Scientists mapped over 500 earthquakes around Malta in the last 25 years

University of Malta scientists publish catalogue that helps scientists determine a more accurate seismic hazard map for the islands in this region

Scientists from the Department of Geosciences at the University of Malta have published the first national earthquake catalogue for Malta.

They identified more than 500 earthquakes which took place in the vicinity of the islands between 1995-2014, and were recorded on the only seismic station operating on Malta during this period.

This station, code-named WDD, is located at Wied Dalam, limits of Birzebbugia. Most of these earthquakes were weak and not felt by residents.

The epicentres of the earthquakes are all offshore and most of them are located along the subsea graben systems: deep submarine canyons which separate Malta from Lampedusa, Pantelleria and North Africa in general.

This new data set provides fresh information about the tectonic activity that takes place around the Maltese islands, particularly highlighting the extent of activity of the grabens and other submarine faults.

Dr Matthew Agius, co-author of the publication said: “This earthquake catalogue gives us the first full picture of the seismicity that takes place around Malta, and will help scientists determine a more accurate seismic hazard map for the islands in this region. Since 2014, seven more seismic stations have been installed around the Maltese archipelago, establishing the Malta Seismic Network, meaning that this catalogue will be updated with the processing of more data in the near future”. The article and data set was published on Annals of Geophysics and is available online.

This project was funded by the Italia-Malta Operational Programme 2007–2013 (SIMIT) and INTERREG V-A Italia-Malta Operational Programme 2014 – 2020 (SIMIT-THARSY).