Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Magnitude 0.9 Earthquake in Northumberland.

The British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 0.9 Earthquake at a depth of 4 km, about 4 km to the north of the village of Ponteland in Northumberland, northeast England, at about 8.45 pm GMT on Sunday 1 December 2013. This is a small quake, and there is no danger of it having caused any damage or injuries, in fact it is quite likely that nobody felt it at all or that if they did they would not have recognized it as an Earthquake.

The approximate location of the 1 December 2013 Ponteland Earthquake. Google Maps.

The precise cause of Earthquakes in the UK can be hard to determine; the country is not close to any obvious single cause of such activity such as a plate margin, but is subject to tectonic pressures from several different sources, with most quakes probably being the result of the interplay between these forces.

Britain is being pushed to the east by the expansion of the Atlantic Ocean and to the north by the impact of Africa into Europe from the south. It is also affected by lesser areas of tectonic spreading beneath the North Sea, Rhine Valley and Bay of Biscay. Finally the country is subject to glacial rebound; until about 10 000 years ago much of the north of the country was covered by a thick layer of glacial ice (this is believed to have been thickest on the west coast of Scotland), pushing the rocks of the British lithosphere down into the underlying mantle. This ice is now gone, and the rocks are springing (slowly) back into their original position, causing the occasional Earthquake in the process. 

Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events, and the structures that cause them. If you felt this quake, or were in the area but did not (which is also useful information) then you can report it to the British Geological Survey here.


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