Tre­mors shake Ar­gyll reg­u­larly

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

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

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