Monday 25 March 2013

Earthquake beneath Loch Maree.

On Sunday 24 March 2013, slightly after 10.00 pm GMT, the British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 2.0 Earthquake 7 km beneath Loch Maree in the Scottish Highlands. This is a small quake unlikely to have caused any damage or casualties, and given its remote location may not have felt by anybody.

The location of the 24 March 2013 Earthquake. Google Maps.

The precise cause of Earthquakes can be hard to determine in the UK, a country which lacks a single obvious source of tectonic activity, and most quakes are the result of the interaction of more than one source of stress. The UK 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 centers of expansion beneath the North Sea, Rhine Valley and Bay of Biscay, all of which exert some stress upon rocks in the UK. Finally there is glacial rebound; until about 10 000 years ago much of the north of Britain was covered by a thick layer of glacial ice, which pushed the rocks of the lithosphere down into the underlying mantle. This ice is now gone, and the rocks are (slowly) springing back into place, causing the occasional Earthquake in the process. This is particularly true in western Scotland, where the Pleistocene ice is believed to have been at its thickest, and which is now the most Earthquake-prone part of the country.

Witness reports of Earthquakes can help scientists to understand these events and the processes that cause them. If you felt this quake (or if you 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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