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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Mayo earthquake that rattled windows ‘felt like steamroller’ – seismologist

Michael McHugh

AN OFFSHORE earthquake which rattled windows in an Irish town felt like a steamroller, one international expert has said.

The magnitude four tremor off the west coast of Ireland happened this morning and was the strongest in Britain or Ireland for around two years, a scientist at the British Geological Survey said.

Shifting seabed 37 miles from Belmullet in Co Mayo was not enough to produce high waves never mind a tsunami - but the geoscience centre warned it was significant for the region.

Seismologist David Galloway said it would have been felt in counties Mayo, Galway and Sligo in the far west of the Republic.

"We have been getting reports of the windows rattling, that the shaking felt like a lorry or some vehicle smashing into the back of the house, which is typical of the felt reports of earthquakes," he said.

"One report described it as like a steamroller going down the road."

Mr Galloway said he had not heard of any damage to property and was not expecting any.

"It is quite a small earthquake, it is only significant for the fact that the UK or Ireland does not get the big earthquakes of Italy or Turkey," he continued.

The quake, which happened just before 9am, was the strongest in the area since 1984 when an intermediate tremor of 5.4 was recorded in the Irish Sea.

Similar sized earthquakes have been registered across the British Isles, normally every three to four years.

Micro tremors were felt in parts of north County Donegal in January and March near Buncrana in Ireland's far north-west.

The area where it happened today is in the middle of a plate which is moving further from America, far from a faultline and hence the force was not on the scale of areas where they collide, like California or Japan.

Mr Galloway added: "There would not have been enough dislocation of the sea floor to create any big waves and there is no chance of a tsunami, that is not going to happen.

"It is not a warning of anything bigger to come, we do not usually get the big earthquakes."

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