Scots all shook up as Cumbria earthquake tremors travel north

CHRISTMAS cards toppled and trees wobbled as the tremors from an earthquake rocked parts of Dumfries and Galloway.

The quake, which had a magnitude of 3.5, had its epicentre in Cumbria but tremors were felt up to 60 miles away in parts of south west Scotland.

Dumfries and Galloway Police received calls from people in Dumfries, Newton Stewart and Dalbeattie concerned about the cause of the shaking, which began at just before 11pm on Tuesday and lasted for up to a minute.

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The heart of the quake was the Cumbrian town of Coniston, with the epicentre located nine miles underground. No injuries or damage were reported, according to emergency services.

Alan Mcraeth, a teacher at Kirkcudbright Academy in Dumfries, said: "My wife and I were getting ready for bed when, for three seconds, the whole house began to shake severely. We knew straight away that it was an earthquake but didn't think any more of it until we saw it in the news this morning."

Ian Hill, 44, the head chef of the Pheasant Hotel in Dalbeattie, said he experienced the tremor but was unaware of what had happened. "It lasted for about ten seconds but we've had a problem with the pipes, they had been freezing up, and most of us just thought the banging and the shaking was the pipes ready to burst," he said.

"We were quite surprised to hear it was an earthquake - that's the kind of thing you expect in the Pacific rim - not Scotland".

The earthquake was felt as far away as Lancashire, Northumberland and the Isle of Man. Data from the British Geological Survey (BGS) showed the location of the quake at 1.2 miles north, north-west of Coniston, at a depth of 8.9 miles.

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Dr Brian Baptie, head of seismology at the BGS, said: "We get an earthquake of this size somewhere in the UK roughly every 12 to 18 months. Damage is very unlikely. An earthquake of this size and depth might be felt up to 80 to 100 kilometres away. The earthquake has probably made windows and doors rattle and small objects might have been displaced."

An earthquake of magnitude 3.7 shook South Cumbria on 28 April, 2009.

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Ian Main, a professor of seismology and rock physics, at Edinburgh University, said: "For the tremors to be felt in such widespread destinations, there would have to be some unusual combinations. The magnitude does not always reflect the severity or impact. Several other factors such as how close it is to the surface and site conditions do, too."