Teesside shaken by 3.0-magnitude earthquake

Matthew Weaver
Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer

People on Teesside were woken on Thursday by a 3.0-magnitude earthquake.

The quake was recorded by the British Geological Survey and the US Geological Survey in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, just before 6am. The BGS recorded it as 3.0 magnitude while the US monitor said it was 2.8. Cleveland police said no one was injured.

Jessie Jacobs, Labour’s candidate for Tees Valley metro mayor, said she thought her house in Stockton was being burgled.

She said: “The whole house shook and I thought someone had bashed in the door. It was that much of a noise – the whole house rattled – that I thought someone had broken in. I ran downstairs and found nothing so I took to Twitter and it turned out that we’d just had an earthquake.”

She added: “I don’t think Stockton has ever been the epicentre of an earthquake before.”

She said the earthquake felt like a good political omen after she launched her mayoral campaign on Wednesday. “I said I wanted to come into politics to shake things up,” she joked. “There doesn’t seem to any damage, so I feel safe to laugh about it. If it was above 3.0 I might be more cautious.”

Another Stockton resident, Lisa Matthews, who works for a housing association in Middlesbrough, said she thought her boyfriend had had an accident.

“There was a bit of a rumble and a noise then the whole room lurched. I thought something heavy had fallen over or that my boyfriend had fallen down the stairs. It was that kind of noise,” she said.

“I had no idea what it was. It only lasted a few seconds. It was only when one of my friends contacted me to say ‘did you feel that?’ that I realised what it was.”

The US Geological Survey said it had received 139 reports about the quake.

Glen Ford, a seismologist at the BGS, said: “We do have a lot of recording instruments in the area so we are reasonably confident of pinpointing the epicentre within 500 metres in Norton, Stockon-on-Tees.

“This is rare in UK terms – there are only about three a year of this size in the UK – but in world terms it’s tiny. We get about 200 earthquakes a year in the UK, but only about 10% are felt by the public. This is what makes this a bit special. This happened in a heavily populated area so it is getting a lot more interest as it disturbed quite a few people.”

Ford pointed out that north-east England experienced an earthquake of similar magnitude in September 2018 in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. “Otherwise it was the largest in the area since December 1780, when there was a 4.8 earthquake.”

He added: “You start seeing damage above 5 in magnitude. This earthquake might have knocked a few things over and some might have experienced plaster cracks.”

Others reported their experiences on social media. Lewis Ford said he thought his home was being broken into after a table fell over.

John Blenkinsopp was woken by the sound of cupboards rattling, and Nathan Stephenson said everything shook for about 10 seconds.