Destructive Crete quake followed ‘unusual’ activity, says scientist


Scientists were surprised by Monday’s 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Arkalochori, in Iraklio on Crete, which is estimated to have been the culmination of a prolonged and unusual seismic sequence that began a few months ago.

One person was killed and at least 20 injured, while homes and churches were damaged. It also caused rock slides near the country’s fourth-largest city.

“The quake was preceded by continuous seismic activity that started about four months ago and yielded a 4.7 magnitude earthquake in early summer, which damaged many buildings,” Filippos Vallianatos, professor of geophysics at the University of Athens, told Kathimerini.

After the 4.7 quake, he said, there followed a long sequence, which instead of ending, yielded occasional clusters of earthquakes and then stopped completely. “In other words, it was unusual seismic activity. Most likely, the 5.8 Richter was the culmination of the previous sequence,” he said.

Tellingly, Monday’s earthquake also changed long-held perceptions about Crete, which until recently was considered to be prone only to undersea quakes, and therefore protected.