Earthquake swarm near London, UK

Ten seismic events have been detected in the Newdigate, Surrey area of the United Kingdom, between Dorking and Gatwick airports near London, since April 1, 2018. Magnitudes of this cluster of events range from 1.5 to 3.0. There are fears that quakes might be caused by nearby fracking operations.

According to the British Geological Survey (BGS), the ninth and tenth events took place at around 04:00 and 13:30 UTC on July 18 with magnitudes of 2.0ML and 2.6ML, respectively. The quakes hit at a shallow depth between 500 m (1 640 feet) and 2 km (1.2 miles). 

Dr. Stephen Hicks from Southampton University said a 0.4 aftershock had been measured after the second quake.

The strongest quake so far was a M3.0 on July 5. It was felt by more than 800 people who reported it to the BGS.

Residents are expressing fears that quakes are being caused by fracking operations at nearby Horse Hill while oil exploration company UKOG insists that there is no link with the quakes. They claim that work at the site does not involve subsurface drilling and ‘so has little to no seismic impact on the surrounding area.’

“We are seeking to better understand what’s going on,” said BGS seismologist David Galloway.

“We will find out what is the cause. We live on a dynamic planet, but we are looking at the issue of oil exploration in the area to see if it is connected. But it could be entirely natural. Plates move about all the time. They’re bashing and moving away from each other.”

Further work may be able to determine if any connection exists, BGS said. “As an independent and impartial provider of geospatial data, we hope that our continuing high quality real-time seismic monitoring will produce a comprehensive and open data-set. We will continue to analyze this data as the situation develops allowing us and anyone else to investigate the causal factors of these events.”

List of all earthquakes detected by the BGS around the British Isles in the last 50 days can be found at the following link

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Featured image credit: Googe/EMSC/TW

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