Monday, 30 May 2016

Magnitude 1.3 Earthquake in the northwest Highlands.

The British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 1.3 Earthquake at a depth of about 7 km about 5 km to the southeast of the village of Gairloch in the northwest of the Highland Region of Scotland, at about 5.10 am British Summertime (about 4.10 am GMT) on Monday 30 May 2016. This was not a major event, and presented no threat to human life or property, but may have been felt locally.
 The approximate location of the 30 May 2016 Gairloch 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 Wales being more prone  to quakes than the rest of Wales or most of England.

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... 1.3 Earthquake in the Highland Regionof Scotland.                                 The British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 1.3 Earthquake at a depth of about 3 km about 2 km to... 1.3 Earthquake near Glencoe, Scotland.                                             The British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 1.3 Earthquake at a depth of about 10 km about 5 km to the west of Glencoe in the district of Lochaber in... 2.2 Earthquake to the south of Loch Shiel, Scotland.                              The British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 2.2 Earthquake at a depth of about 11 km to the south...
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