Richard Oliff: Baby quakes put into perspective

A graphic from the British Geological Survey showing the tremor pattern of the first earthquake
A graphic from the British Geological Survey showing the tremor pattern of the first earthquake

Every Wednesday for the past three years or so Paul McCartney’s step-mother Angie has been my guest on my show.

Sometimes, usually off-air, we chat about our daily lives or routines, and there is one in Angie’s life that occurs more than I think would be beyond my usual tolerance levels: her family’s preparation for a major earthquake.

Where they live in California they have become accustomed to the regular rumble from deep in the earth as tectonic plates gently shift.

Angie says they are a good sign, meaning any tension in the rock is relieved, though they do have a “survivors kit” always ready should one of these shifts turn out to be something more frighteningly substantial.

Here in Britain we are less worried about any disastrous potential from such a volatile source, though we have had our moments of intrigue sparked by the odd “baby” seismic shifts.

This brings me on to the morning of last Thursday, April 17.

I’d woken at about 7am and headed off to the bathroom.

As I sat there reading I felt the whole house begin to gently tremor accompanied by a rumble that was really quite loud.

Ros shouted from the bedroom “That feels like an earthquake!”

Ssurely not, I thought. “Make a note of the time” I replied. It was 7.07am.

Then, as quickly at it had started, a few seconds later, it had stopped.

As it transpired a minor earthquake measuring 3.2 had occurred somewhere in the Oakham area, the effects of which could be felt across the whole region.

If that wasn’t enough, the following morning, Good Friday, we both felt another 3.5 earthquake tremble at 7.50 as we sat having a cuppa in the kitchen.

Later that day Mexico was hit by a more substantial and life-threatening earthquake, putting our experience somewhat into perspective.