London is due a giant earthquake which could kill hundreds of people, according to experts. But should we be packing up our worldly goods and evacuating immediately?
London’s last earthquake occurred on April 6 1580, meaning that another one is now on the cards, according to seismologist Dr Roger Musson.
The last quake, registering 5.5 a tremor, shook the south-east of England, damaging property and killing two people in London. However, today’s complex infrastructure and dense population mean that a similar earthquake would have far more devastating effects.
Dr Musson, from the British Geological Survey, said:
“What we can be sure of is that, in the years since 1580, the exposure of society to earthquakes has increased enormously. The same earthquake happening tomorrow will impact on far more people than was the case in the 16th century.
“In terms of saying when is the next one going to be, all we can do is say that something that has happened twice can and probably will happen three times. But as to whether it happens tomorrow or in two years time or in 20 or 50 years time, that is something we would love to know but we don’t.”
To get an idea of what such an earthquake would mean if it hit London today, Musson referenced the earthquake in New South Wales, Australia, in 1999.
“The damage caused by that earthquake, which was smaller than the 1580 earthquake, amounted to about £4 billion at today’s prices,” he said.
Yikes. (But we do love a bit of drama!)