ce séisme de magnitude 4,9 sur l’échelle de Richter a été ressenti dans le Var, les Alpes-maritimes et même Marseille où de nombreux habitants ont senti la secousse durant 3 à 4 secondes. Il faut remonter à 1997 pour retrouver une amplitude équivalente dans cette région montagneuse des Hautes-Alpes. (source :

Update :  The earthquake has also been felt very well in South Western Italy, from the Alps until the Mediterranean coast.

Update : The nearest villages are : Guillestre (10 km), Embrun, Chateauroux les Alpes and Jausiers.

Update : The EMSC numbers are annoying as they can implicate minor damage in villages close to the epicenter. Especially the extremely shallow depth of 2 km means that the shaking (explosion) must have been felt and heard hard by people in these villages.

Update : The other seismological agencies reported the following data :
EMSC :  Magnitude 4.8 and 2 km depth
GEOFON : Magnitude 4.6 at 10 km depth

Shortly before midnight a moderate but very shallow earthquake struck the French Southern Alps.  The earthquake was felt from the Alps ski areas down to the French Mediterranean coast

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