Tuesday, 09 February 2016

Biggest earthquake in 174 years hits South Cumbria

THE Evening Mail journeyed to the epicentre of the North West’s largest earthquake in 174 years.

The earthquake struck on the coast at Flookburgh at 11.22am yesterday.

The tremor had a magnitude of 3.7 on the Richter scale and was felt across Cumbria and parts of Lancashire.

Evening Mail reporter David Pickthall tracked down the very epicentre of a record-breaking quake and got full reaction to yesterday’s tremor.

The tremor rumbled around Furness, South Lakeland, Millom and parts of Lancashire after emanating on the coast in Flookburgh at 11.22am yesterday.

The British Geological Survey confirmed the earthquake had a magnitude of 3.7 on the Richter Scale.

That makes it the largest in the region since a magnitude 4.4 earthquake struck Lancaster in 1835, which caused minor damage to the city.

More recently, a magnitude 3 earthquake occurred near Grange in 1993, and a magnitude 2.7 tremor hit Ulverston on October 8, 1997.

Brian Baptie, a seismologist for the British Geological Survey, said the size of yesterday’s earthquake was unlikely to cause any damage, even of a superficial kind.

And the police and fire services confirmed they have received no reports of any damage or injuries since the earthquake, which had a depth of 8.8km, struck at latitude 54.167° North and longitude 3.017 ° West.

Many people who felt the tremor told the Evening Mail that they heard a rumbling followed by a loud explosion.

Expert Mr Baptie offered this explanation: “There are always different seismic waves travelling through the earth and when they reach the surface the energy couples with the atmosphere and generates a sound wave and that’s what people hear. Why they heard two, that’s not clear. But there are two types of seismic waves.”

Earthquakes can be typically followed by aftershocks, and Mr Baptie refused to rule out the possibility.

He said: “There may be aftershocks and there are usually signs associated with them. The bigger the earthquake, the bigger the aftershock and the more of them you get.

“For an earthquake like this, it is going to be quite small, but there may be a few smaller ones. Usually, an aftershock is an order of magnitude smaller than the earthquake. So for an earthquake that’s 3.7 on the Richter Scale, it would be about 2.7. But it’s still possible it could be felt.”

“We get an earthquake of this size every year in the UK. There was an earthquake that measured 5.3 in Lincolnshire last year. They happen reasonably frequently. We just can’t say where or when.”

The British Geological Survey confirmed the epicentre of the earthquake was 5km south-east of Ulverston. A rumble could be felt clearly around the town, drawing residents and shop owners to the streets in a bid to discover what had happened.

But despite the commotion, business owners have told how work continued as usual.

Peter Cotterill, managing director at Oxleys, said: “It had no effect on the daily operations other than it felt like a passing wagon had collided with one of the buildings. It certainly was felt, but we had a good look around and found no damage or ill effects.”

Ulverston town councillor Brian Wilkinson was at home with his wife when yesterday’s drama unfolded.

He said: “I also felt a second, minor tremor, which I heard was 1.8 on the Richter scale. It’s strange because my wife and I were both home today. I was just in the office and thought ‘what on earth was that?’

“The whole house was shaken. We thought that the workmen we are employing had driven their wagon into the side of the house. It was all over inside 30 seconds.”

A Cumbria Fire spokesman said: “We had a couple of calls, but they were more queries than reports, from the Kendal area. We have had no reports of any damage or injuries.”

Job Centre Plus workers in Phoenix House, Barrow, were evacuated for over an hour after tremors shook the building.

One fifth-floor worker told the Evening Mail: “There was a definite shudder and I think it was a precautionary measure as we are a fairly tall building.”

Have your say

It's not unusual as of late for the UK to be having stronger Earthquakes. The North American Plate is pulling away from the Eurasion Plate thus leaving us in the middle and we are bound to feel some effects at some stages. We do have fault lines in the UK and three years ago down at the Coast Road at the Caravan Park we have some tremors that were felt for quite a while. They were only around 1.7 on the richter scale but even so they are happening all the time. A 3.7 Earthquake is rather big for around this area, but I fear that they will get even bigger.

Posted by Lori on 23 March 2010 at 10:30

i was in a music lesson at school and all of my class where scared and we come on here and found out it was a earthquake!!!!!

Posted by Dot on 1 May 2009 at 17:23

View all 4 comments on this article

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