On Wednesday 12 September, slightly before 6.30 am, local time (slightly before 3.30 am GMT) the United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake 50 km south of western Crete, close to the island of Nísos Gávdos, at a depth of 27.4 km. No injuries or damage have been reported, but the quake is likely to have been felt across most of Crete.
Map showing the location of the 12 September Earthquake, and the areas likely to have felt shaking. USGS.
Crete is located on the southern part of the Aegean Sea Plate, a small tectonic plate caught between the African Plate to the south, the Anatolian Plate to the east and the Eurasian Plate to the northwest. The Anatolian Plate is being pushed to the west by the northward movement of the Arabian Plate to the east, pushing the Aegean Plate south and west into collision with the northward moving African Plate. Part of the African Plate is being subducted beneath the Aegean Plate along the Hellenic Trench, to the south of Crete. This is not a smooth process, as the plates frequently stick together then break apart once the pressure has built up sufficiently, leading to (fairly frequent) Earthquakes.
Map showing the relative positions and movement of the Eurasian, Aegean, Anatolian, Arabian and African Plates; the Eurasian Plate is actually moving northward, but relative to the other plates in this image, it is moving southward. Univeriteit Utrecht.
See also Earthquake off the Turkish coast, A new study of the Santorini eruption that destroyed ancient Minoa, Dodecanese Islands and Crete shaken by Earthquake, Earthquake in the Gulf of Corinth, Greece. 7 August 2011 and Earthquakes on Sciency Thoughts YouTube.
Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.