Tremors shake Argyll regularly
ARGYLL is being hit by an earthquake every 11 days, new statistics show.
Scotland has seen an upsurge in seismic activity, with scientists detecting 142 tremors since the start of 2015 – double the usual frequency.
But Argyll and Lochaber are the nation’s hotspots, with 61 quakes from Ardnamurchan in the north to Kintyre in the south. Since January last year, the island and waters of Mull have seen 13 earthquakes, while Islay has witnessed eight.
There have been four recorded at each of Oban, Strontian and Achallader. Meanwhile, tremors have also been detected at, among other places, Dunoon, Kilmelford, Tarbert, Acharacle, Skipness and Ballachulish.
Earthquakes are caused when masses of rock in the planet’s crust move against each other, often along fault lines. Scotland has dozens of these cracks though they are mostly dormant. Another reason Scotland is afflicted by quakes is that, 20,000 years ago, the country was under a two kilometre-thick sheet of ice. The glaciers melted long ago but the earth below us is still readjusting with some areas – including Oban – rising by two millimetres a year while parts of England are sinking lower.
Those caught in a quake will usually only notice the earth moving if it registers above 1.5 on the Richter Scale, the measure of a tremor’s strength.
Last year, the most violent in Scotland measured 2.4 at Durness in Sutherland, though Strontian saw one of 2.2. In 2016, there have been three of 1.9 at Oban, Loch Goil and Mull. Scotland’s strongest recorded tremor was a 5.2 that hit Loch Awe in 1880.
The British Geological Survey has more than 100 seismograph stations across the UK – including one at Loch Avich, near Taynuilt – all ‘listening’ for quakes 24 hours day with the results collated at its Edinburgh data centre