The third biggest earthquake ever in Groningen occurred early Wednesday morning, due to gas extraction happening close by.
Around 5:45 AM on Wednesday, an earthquake, 3.4 on the Richter scale, occurred in the Dutch province of Groningen.
The quake originated at a depth of about three kilometres under the village of Westerwijtwerd, Loppersum. Hundreds of people were woken up and startled, but there are no injuries.
According to a seismologist from the Dutch meteorological service KNMI, the shock was among the top three ever in Groningen. There is a large natural gas field in the area used for fracking (injecting liquid at high pressure into the earth to force open existing fissures and extract gas), which has been the cause of an earlier earthquake in 2012 as well.
“The whole gas in Groningen thing was great when we started it in the late 1950s and Groningen was the energy province of the whole of the Netherlands. However, since 2010 it really has turned into a nightmare,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the Dutch tv-programme Wakker Nederland.
The earthquake in 2012 was the first wake up call for Dutch politicians, after residents of Groningen had been complaining for a while about the impact of the gas extraction, with tens of thousands of reports every year. In 2016, the government decided that a maximum of 25 billion m³ of gas could be extracted, only half of what was normally the case.
After this earthquake, many people want gas extraction in Groningen to be phased out immediately. The King’s commissioner from Groningen, René Paas, also said that gas extraction must be stopped as soon as possible.