Ex­perts taken by sur­prise

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - WHY THE EARTH SHOOK -

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

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