Editorial | Published:

British Earthquakes

Nature volume 23, pages 117118 | Download Citation



ON Sunday evening last week (28th Nov.) the northern parts of the British Isles were slightly shaken by an earthquake. The recent disastrous earthquake shocks in Croatia have called renewed attention to this still mysterious geological phenomenon, and now, while the subject is still fresh and under discussion, a milder visitation of the same nature reminds us that our islands are not wholly exempt from their share in the pulsations of the terrestrial crust. Save the vague and inexact newspaper paragraphs which chronicle the impressions of different observers, we have no information as to the direction of propagation of the earthquake wave of last week, its duration, relative intensity, and angle of emergence at different localities. It appears to have been one of the usual type of earth-tremors experienced in this country, and to have affected the region which, during the present century at least, has been most subject to such movements. It is reported as having been felt at many points in the central valley of Scotland and in the north-east of Ireland, also along the west coast as far north as the further end of the Long Island. Its effects appear to have been most marked over the area occupied by the crystalline schists. In Bute the house-bells rang. At Oban a portion of the plaster was detached from the ceiling of the parish church during the service of the Sunday-school. At Inverary also some plaster was loosened, and a sensation of nausea and giddiness is even said to have been experienced. At Blair Athole the oil hi the table-lamps was thrown into undulations, which rose over half an inch up the side of the glass. Over the Lowland belt the effects were less perceptible, though they are alleged to have been distinctly felt as far as Edinburgh. By some observers the duration of the shock was estimated at two, by others at ten seconds. In some places the movement was thought to be from the north-west, in others, from the south-west. One of the phenomena duly chronicled in most of the narratives is the jingling and creaking made by crockery and furniture. Such is the usual meagre kind of detail out of which an explanation of the cause of earth quake movements in Britain is in truth hardly possible.

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