On Wednesday 10 October 2012, slightly before 6.20 am, British Summertime (slightly before 5.20 am, GMT), the British Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 1.8 Earthquake 11 km beneath the northwest of Leicestershire, roughly halfway between the village of Castle Donington and the East Midlands International Airport. This is too small and too deep to have caused any damage and may not even have been noticed by anyone, or, more likely, may not have been recognized as an Earthquake by anyone who did feel it.
Map showing the location of the 10 October Earthquake. Google Maps.
The cause of Earthquakes in the UK is not always immediately obvious, with most quakes being the result of tectonic stresses from a number of different sources. Britain (along with the rest of Eurasia) is being pushed to the east by the expansion of the Atlantic Ocean and to the north by the impact of Africa into Europe from the south. There are also lesser centers of expansion beneath the North Sea, the Rhine Valley and the Bay of Biscay, all of which exert some stress upon rocks in the UK. Finally there is glacial rebound; until about 10 000 years ago much of the north of Britain was covered by a thick layer of glacial ice, which pushed the rocks of the lithosphere down into the underlying mantle. This ice is gone, and the rocks are still, slowly, springing back into place, causing the occasional Earthquake in the process.
Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand the processes going on during these events. If you felt this quake (or were in the area but did not, which is also useful information) then you can report it to the BGS here.
See also Earthquake in Nottinghamshire, Second Earthquake beneath Cheshire, Earthquake in Cheshire, Earthquake in Nottinghamshire and Earthquakes on Sciency Thoughts YouTube.
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