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Building with crags high resIt isn’t everyday that we get an earthquake in Britain, though it may be more common than most of us think! The earthquake centred on Ulverston in Cumbria on the 29th April makes us all realise just how dynamic the crust of the Earth is, even in a highly stable area like Britain. Many folks immediately try to relate an earthquake to a major fault, being used to thinking about earthquakes in the context of the San Andeas Fault and other major fractures in the Earth’s crust. But the important bit of information from the Ulverston earthquake was that it was about 8.8km deep. That’s a long way down and it is very difficult to identify any deep structures that might be associated with an earthquake.

Most big earthquakes are associated with plate boundaries, the large rigid plates of crust that make up the surface of the Earth. Here in Scotland we are well away from any plate boundary but we can still get small earthquakes that result from the release of stresses within our plate. Many of the small earthquakes felt in Scotland are along the geological structure known as the Ochil Fault to the south of the Ochil Hills but small earthquakes are felt all around Scotland. One of the earliest scientific buildings devoted to detecting earthquakes in Scotland is at Comrie. Earthquake House was built in 1874 to investigate earthquakes along the Highland Boundary Fault which spearates the Highlands of Scotland from the Midland valley. Over the years a variety of seismographs have been installed to monitor earthquake events and today modern equipment links into a world-wide network through the work of the seismologists in the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh