Friday 26 December 2014

Magnitude 2.0 Earthquake in the Lake District, England.

The British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 2.0 Earthquake at a depth of 13 km at the southern end of Thirlmere Reservoir in the Lake District in Cumbria, England, slightly after 8.20 am GMT on Wednesday 24 December 2014 (Christmas Eve). This was not a large quake, and is highly unlikely to have caused any damage or injuries, but may have been felt locally.

The approximate location of the 24 December 2014 Lake District Earthquake. Google Maps.

Earthquakes become more common as you travel north and west in Great Britain, with the west coast of Scotland being the most quake-prone part of the island and the northwest of England being more prone  to quakes than the rest of most of England and Wales. 

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.
(Top) Simplified diagram showing principle of glacial rebound. Wikipedia. (Bottom) Map showing the rate of glacial rebound in various parts of the UK. Note that some parts of England and Wales show negative values, these areas are being pushed down slightly by uplift in Scotland, as the entire landmass is quite rigid and acts a bit like a see-saw. Climate North East.

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.

See also...

The British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 1.8 Earthquake at a depth of 4 km approximately 5 km north of the village of Grasmere, in the Lake District in Cumbria...

Slightly before 6.40 am British Summertime (slightly before 5.40 am GMT) on Sunday 25 August 2013, a Magnitude 2.4 Earthquake at a depth of 5 km occurred beneath the Irish Sea, roughly 25 km off the Lancashire Coast, according to the British Geological...

On Friday 21 March 2013, slightly before 4.15 am, the British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 1.2 Earthquake at a depth of 3 km between Lake Ulswater and Haweswater Reservoir. This is a small quake...

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