On Friday 18 January 2013 at 5.20 am, GMT, the British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 2.9 Earthquake at a depth of 13 km in northern Leicestershire, roughly 4 km northeast of Loughborough. This is too small to have caused any damage or casualties, but was felt by large number of people, from as far away as Derby, Leicester and Nottingham.
Map showing the epicenter of the 18 January 2013 quake, and the locations of people who reported the feeling the quake. British Geological Survey.
The exact cause of Earthquakes in the UK can be hard to determine. The country is not close to a single overriding source of tectonic stress such as an active plate margin, but rather is subject to stresses from a variety of different causes, with most quakes probably caused by a combination of pressures from more than one source.
Britain, along with the rest of Eurasia, 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. There are also lesser areas of expansion beneath the North Sea, the Rhine Valley and the Bay of Biscay, all of which exert some pressure on the rocks of the UK. Finally there is glacial rebound; much of the north of the UK was covered by a thick layer of glacial ice until about 10 000 years ago, which pushed the rocks of the British lithosphere down into the underlying mantle. This ice is now gone, and the rocks are still rebounding into their original, pre-Ice Age position, causing the occasional Earthquake in the process.
Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand the processes 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.
See also Earthquake in northern Nottinghamshire, Earthquake in Herefordshire, Earthquake in Leicestershire, Earthquake in Nottinghamshire and Earthquakes on Sciency Thoughts YouTube.
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