New Zealand earthquake moves it closer to Australia

An earthquake in New Zealand last week has moved it 30cm closer to Australia!

This may sound like nothing, but over millions of years these movements add up.

Believe it or not, the continents have been moving round the world since the planet first formed billions of years ago. This process is called plate tectonics and involves the surface of the Earth being destroyed and reborn. The sections of the surface are called plates and move against, into or apart from each other at their margins. These movements often cause earthquakes, as happened in New Zealand last week.

The earth moves in Cumbria!

Seismograph of the Cumbria earthquake

Seismograph of the Cumbria earthquake

I guess many of you might have missed it, but there was an earthquake in Cumbria on Tuesday!

It was a relatively small earthquake measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale, but was felt by a good number of people. It seems that nobody was hurt and very little if any damage was done. People reported minor shaking similar to a lorry going past a building.

People usually think of earthquakes happening in far away places such as California, but small earthquakes happen every year in Britain. In fact several earthquakes have hit Manchester in recent years. I was at the museum about a year and a half ago when we had an earthquake, and didn’t feel a thing. I was very disappointed!

Earthquakes happen when the pressures that build up in the Earth’s crust are suddenly released along a fault. This often happens along the plate boundaries, for example at the San Andreas fault in California. Fortunately, Britain does not sit on one of the plate boundaries, but is covered in lots of smaller faults, so the earthquakes are never very strong.

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