Blink and you missed it: Norfolk's quake

RICHARD BATSON There was an earthquake off north Norfolk just a few days ago. But you, and even the Cromer crabs scuttling about their seabed business, probably never noticed it.

RICHARD BATSON

There was an earthquake off north Norfolk just a few days ago. But you, and even the Cromer crabs scuttling about their seabed business, probably never noticed it.

Experts have logged the quake, which they describe as a routine geological hiccup, 60 miles offshore in the southern North Sea.

It happened at 9.15am on December 30, and measured 3.1 on the Richter scale - providing one of very few red dots around East Anglia on the British Geological Society's earthquake map.

Society seismologist Julian Bukits said the quake was nothing to worry about as there were 200 a year in the UK, and only 10pc were felt by members of the public.

The Indonesian earthquake which caused the tsunami was 9.1 - so a 3.1 occurrence, which happened about three times a year in the UK, was “nothing”, he added.

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Earthquakes tended to be concentrated in north west Scotland, north west England and Wales. Dumfries in Scotland also suffered a 1.7 rumble on December 30, following a 3.6 quake on Boxing Day.

However East Anglia was not a very active area for earthquakes, said Mr Burkis who described the latest North Sea one was “just a hiccup, and down to the geology of a changing planet.”

The worst in the region was a 4-strength one which lasted up to a minute at Norwich in 1994 - when the EDP reported people as far away as Thetford and Winfathing feeling a “rumble”, “massive explosion” and “elongated bang”.

Records also show a 2.7-strong, 10-second quake at Reedham on January 1 1995, and a 2.1-scale, 2½- second one at Wells on June 6 1988.

Mr Bukits also assured that all the offshore energy installations in the North Sea were built to withstand much higher grade quakes.

Britain's biggest ever quake was a 6.1 event on June 7 1931 75 miles off Yarmouth in the Dogger Bank area, with damage including cliff falls at Mundesley and church spire top spun around at Filey in Yorkshire.

The known death toll from UK quakes is 11, mostly from falling rocks, masonry and shock, with the most recent at Criccieth in Wales on December 12 1940 when the casualty fell downstairs.

For more information about earthquakes, including an interactive map, log on to www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk