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Small earthquake strikes off Fair Isle

The epicentre of the earthquake was just off the island - Map: British Geological Survey

ISLANDERS and visitors to Fair Isle experienced a small earthquake that struck half way between Shetland and Orkney on Friday afternoon.

According to the British Geological Survey the tremor had a magnitude of 3.2 on the Richter scale.

Fair Isle weatherman Dave Wheeler said he could clearly feel and hear vibrations at just before 3pm on Friday, but didn’t realise initially that he had just witnessed a small earthquake.

“Some people on the island didn’t feel it; but a lot of people did. It was moderately loud and lasted for about five seconds.

“I heard the noise and I felt vibrations, and I thought the vibrations were caused by the low frequency noise.


“Initially I thought it was somebody arriving at the house with a big tractor and I went outside to look but there was absolutely nothing there, but I could still hear a rumble that was dying away.

“I then got a phone call from somebody on the island asking if I had heard the earthquake.”

He said he had experienced small earthquakes before adding that they were neither common nor rare events in Fair Isle. “We would probably get one of these that you either hear of feel every couple of years.

“Recently there have been some down the west coast of Scotland. This one was a relatively large one for the British Isles, but tiny compared to earthquakes elsewhere,” he said.

Friday’s earthquake was also experienced by three members of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra who visit Fair Isle as part of the RSNO’s five day long tour of Shetland this weekend.

Mr Wheeler added that the visiting musicians had also been able to witness the northern lights, on Thursday night.

In January 2009 Shetland mainland was struck by a 3.3 magnitude earthquake that was felt by many local people.