What was the biggest earthquake ever recorded in the UK?

I feel the earth move… under my feet (Photo: Getty)

When we hear about earthquakes we often think of them as something that happens in lands far away from us in the UK.

In From the powerful 5.5 earthquake in Turkey on Saturday 25th February to the devastating earthquakes earlier in the month, it seems impossible to think of earthquakes hitting British shores.

But this is not the case. We have earthquakes here, even registering one this weekend (February 25th) which saw homes in Wales shake.

It is believed to have measured between 3.8 and 4.2 on the magnitude scale.

So, although rare, the UK has a history of earthquakes – but what is the biggest earthquake ever recorded in the country?

What was the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the UK?

In June 1931, on Dogger Bank in the North Sea, there was an earthquake of magnitude 6.1.

crack in the road

The biggest earthquake in the UK was in 1931 (Photo: Getty)

The epicenter was 60 miles off the Yorkshire coast, which radically reduced the amount of damage.

The earthquake was felt by several ships in the North Sea and a woman in Hull died of a heart attack, apparently as a result of the earthquake.

How are earthquakes measured?

You might be familiar with the Richter scale that used to be used to measure the strength of earthquakes.

Diagram of seismic activity on the Richter scale.

Earthquakes are registered on the Richter Scale (Photo: Getty)

However, nowadays, the Momentum Scale (MW) is the standard method used to estimate the magnitude of all large earthquakes.

It is based on the size of a fault, the distance it has traveled and the stiffness of the local bedrock.

The Momentum Scale was developed in the 1970s and is a more accurate way to describe powerful seismic activity.

Earthquakes with a magnitude of three or less – such as those in the UK – are almost imperceptible to humans.

The world’s largest earthquake ever recorded occurred in Valdivia, Chile on May 22, 1960, and had a staggering magnitude of 9.5.

It killed 1,655 people, injured 3,000 and displaced two million, in addition to triggering a tsunami with damage felt as far away as Japan, Hawaii and the Philippines.

Japanese city destroyed by an earthquake

Earthquakes can be devastating (Photo: Getty)

Does the UK often have earthquakes?

There are about 15 quakes of similar size to the one felt in Walsall annually and according to the BGS, there are 20-30 earthquakes felt in the UK every year.

There are also a few hundred even smaller earthquakes each year picked up by sensitive machines.

Even noticeable earthquakes in the UK are not known to cause much damage.

The North Sea is more active for earthquakes than mainland Britain, and a magnitude four earthquake occurs approximately every two years.

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