Monday, 9 April 2012

An Earthquake off the coast of Margate, 8 April 2012.

On 8 April 2012, slightly after 2.00 pm GMT (slightly after 3.00 pm British Summertime) the British Geological Survey recorded an Earthquake about 10 km off the coast of Margate, southeast England, at a depth of 5 km. The quake measured 1.9 on the Richter Scale, so it is highly unlikely to have caused any damage or injuries; in fact it is quite likely that nobody felt it at all.

The location of the 8 April Earthquake. British Geological Survey.

The cause of Earthquakes in the UK is always hard to determine, particularly when they are this small (which they usually are). Despite being a long way from any centers of tectonic activity, the country is still subject to several geological forces. Firstly it is being pushed eastwards at 10-20 mm per year by spreading at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Then it is effected by the movement of Africa into southern Europe. This quite often causes Earthquakes in southern and southeastern Europe, as well as uplift in the Alps, but can cause quakes in northern Europe. Then there is still rebound uplift going on in Britain after the last Ice Age; the country was covered by thick glaciers for a long time, which weighed it down, it is still rebounding, albeit at geological speeds. Finally there is limited geological expansion going on in the North Sea, the Bay of Biscay and the Rhine Valley. None of these spreading centers is ever likely to expand to ocean-size, but they do have localized effects, including small Earthquakes.

The British Geological Survey is interested in hearing from people who felt the Earthquake (or didn't, negative data is still information), and can be contacted here.

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