Friday, 22 August 2014

Magnitude 3.8 Earthquake in Gauteng Province, South Africa.

The South African Council for Geosciences recorded a Magnitude 3.8 Earthquake in Gauteng Province, slightly before 1.15 am local time on Friday 22 August 2014 (slightly before 11.15 pm on Thursday 21 August GMT). There are no reports of any damage or casualties associated with this event, though many people reported feeling it in the Johannesburg area. The initial quake was followed by two aftershocks, with Magnitudes of 3.2 and 2.0, which occurred roughly one and two minutes after the initial event. 

The approximate location of the 22 August 2014 Gauteng Earthquake. Google Maps.

Earthquakes are rare in South Africa, with only 11 Earthquakes exceeding Magnitude 4.5 recorded since 1966 (when instrumental records begin in the country) making this one of the largest Earthquakes ever recorded in South Africa. The most recent of these occurred on 5 August 2014, and resulted in one death and 34 injuries, mostly in the regions mining industry, and damage to around 600 properties. The area has suffered a number of aftershocks since this event, and todays quakes are also likely to be connected to this event.

Because of this rarity it is hard to make precise judgements about the cause of quakes in South Africa, due to a paucity of data. Northwestern South Africa is close the southern end of the Great Rift Valley exits the continent and passes out under the Indian Ocean. The Great Rift Valley is slowly splitting the African Plate in two allow a line from the Red Sea through Ethiopia, and which includes the great lakes and volcanoes of east-central Africa. This has the potential to open into a new ocean over the next few tens of millions of years, splitting Africa into two new, smaller, continents; Nubia to the west and Somalia to the east.

Witness statements can help geologists to understand Earthquakes and the geological processes that cause them; if you felt this quake (or if you were in the area but did not, which is also useful information) you can report it to the South African Council for Geoscience here.

See also...

The South African Council for Geoscience...

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 4.9 Earthquake at a depth of 5 km close to Klerksdorp in northern Free...

A Magnitude 4.7 Earthquake was recorded at a depth of 5.0 km, roughly 50 km to the west of Barberton in Mpumalanga Province...

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