A shaky story

Wanna listen to this rather than read? Click here: A shaky story

We woke up that morning a bit shaky and shaken. There were not many things in the apartment we slept in as it was being sold at that time and all we really had left in there was a mattress, old sofa, a table and some basic stuff in an old kitchen and bathroom.

Maminka rang to say that there was an earthquake during the night.

I said: what??? An earthquake in Czech Republic?

Yea, it’s nothing new here. One day I woke up to see the furniture slide around and you could feel the block swing. – she said.

Okay, that was new to me. But oh how exciting! We quickly ran out into the grocery shop opposite from the block we were in. A huuuuuuge but huuuuuge masacre housing hundreds upon hundreds of rabbit cages filled with humans. A brilliant communist invention. But at least these apartments were real well designed. They are extremely spacious and in fact comfortable. See an example below (not the one we were in):

Source: internet

So maybe they were a disastrous idea size-and-shape-of-the-entire-edifice-wise, but other than that you cannot compare any of the blocks built today to them, comfort-wise.

At the shop we ran straight to the cooling area where rows of freshly made chlebičky were screaming at us: eat me!

You cannot resist chlebičky. It’s a slice of a baguette cut diagonally and topped with the yummiest of foods possible; fresh salads, butter, cheeses, hams, and each one differs from the others. Look here and drool.

Back in, we had some coffee and got ready for a short ride visit to our friend who back then purchased a house in a pretty village, just off the border with Germany, not far from a town of Aš, called Krasna which literally translates a “pretty”.

And pretty it truly is. Surrounded by thick forests of healthy tall trees and plenty of places where geologist souls would hop for joy learning about the rich geological deposits that can be found in the region.

Tomaš was expecting a baby. His wife sadly had to spend the last months of pregnancy in the hospital and he used this opportunity to renovate the house they just acquired.

We arrived in the afternoon. He showed us around and we loved every bit of the work he’d done there. We then sat down in the living room and enjoyed exchanging our stories from the times when we have not seen each other.

The sofa was L shaped. The guys were sitting to my left. A large window behind them. In front of me, a beutiful kitchen annex, to the right a fireplace, entrance door and a big old fashioned clock cabinet. Behind us, staircase leading to an upstairs attic style bedrooms.

Suddenly, somewhere in the left hand side corner where the kitchen annex started, an extremely strange noise occured.

It was constant and nearing. Going straight onto us. The sound resembled an aircraft perhaps or an extremely large vehicle with its engines roaring but on top of that with an added sound of something that felt like it was being dragged along the ground. Or imagine a huge roaring giant being dragged with speed of light accross the Smurfs’ village. You’re a Smurf.

We looked at Tom in crazy fear and he was sitting there and sipping his coffee with a little smirk on his face. Clearly nervous but nothing like us.

I knew it was the earthquake coming. My brain started to think where to go, how to hide. Not in a panicky way though. I am not sure my brain fully accepted what was going on. If you were ever pregnant and then giving birth, it’s a similar feeling to that. You kinda don’t really believe it is happening but you just go with it. There was no time to do anything.

A huge invisible something passed under our feet with an excruciating noise and I felt for a while that I was afloat. Perhaps we were indeed lifted into the air with the power of this thing. The clock banged to my right. I was only staring at the freshly painted walls expecting to see them cracking.

But no such thing happened. We started breathing again, sitting in silence and still waiting as if for another one perhaps. Unsure whether to move off, not to cause something to fall on us.

Tomaš smiled gently: the epicentre is only 700 metres or so away. – he said. Gases explode inside the mountains. It’s been like this for a while now. When my wife went to the hospital and I was left alone, it happened at about 1am. I woke up and ran out into the garden screaming in the middle of complete darkness, having no idea what was going on. I thought the war had started and that it was a bomb. In the morning I spoke to the neighbors. We had no idea this was happening here when buying a house. But maybe it is just a one off occurance and will never repeat, who knows.

We didn’t know what to say. Well, it’s Nature that rules after all, not humans as we like to think. We simply kept on chatting until the evening fell and it was time to go back.

The quake’s epicenter was in a nearby Novy Kostel, a village in the north-western Czech Republic, 10 minutes drive from the German border, 144 km from Prague and 33km away from Karlovy Vary.

Later on, we read that it was 4.2 on the Richter’s scale. Sadly, looks like only 2 days later it repeated for Tom, with the magnitude of 4.1. Both were marked as Very Strong in the area he lives in. Around the epicentre itself they were marked as destructive:

People were calling police for help claiming the floors were shaking. In the Střibna region, there were cracked walls and a few chimneys fell, causing structural damages to the properties.

Apparently the quake was very shallow, only about 10 km underground.

I highlighted the places on the below map: Krasna, where we were is to the far left, in between a piece of Germany and to the right, the epicentre at Novy Kostel. We stayed in the Loket area, on the right edge of this map snip.

Source: google maps

Sadly, 6 years later, the strongest earthquake in the region in, back then, 100 years according to the Czech Seismology Centre occured in the very same spot. This one was 4.5 ML, it lasted for 8 minutes and caused damages to the value of over 10 mln Czech Crowns.

Source: internet
Here measured at place called Křižovatka, Source: internet

It was the strongest earthquake in Germany in many years too. Of course Bad Brambach, being only around the corner was affected most but the quakes could be felt at the regions of Bavaria, Saxony, Anhalt and Thuringia.

The previous quake, during that month, which had its epicenter in Germany was justified by alleged pressure between the european and african litospheric plates.

I, of course spent some time, after my quake, looking into the matter and it seems that it all is linked with so called Trans-European Suture Zone. It is a zone of contact of the Eastern European craton with the Paleozoic platform, with a length of over 2000 km, crossing the European continent from the northwest to south-east – from the British Isles to the Black Sea. On the below map you see it in the shades of blue. STZ, TEF and TTZ are parts of the Trans-European Suture Zone:

Source: internet

In the Paleozoic era, especially in the Polish part of the Trans-European Suture Zone (TTZ, approx. 100-150 km long part), unusual and very complex structures had emerged within the Earth’s lithosphere. This part of the Suture Zone is therefore a natural and very unique source for the world geological researches.

A series of international seismic experiments ran on a huge scale had been carried out since 1997 under the following names: POLONAISE’97, CELEBRATION 2000, ALP 2002 and SUDETES 2003 in the Central Europe on the initiative and under direction of Polish scientific institutions. The latter one concentrated on the parts belonging to the Bohemian Massif, which is situated on the Czech side.

Source: internet

Such researches are of course extremely costly, mainly due to the complexity of the tasks to be undertaken. They often require extensive international cooperation and complex technology which may have to be transported between the countries. These were attended by more than 30 institutions from 15 European countries (Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey) which are situated within the area with the largest contrasts in the construction of the lithosphere of the European continent, and North America (Canada and USA) that have great interest in geological studies of such unusual areas of the world in preparation for their own project “The Array”.

If you hover over each experiment’s name listed above you will find articles related to them. There are specific information regarding the numbers of scientists, technicians, seismic stations and areas which took part in each of them. And for example in the CELEBRATION 2000 (that stands for: Central European Lithospheric Experiment Based on Refraction), which was the largest of them all, with over 1000 geophysicists, engineers and technicians, using 1240 seismic stations (about 70% world resources) and about 150 shot points generating seismic waves. It lasted one month and covered around 700’000 km2 accross 8 countries.

Seismic experimental studies use elastic waves as a research tool. They are artificially excited by explosives in boreholes. These longitudinal waves propagate at speeds from 2-3 km/s in near-surface layers, to about 8.5 km/s in the lower lithosphere at a depth of about 100 km. These waves are recorded by seismic stations spaced along the profile lines even in distances up to 1000-1500 km from excitation points.

Research results achieved with these methods form the basis for many specializations in the field of sciences of Earth and are of outstanding strategic importance, both for basic research and application. Analysis of recorded seismic waves in such a measuring system allows to determine the structure and tectonophysical properties of the lithosphere up to a depth of 100 km. Thanks to extreme amounts of work, hi-tech aparatus and modern methodology, it was possible to visualize the lithosphere of Central Europe in a totally new manner. Tons of new evidence has been produced to show the world previously unknown.

(based on: Prof. A. Guterch Instytut Geofizyki PAN, prof. M. Grad – Instytut Geofizyki na Wydziale Fizyki UW)

But what causes these quakes in the West Czech Republic? Are they really gas explosions within the mountains?

According to the general data, majority of the Czech quakes, including the one I experienced, have the tectonic background. Bohemian Massif is a so called tectonic dislocation or tectonic deformation meaning that it was created in the process of moving rock masses within the earth’s crust, occurring under the influence of tectonic movements along a certain surface or narrow zone. It constitutes, along with the Eastern European platform, the very foundation of European continent.

Due to large amounts of mines in the area, some quakes, of not major strength, are caused by the mine shock. These however may and do result in the human fatalities and injuries. Between 2004 and today there were 10 deaths and 5 injuries recorded.

And finally, and also happening more frequently recently, earthquake swarms. These are a sequence of seismic shocks occurring in the area within a relatively short period of time, may be days, months, or years. In earthquake swarms, no single earthquake in the sequence is obviously the main shock. In particular, a cluster of aftershocks occurring after a mainshock is not a swarm.

Source: internet

Today, when I write it, on the 02.03.2022, Novy Kostel seems super quiet:

But when you look at the archived data for the 10.10.2008, you will also notice plenty of peace and quiet until it suddenly goes higher and higher and then boom! The below snip shows only a short period from that day’s data. The very last column stands for the ML – the magnitude.

Anyone who is an ignorant of the powers that Mother Nature posesses over humans, should stop and re-think. We are not the belly bottons of our Planet Earth. She was very kind to produce us, humans and provide for us for so many centuries. Perhaps quakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, etc. are only caused by her breathing, sneezing, coughing and farting. We may really only be those Smurfs that perched on its surface.

But we do tease her more and more often, tickling her under the nose with the heavy feathers of exhaust fumes of all sorts, poking holes in hery body with enormous drills and explosives, pluck huge patches of green lush rainforests that are there to protect her most delicate parts. She may not be acustomed to waxing and other cosmetic treatments we created for ourselves. And without such green hairy patches she may start catching viruses and it looks like she in fact does.

Speaking of no limits is an idiot talking. Our bodies do have limits. You may cross them, but you may as well end up there and then finding out this was the one. Same with our Planet.

I do not wish us earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, storms, tornadoes or fires because I would not like to experience it again. Ever. But I speak for myself.

Mother Nature may have something more to say to us. Will we listen to hear though?



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