Image (adapted): Scott Schwartz, licence


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Restless land

The land in Groningen has been restless and buildings have been cracking since the beginning of the gas extraction.

The first officially registered induced earthquake took place in 1986, but the people living on top of the field felt the ground stir years before that.

Curiously, details provided by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) show that the quakes often take place at night.

[cracking sound: Klankbeeld / Freesound]


The First Heavier Quake

Portrait of Meent van der Sluis, hands folded under chin and face visible up to just above the eyes

Meent van der Sluis, geographer, is sure this will not be the last quake.

The NAM brushes Van der Sluis off, just like Willem Meiborg 20 years earlier, calling him an ‘amateur’.

image: Sake Elzinga

Geographer From Assen Links Earthquakes To Gas Extraction

Assen, Tuesday. Geographer drs. M. van der Sluis is convinced that the unexpected earthquake hitting Assen on Boxing Day is the result of the pumping of gas from the natural gas field in Slochteren.

“We’ve never had earthquakes before in the North. And the gas extraction near Slochteren is the only important change in the subsurface in the past couple of hundred years. Therefore, it's very likely that gas extraction has everything to do with the earthquake, and there is a good chance that more quakes will follow.”

Van der Sluis, environmentology teacher at a college in Groningen, wants independent researchers to study the link between gas extraction and earthquakes, because the NAM is biased. The teacher worries about the stability of the salt domes in Groningen and Drenthe, which the NAM intends to use as natural gas storage. “Gas extraction activates the fault lines, which in turn disturbs the domes.”

Spokesman F. Duut of the NAM doesn’t want to respond to such “nonsense”. “This definitely is a fairy tale.”

  • The NAM reluctantly admits that earthquakes as a result of gas exploitation theoretically are possible.

  • The influential Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says quakes up to 3 (Richter) are possible.

  • In a radio documentary aired in 2014 it's stated that houses started to subside as early as 1991.

  • The “Begeleidingscommissie Onderzoek Aardbevingen” (governmental body) reaches the conclusion that earthquakes can, “under certain circumstances”, be induced by gas extraction.

  • The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) makes a bold statement: “The earthquakes are probably caused by gas extraction”.

  • The KNMI takes it up a notch: The relation between gas extraction and earthquakes is “not coincidental”.


Meent van der Sluis says the NAM is stalling.

(it's now almost 20 years later, and the NAM is still stalling.)

February 19th, 1997

2nd big quake, in Roswinkel, 3.4 Richter scale / 3 km depth

August 8th, 2006

3rd big quake: triangle Middelstum, Stedum, Westeremden, 3.5 Richter scale / 3 km depth


Luckily, the seismologists at the KNMI aren't worried (sarcasm) (Video-fragment: RTV Noord.)

Audio Transcript: “The KNMI expects slightly heavier earthquakes to occur, with a maximum magnitude of 3.8 on the Richter scale. But the seismologists aren't worried.”

February 18th, 2009

Quakes or no quakes: “Last year, the amount of gas sold abroad reached a record high.” (NOS, Dutch public broadcaster).

Sold abroad? Indeed, only a small percentage of the gas is used domestically.

August 16th, 2012

“Huizinge” Earthquake

(Huizinge, 3.6 Richter scale / 3 km)

Also, the frequency of smaller quakes is increasing.


Earthquakes as a result of gas extraction occur just below the surface of the earth. A shallow “gas quake” has a lot more impact than a natural earthquake of the same magnitude 20 to 100 km deep.

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