Today an earthquake hit the Newchapel area of Stoke on Trent.
Magnitude 2.4 is not massive on the scale of earthquakes – but it is one of the more noticeable ones for this area.
Most of the earthquakes in North Staffordshire are to do with old coal mines shifting and settling. But this one is to do with the plates of rock in the Earth’s surface shifting. Although the UK is away from the edges the large continental plates (so no large earthquakes) – there are still big pieces of rock moving around. This is why we have mountains and hills in certain parts of the country while others are fairly flat.
The south end of Stoke on Trent (Barlaston on this map) is right at the point where two plates are moving – above that are the hills of the Staffordshire Moors and the Derbyshire Dales. To the west – the Malvern Hills and the Welsh mountains. To the east are “concealed” mountains – the mountains possibly buried by sedimentation when this was sea bed.
The sudden movement of the rocks will release lots of energy (earthquake) that has built up over time. As the sliding rocks get “jammed” and their movement stops, stored energy builds up.
In the UK movement of faults between plates of rock are generally slow, but over years the effects can be seen.