We’ve experienced a couple of earthquakes over the last few weeks, one a couple of days ago in Yorkshire, and another last month in Cumbria. I didn’t feel the earth move with these most recent ones, and, for that matter, I’ve not really noticed any of the others that have affected us for some time.
However, on 27th February 2008, there was an earthquake in Lincolnshire which I did feel. I had just settled down in bed, on my side, ready to go to sleep when I noticed a faint rumbling noise. I then noticed that I was rocking very slightly from side to side – I say slightly, but a lot quicker than if I was rocking myself. I instantly knew it was an earthquake. Rather than rocking, I think rippling would be a better way to describe the feeling. After I had regained my senses, I shot up out of bed, dashed to my TV, and switched on BBC News, who were reporting the earthquake in one of their ‘Breaking News’ pieces. I then logged onto the internet, and registered with the USGS site that I had felt it.
Back in 2002 I wasn’t as ‘lucky’ (if feeling an earthquake could be described as lucky…). 21st October 2002 and for a few days after that, a series of earthquakes struck the Manchester area. Over a hundred earthquakes struck the city and surrounding areas. I live just up the road from there, and didn’t feel a one…! The Manchester sequence is known as a swarm, earthquakes clustered in time and space without a clear distinction of main quakes and aftershocks, which occur quite frequently, apparently.
Earthquakes also occur frequently in England and the rest of the UK, but we are very lucky compared to the magnitude of some of the quakes that affect other countries.
I always think of the quake that I felt in 2008, which only lasted about ten seconds, and the rippling effect of it, and just how much damage could be done by something being shaken that rigorously if the quake was stronger and longer. Those ten seconds seemed a lot longer to me at the time, so for those affected by a strong earthquake they must feel as though time has stopped. I suppose that is one reason why I should feel lucky I live where I do.
The strongest earthquake ever felt in the UK was in 1931; it measured 6.1 on the Richter Scale and was felt throughout the land, and also in France and Belgium. Its epicentre was in Dogger Bank, out to sea off the North East Coast. For some reason, I didn’t feel this one either.
We are not prepared for the weather. Are we prepared for earthquakes, considering their frequency? I’m sorry to say that I don’t think so… let’s not wait and see in this case…