Groningen hit by another earthquake, locals report ‘muffled bang’

This cafe in Zeerijp has been shored up for years. Photo: Graham Dockery

The north of Groningen was hit by an earthquake of 1.9 on the Richter scale early on Friday morning, the weather bureau KNMI has confirmed.

Locals in the villages of Uithuizen and Kantens reported vibrations, rumblings followed by ‘a muffled bang’ and ‘the sounds of cracks appearing’ in the walls, local broadcaster RTV Noord reported. There have been no reports of damages so far.

Details of the earthquake Source: KNMI

The quake happened three kilometres below the surface, similar to the depth at which gas is pumped up. Gas extraction is being held responsible for a series of earlier earthquakes of similar strength in the area, the latest of which took place in May near Garrelsweer.

The worst earthquake to hit Groningen to date took place in November of last year when the same area suffered a quake measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale.

Production of gas is being wound down in the northern province, but since then residents’ hopes were dashed when the government said it needed to extract 7.6 billion m3 in 2022, twice as much as expected.

Much of the extra gas will be exported to Germany, where around five million homes are connected to the Groningen gas grid, after measures to improve energy efficiency across the border fell short of expectations.

The government may also turn to the Groningen gas fields to make up for the loss of Russian imports, which account for 20% of the Dutch gas reserves.

More than 1,000 quakes of up to 3.6 on the Richter scale have hit the province since 1986, damaging homes and businesses. A public enquiry was started in June this year to look into exactly why the exploitation of the massive gas field under the northern province discovered in 1959 has led to so much damage and investigate who is responsible for the costs.

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