Earthquakes are one of the biggest natural threats in many parts around the world, but what is the earthquake situation like in Norway? Should you be concerned with earthquakes if you ever visit Norway? Let’s take a close look at what the earthquake situation in Norway is like!
Earthquakes that causes damage and destruction are extremely rare on mainland Norway, with the last one happening in 1904. However, there are occasional small earthquakes in the ocean west of Norway that can be felt as a shake in the western part of Norway.
It is estimated that an earthquake that can be felt happens roughly every 10 years on the western part of Norway, but so far none of these has caused any damage or destruction in modern times. They usually feel like a shake that last around 4 – 10 seconds, and are typically not big enough to cause concern for people who experience it.
The epicenters of these earthquakes on the western coast are in the ocean, usually around 100 km or so from shore. This was also the cause when a 5.4 earthquake hit Norway on 21st of April 2022. This was a bigger earthquake than usual, but still didn’t cause any damage to houses on the land.
Earthquakes on Svalbard and Jan Mayen
Norway own the two islands Jan Mayen and Svalbard, both of them being in the middle of the ocean north-west of mainland Norway. This puts them close to the epicenters of many of the major earthquakes that happen in the ocean, and both of these islands experiences earthquakes a lot more frequently than mainland Norway.
The earthquakes on these islands can also be bigger. Svalbard experienced a 6.2 (on Ritchers scale) earthquake in 2008, which is pretty big, but luckily didn’t cause any injuries. Smaller earthquakes on Svalbard are pretty common.
The same can be said for Jan Mayen. This small island is located very close to tectonic plates, and it frequently experiences rather big earthquakes. There are no permanent residents on Jan Mayen, so these earthquakes are typically not really a problem for anyone. There is a scientific station on Jan Mayen, but it has been build with earthquakes in mind.
How to check for earthquakes in Norway
To get updated information about earthquakes that has hit Norway, use the website jordskjelv.no/meldinger. This website is ran by NORSAR, a seismology institute in Norway that specializes on monitoring earthquakes. They publish updated information about any earthquakes that can be felt in Norway, as well as some of the international ones.
The 1904 earthquake in Oslo
Despite earthquakes being very rare in Norway, there are big earthquakes from time to time. The most well-known of these are the 1904 Oslo earthquake.
At 11:27 AM on Sunday, October 23, 1904, the biggest known earthquake on mainland Norway hit. This measured a whooping 5.4 on Ritcher scale, and the epicenter was just some kilometres away from Oslo.
This means that all of Oslo as well as all the surrounding cities felt the earthquake, and buildings and infrastructure shook, and some of it was damaged and destroyed. It caused major panic in the city, and there was several after-shakes during the rest of the day.
The famous Johannes kirke in Oslo was severely damaged by the earthquake, and later had to be demolished after it was determined to be impossible to repair it. Despite the big earthquake, no one was believed to be injured or killed from the disaster, so it didn’t really end up too bad.
Should you be concerned by earthquakes when visiting Norway?
The short answer is that you should not be concerned by earthquakes when you visit Norway. Norway is much safer than most places in the world when it comes to earthquakes, and no one has died from earthquakes in Norway for several hundred years.
That said, natural disaster do happen, but not more frequently in Norway. The earthquake that happened in Oslo in 1904 could happen again, and it could be stronger and cause more damage. But no one will be able to predict when or if this will happen.
This has also been the plot for the natural disaster film Skjelvet (The Quake). This features some of Norway’s most famous actors, and is what could be considered a Norwegian blockbuster movie. The movie can be rented on YouTube if you feel like watching a natural disaster movie while also getting a nice view of Oslo being torn to pieces.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.