Big­gest earth­quake in 30 years hits Moidart

The Oban Times - - Lochaber Times -

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.

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