Rare M4.4 earthquake hits Reunion, one of the largest on record


A rare earthquake measuring M4.4 on the Richter scale hit 23 km (14 miles) NW of Saint-Denis, Reunion at 17:00 UTC on September 21, 2020. RNS is reporting a depth of 27 km (17 miles).

  • This is the largest earthquake to hit the island since 1979 when Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory (OVPF) set up and started detailed observations.
  • The quake lasted a couple of seconds and was preceded by a dull noise. It did not cause any damage or injuries.

According to Aline Peltier, OVPF director, a fault opened 22 km (13.6 miles) from the island in a particularly seismic zone.

At a depth of 27 km (16.8 miles), this fault caused an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.4 on the Richter scale, and its opening was very strongly felt by the population, Peltier said.

We have never had such a strong earthquake since the Observatory set up facilities on the island in 1979, Peltier added. 

"If we go back to the beginning of the colonization of the island by humans, we had 14 earthquakes greater than yesterday, so this is a fairly major event."

This was a fairly strong magnitude for Reunion Island, which is located in the middle of a plate, considered to have a rather low seismic risk, but it is an area which is affected by earthquakes on a regular basis.

This area is therefore known to have faults that reactivate.

Regional seismicity

Featured image credit: EMSC


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