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Published:February 27th, 2008 16:57 EST
Shaky Ground in the UK (English Earth Tremor 5.3 on the Scale)

Shaky Ground in the UK (English Earth Tremor 5.3 on the Scale)

By Glenn James

A little past 1.00 a.m. (Greenwich Meantime), on the morning of Wednesday 27th February 2008, an earthquake hit mainland Britain.

This sounds much more dramatic than it actually was, as it measured only 5.2 on the Richter Scale, and was over in about 10 seconds; but it was the worst earth tremor to be felt across the British Isles for 25 years, and has been described by Doctor Brian Baptie of the BGS as being "A significant Earthquake for the UK." The British Geological Survey said the centre was 8km east of Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, and 22km south west of Grimsby. It was felt as far apart as Carlisle, Nottingham, Worcester, Birmingham, and Cardif.

Where this kind of geological event is concerned, in England are actually incredibly lucky, and we have no cause to complain. This tremor is nothing compared to the grand and traumatic quakes felt in other parts of the world, but if you imagine the effect on a country sitting smack in the middle of a plate and unused to seismic activity, it was a pretty unsettling experience.

Having been asleep for two hours when the tremor hit we were woken violently. Above there was a sound like all the tiles on the roof shifting, and below a noise like an incredibly large and heavy juggernaught heading right for the house: Having reviewed "Cloverfield" recently, for a mad second on waking I thought I would hear the monsters roar, which just goes to show that an active imagination isn't always good for your peace of mind! Immediately we ran to check on our daughter, and must have both leapt through the door like the Pythons "Spanish Inquisition" team, only to discover everything fine and the only thing to disturb her being a slight night cough.

I was outside in my army boots and overcoat with a torch to check if the roof had slid off at about 1.10 a.m. and if our elderly neighbour was okay. Then we did what all English people do in a crisis: Put on the BBC News to see what had happened and made a cup of tea. (Honestly, it really helps!!) Nationally there was only minor structural damage to people's homes, apart from one poor guy whose chimney fell though his ceiling and injured his pelvis, and a whole historic Factory Chimney Stack in my wives hometown of Stoke-on-Trent collapsing rather dramatically.

An earthquake in England! We had one in 2002, as a free sample, and we would rather not sign up for the full package, thank you! Like everyone else during the last few years we are increasingly following the international vogue, for everything that is exciting and traumatic in terms of contemporary Meteorology, and now it seem's Seismology, too! Our own hometown of Worcester, nestling in sleepy historic shires which would make Bilbo Baggins envious, has the last few years seen wholly unprecedented flooding on an almost Old Testament scale. Ten days of torrential rain in the (alleged) summer of 2007 saw the worst flood of the River Severn since 1947.

(When there were exceptionally deep snows). That makes it almost the worst in living memory, and we have narrowly escaped a similar drenching this January. In Summer, tornadoes are occasionally now seen in a variety of parts of Britain, which should confirm even to the most skeptical eyes that Global Warming is having a frightening effect.

At most, for ourselves the tremor displaced a single picture, and has given everyone something to talk about for a couple of days. For myself, I was irresistibly reminded of what I considered the beautifully observed realism of the approach to making "Cloverfield"; Having heard a huge and disturbing noise in the middle of the night, I thought "What the hell was that!" and went outside to have a look. This is exactly what they did in the film, highlighting that very human trait of curiosity which runs through us all, and an impulse to see if everyone is alright. Fortunately, (so far), there is no sign of a 500ft monster trashing the city. (I will be sure to let you know if that changes?..)