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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Quakes 'could last for years'
Firefighters assessing the minimal damage caused by the quakes
Damage to buildings was said to be minimal
The series of earthquakes which have struck Manchester could last for years, experts have revealed.

The warning comes as another tremor hit Manchester on Wednesday taking the number of quakes to shake the region to 19.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) revealed the latest earthquake struck at 0253 BST and measured 2.8 on the Richter Scale.

"We received several calls from people saying they had felt the earthquake or that houses were shaking," said BGS seismologist Bennett Simpson.

Earthquake swarms

"We are now up to 19, of which 11 have been over two on the Richter scale and felt by many people in the Greater Manchester area.

"It's all very interesting and could carry on for some time yet."


It looks like this earthquake is slowly releasing its energy. It's not one big bang

Julian Bukits, British Geological Survey
The earthquakes are part of an unusual phenomenon called "earthquake swarms".

Whilst earthquake swarms are unusual, they have occurred before in the UK.

"Such activity can continue for periods ranging from weeks to years," a BGS spokesman said.

But he added there was no real cause for concern.

"The UK is not located near a plate boundary, where destructive earthquakes measuring more than 7.0 on the Richter Scale can occur.

"It also has no history of catastrophically destructive earthquakes. Thus such swarm activity should not be interpreted as a precursor to a large destructive earthquake."

'Distinctive and unusual'

On Wednesday a stretch of road in Greater Manchester was closed after a crack was discovered, leading to speculation it could have been caused by the tremors.

But council officers said there was no evidence to link the crack, on the A6144(M) Carrington Spur, which joins the M60 west of Manchester to the earthquakes.

A Richter scale read-out of the first quakes in Greater Manchester
Nineteen tremors have struck the area

The first earthquake was felt at 0845 BST on Monday, and measured 3.2 on the Richter scale.

At 1242 BST the same day Greater Manchester felt the biggest tremor to hit the area so far - measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale.

There have been a number of smaller tremors since then.

The epicentre is in Manchester city centre and the tremors have been felt as far away as north Cheshire, Rochdale and Warrington.

Julian Bukits, from the BGS, said: "It looks like this earthquake is slowly releasing its energy.

"That's what makes the experiences in Manchester different. It's not one big bang.

"It makes it interesting, distinctive and unusual."


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See also:

22 Oct 02 | England
22 Oct 02 | Talking Point
22 Oct 02 | England
15 Oct 02 | England
23 Sep 02 | UK
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