Experts taken by surprise
SATURDAY’S earthquake not only took east Kent residents by surprise but the experts, too.
While earthquakes are impossible to predict in any case, seismologist David Booth of the British Geological Survey revealed that the area was not a typical place for such an event.
He said: “The South East is really quite quiet, so it certainly did surprise us.
“It could happen again, but the likelihood is that it won’t for many years, as the stress that has built up has been released.”
An earthquake is a sudden release of energy in the Earth’s crust.
When the pressure exceeds the strength of the rock, it bursts along an existing or new fault plane.
Mr Booth added: “In an earthquake, the soundwaves arrive first and the ground moves up and down. Then waves hit from side to side, making the building shake.
“Buildings are designed to withstand gravity, but side to side movement is harder, though they are designed to withstand strong winds.”
Aftershocks are a possibility and can be felt for weeks and months afterwards.
Mr Booth said: “We do get aftershocks in the British Isles. A 5.4 earthquake near Wales in 1984 caused a number of aftershocks though they were all smaller than the initial shock.”
The British Geological Society asks Kent residents to tell of their experiences by visiting their website. Anyone who felt Saturday’s quake is invited to help the survey understand it better by filling in the questionnaire at www.earth quakes.bgs.ac.uk/questionnaire