A series of earthquakes shook Granada province, in southern Spain, on Tuesday night.
The first two were felt at 9.36pm in Santa Fe and in Chauchina, near the city of Granada, with registered magnitudes of 4.3 and 4.1 on the Richter scale, according to provisional estimates by the National Geographic Institute (IGN).
According to the IGN, a total of around 10 quakes with magnitudes above 2.9 were felt clearly between 9.36pm and 10.18pm in the city of Granada and its metropolitan area, which is home to around half a million people.
Many families fled their homes despite the overnight coronavirus curfew and sought shelter outdoors. “There’s no damage, but we’re scared,” said Granada Mayor Luis Salvador in statements to the Cadena SER radio network. “Since December we’ve had more than 170 quakes. We’ve been told it’s better to have many magnitude 4 earthquakes than one magnitude 8. We’ve been told that this way, the fault gets weaker and prevents a bigger one.”
Andalusia’s emergency number 112 received more than 300 calls from various parts of Granada, and even some from the provinces of Jaén and Málaga.
There is more fear of earthquakes right now than of CovidMar Salas, Santa Fe resident
The Tuesday tremors come on top of a series of quakes to have recently hit the Granada area. There have been over 100 in the last 10 days, the most powerful of which took place last Saturday, when a magnitude 4.4 quake was felt in Santa Fe, just a few kilometers from the city of Granada, causing some damage to homes and other buildings.
“There is more fear of earthquakes right now than of Covid,” said Mar Salas, 35, a resident of Santa Fe who said she went out on the street on Tuesday when she felt the second quake. “We live on the second floor and nothing fell inside our house, but in our company warehouse, part of the office ceiling has collapsed on top of the computers.”
There have been 281 earthquakes in the area since December, out of which eight were magnitude 3.0 or above. Experts are blaming the recent seismic activity on the constant approximation, by four to five millimeters each year, of the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate.
These kinds of movements of the Earth are felt when fault activity creates a domino effect and triggers activity in other nearby faults, explained Jesús Galindo-Zaldívar, a researcher at Granada University.
The constant plate movement has no seismic effect on the surface, but it accumulates energy that periodically gets freed in the form of earthquakes, he said. “On the surface, the places move slowly and continuously, while deep down the movement is not continuous and sometimes creates sudden movements which are the quakes we are seeing now.”
English version by Susana Urra.