Beginning on Tuesday evening officials recorded no fewer than seven earthquakes on Crete of a magnitude of 3.0 or greater on the Richter scale. This morning, as we were getting ready to file this report, another quake of magnitude 4.8 (USGS) hit a couple of kilometers from Araklochori village at a depth of 15.6 km. Moderate to strong ground shake from the shallow quake was felt here in our offices. Aftershocks from this one are occurring now.
This will, no doubt, stoke residents of the island, particularly those hit hard by the recent magnitude 6.3 event outside Arkalochori, being more apprehensive. Locals worry that these latest tremors are earthquake swarms warning of a more severe seismic event to come. Geologists at the University of Athens registered a 4.3 magnitude event about 33 kilometers southeast of the capital in Heraklion at a shallow depth of 10km. That quake was felt mainly in eastern Crete.
Quakes continued to rattle the region from mid-evening until the early morning hours Wednesday, according to the reports. Altogethere, there have been 14 earthquakes in Crete and the eastern Mediterranean in the past 48 hours. The 4.3 event being the strongest so far.
Most of these occurred in or around the epicenter of the major quake that ruined Arkalochori and other nearby villages. Locals have expressed concerns that blasting for new construction of the Kastelli Airport have caused the reawakening of these earthquake faults.
Six of the most recent quakes have occurred within a kilometer or two of the work going on to expand the old World War 2 airfield built by the Germans. On these concerns, I talked with the owners of the Agelaksi Winery a few kilometers west of the new airport this morning, and they have not heard any construction blasting or other heavy work going on so far.
I also spoke recently with the renowned marine geologist Evi Nomikou about the potential for construction blasting causing these seismic events, and she told me the likelihood is very minute. Dr. Nomikou is in Santorini now studying marine volcanic activity past and present there.