South Wales hit by biggest earthquake in three decades
Jun 8 2009 by Abby Alford, South Wales Echo
AN EARTHQUAKE that shook South Wales was the biggest to hit the region in more than three decades, according to experts.
A tremor measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale shook houses and made lights flicker in the Bridgend area, prompting a flood of calls to the police.
The epicentre of the quake, which happened shortly before 9pm on Friday has been identified by experts as Nantyffyllon, near Maesteg in Bridgend county.
Seismologists at the British Geological Survey (BGS) have confirmed it was the largest tremor to hit South Wales since a magnitude 3.8 earthquake struck south west of Merthyr Tydfil on May 23, 1975.
Some of the reports made to the BGS by residents included, “the whole house creaked and it felt like it moved” and “the experience felt like a car had collided with the house”.
Cleaner Michelle Thomas said it was not the first earthquake the Bridgend area has had this month.
The 36-year-old from Bryncethin claims to have felt two other quakes earlier this month.
“On Friday night it was just a little tremor and a light flicker,” she said. “It happened last week and the week before that, so we have had three in the past month. I’m not bothered by it because I’ve been to Turkey and on the outskirts of earthquakes there. These ones are just little tremors.”
A spokeswoman for South Wales Police said: “Members of the public from the Wild Mill and Sarn area of Bridgend reported feeling a tremor. There were no reports of damage or injuries.”
Though South Wales does not sit on a major fault line, earthquakes in the area are not that uncommon.
According to the BGS, between 150 and 200 are detected in all parts of the UK every year and in surrounding waters, though many are so minor they are not felt. Although the nearest boundary in the earth’s crust, or tectonic plates, is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, quakes still occur when stresses within the tectonic plates are relieved by movement on fault planes.
The BGS website said historically, larger quakes with magnitudes ranging from 4.9 to 5.2 have been known to occur further west than Bridgend.
The largest of these was a magnitude 5.2 tremor that hit in 1906 close to Port Talbot.
Known as the Swansea earthquake, it was one of the most damaging quakes to strike Britain in the 20th century.