Biggest earthquake in 30 years hits Moidart
AN EARTHQUAKE in Moidart, the biggest on Scotland’s west coast for 30 years, was felt from Tiree up the Great Glen to Inverness, writes Neill Bo Finlayson.
The magnitude 3.8 tremor was recorded by the British Geological Survey (BGS) at its epicentre 5kms below the Moidart peninsula on Friday August 4 at 3.43pm.
The BGS said the earthquake was ‘felt across the west’. A second tremor two minutes later measured 3.4 and an aftershock more than two hours later registered 2.2.
Noel Williams, director of Lochaber Geopark, commented: 'I have experienced a number of earthquakes in Fort William over the years, but the remarkable feature of the one last Friday was there were three separate tremors in Moidart that day. The first two occurred in quick succession about two minutes apart at 3.43pm and 3.45pm. There was a third tremor just under three hours later in the same area. There had also been a separate tremor much earlier the same day near Kingussie.'
The epicentre of the tremors was by Eilean Shona, near Glenuig, on the coast, 30 miles west of Fort William. Although the disturbance in Fort William was not as loud as a tremor which occurred in 2005 near Loch Eil, the rumble seemed to go on for slightly longer.
Two ‘loud rumbles’ were also felt in Mallaig and further south in Fort William where ‘it felt like a helicopter passing’ as computer monitors shook, doors rattled and water bottles shoogled on the table. One resident in Arisaig wrote: ‘Floorboards were shaking and we thought the washing machine must have got out of balance.’
Offering an explanation for the tremors, Noel added: 'Most of the earthquakes in the Highlands are thought to be related to the crust rebounding after the last major ice sheet melted.'
A mapping project recently said more than 4,000 quakes had hit Scotland over the past 50 years, including a 4.4 magnitude quake on Knoydart Peninsula in 1974. Scotland's areas of highest seismic activity are the West Coast from Ullapool to Arran, Clackmannanshire, Midlothian and Dumfries.
Although Friday's tremors reached a magnitude of 3.8ML, it pales in comparison to Scotland's largest earthquake, a magnitude 5.2 ML event which occurred in Argyll in 1880.