Earthquake shakes the Country – Epicentre 4km north of Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

At shortly before 1am this morning (GMT) an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 struck the United Kingdom.  The epicentre (the point on the Earth’s surface directly above the centre of the earthquake), was 4 kilometres north of the town of Market Rasen, Lincolnshire.

There is one report of an injury, the British Geological Society (BGS) had by 7am received over 1,400 reports from members of the public, the media and the emergency services.  Some structural damage has been caused, chimneys falling off, walls collapsing  close to the epicentral area, but this tremor was felt across a large part of the UK.  Many residents in English and Wales towns were awoken by the shaking, the quake has been felt as far away as southern Scotland.

In this country we are not immune from earthquakes, each year the BGS records around 200, but only about 10% are big enough to be felt by local residents. Fortunately, most of the quakes have epicentres which are offshore.  The largest earthquake recorded in the British Isles took place in 1931.  This quake had a local magnitude of 6.1, but fortunately it was centred on the Dogger Bank area of the North Sea.  Even so, the quake and the aftershocks were powerful enough to cause structural damage to many buildings on the east coast of England.

The precise epicentre of the Market Rasen quake has been calculated to be latitude 53.419 degrees north  and longitude 0.354 degrees west.  It is understood to have taken place approximately 5,000 metres underground.

Earthquakes are monitored by the British Geological Survey, part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).  There is a network of 146 seismometer stations across the UK sending data to the head office based in Edinburgh four times per day.  However, during times of earthquake activity data can be sent on demand and staff at the BGS can access data and analyse results from home.  They are on call 24-hours a day, as scientists don’t know when a quake will strike.

Earthquakes of this magnitude occur approximately ever 30 years or so, in the world there are about 1,300 quakes of this magnitude or bigger each year.  This latest quake is the biggest since 1984, when on the 19th July North Wales was struck by an earthquake that had a magnitude of 5.4.  It too caused structural damage to many buildings with cities such as Liverpool 120 kilometres from the epicentre being affected.

None of the team members at Everything Dinosaur felt the quake (all sound asleep in our beds).  However, one member of staff recalled the Manchester earthquakes that struck in the Autumn of 2002.  A series of tremors were recorded with an epicentre in and around Manchester over a period of five weeks.  The magnitude ranged from 1.1 to 3.9 ML (local magnitude).  In total 106 tremors were recorded, the biggest of which (3.9 ML) hit on October 21st.  Our colleague remembers particular incident very well, as he was travelling in a lift in an office block in the centre of Manchester at the time – very scary.

To read more about the work of the BGS and the latest on this mornings quake you can visit the BGS website.

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