Fault line un­der Chan­nel pro­duces the quakes

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

IN JAN­UARY 2005, af­ter the Box­ing Day tsunami in Asia, we re­ported that ex­perts were warn­ing that Dover and the South East could be af­fected by an earth­quake sim­i­lar to one that oc­curred in 1580.

In fact, Satur­day’s earth­quake was the fifth quake pro­duced by a fault line lo­cated in the Dover Straits.

The first re­ported quake, mea­sur­ing 5.8 on the Richter Scale, was in Fe­bru­ary 1382.

In 1580, the quake mea­sured be­tween 5.3 and 5.9 and had an epi­cen­tre be­neath the Chan­nel.

Calais and Boulogne were flooded, many peo­ple drowned and dozens of boats were sunk by huge waves.

Sec­tions of wall fell in Dover, in­clud­ing the loss of a piece of the cliff and cas­tle wall.

Great swell

At Sand­wich, a gable end fell from the north wing of St Peter’s Church, four arches cracked in St Mary’s Church and part of a chim­ney fell down.

A great sea swell arose in the Chan­nel sink­ing 25 to 30 Bri­tish, French and Flem­ish ves­sels.

About 12 hours later, it was re­ported that 30 houses fell down near Dover and a sec­ond del­uge was re­ported to have drowned 120 peo­ple. Two peo­ple were killed in Lon­don.

Ge­ol­o­gists warned that they could not rule out an­other 1580type earth­quake in the fu­ture, but they said it was im­pos­si­ble to es­ti­mate how soon it might oc­cur.

There were sub­se­quent quakes in this area in 1776 and 1950, which mea­sured about 4 on the Richter Scale – sim­i­lar to Satur­day’s earth­quake. Some peo­ple re­mem­ber a tremor which hit Dover in 1938.

Roger Mus­son, a seis­mol­o­gist with the Bri­tish Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey, said: “We know there is a fault line un­der the Chan­nel and that it pro­duces quakes mea­sur­ing around 4 or 6.

“My fear is that if a 1580 style earth­quake hap­pened again, the dam­age would be much worse be­cause of the huge growth in the pop­u­la­tion.”

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