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Seismic monitoring is relevant to all countries within the Baltic Sea Region



Yesterday, on the 10th of September, the international workshop devoted to seismicity of the Baltic Sea Region and of the adjacent territories started in Vilnius. It was held by the Lithuanian Geological Service (LGS) under the Ministry of Environment and by the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. The three-day workshop was arranged for seismologic experts from countries of the Baltic Sea Region: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, also the United Kingdom, Belarus and Russia. Their presentations and discussions aimed to describe the status and prospects of seismic observations in those countries, share know-how and discuss further co-operation.

According to Deputy Director of LGS Jonas Satkūnas, seismic phenomena are not a single-country concern as they affect the entire region. They must therefore be monitored and assessed on a broader territory in co-operation with neighbouring countries' and international networks for seismic monitoring.

Earthquakes occur due to activated tectonic fractures of the Earth's crust. Although from this point of view Lithuania is relatively safe, according to the available figures, 40 earthquakes occurred in the Baltic Sea Region and the adjacent Belarusian territory since 1616. Their intensity in the epicentre scored 5-7 points.

In our country seismic observations started in 1970 when a seismic station was built at the Physics Institute in Vilnius. Its operation discontinued in 1999, four seismic stations were erected on the outskirts of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. However, in order to accumulate sufficient data about Lithuanian seismic conditions, a targeted permanent network of seismic monitoring is required. The earthquakes which occurred in September 2004 in the neighbouring Kaliningrad District showed that such earthquakes with damaging effects on buildings can also occur in our country as Lithuania has a very similar subsoil structure.

Establishment of the continuously operating network of seismic stations is planned in the Lithuanian Programme for the Assessment of Seismic Conditions for 2007-2010 approved last September by the Government. The programme provides for the commitment to ensure permanent observations of seismic activity. These observations will help identify tectonic structures and zones with increased seismic hazard as well as their seismic potential and activity. Plans are also to compile the seismic hazard map of the country's territory and to indicate the most dangerous zones from the seismic point of view. Jonas Satkūnas says experience from other countries discussed and closer co-operation relationships built during the international workshop in Vilnius will contribute to the implementation of this programme.

Public Information Division, Tel. 266 3660

11 September 2007

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas