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Ripon, North Yorkshire earthquake | Magnitude 3.6 | 3 Jan 2011
Last update 17.34 05/01/2011

Historical and instrumental seismicity (all magnitudes) within 25 km of the epicentre since 1780

Seismograms of the Ripon earthquake of 3 January 2011 as recorded on the BGS KESWand STNC broadband seismometers.

Date 3 January 2011
Origin time 21:03 09.5s UTC
Lat/Lon 54.167° North / -1.655° West
Grid ref 422.52 kmE / 474.65 kmN
Depth 6.2 km
Magnitude 3.6 ML
Locality 9 km WNW of Ripon, North Yorkshire
Intensity 4 EMS

BGS have detected an earthquake at 21:03 UTC on 3 January 2011 located approximately 9 km west-north-west of Ripon, North Yorkshire. Many people throughout the region have reported having felt this event.

An earthquake of this size and depth might be felt up to 80–100 km away. Please tell us if you felt the earthquake at BGS Earthquakes.

This is the largest earthquake detected in the general area since a magnitude 2.8 event on 4 June  1970 in the Pennines.

Historically, the largest earthquakes to have occurred nearby were the magnitude 4.8 Wensleydale event that occurred on 9 December 1780 and the magnitude 3.1 Skipton event of 14 November 1900.

'We get an earthquake of this size about once a year in the UK. We do not expect it to have caused any damage but it could have been felt up to about 100km away.'


So far, the highest intensity experienced has been 5 EMS (European Macroseismic Scale), which was observed over an area extending approximately 25 km to the north and 40 km to the south-west of the epicentre.

Elsewhere, from more densely populated areas where more than 5 reports have been received within a 5 km square, the intensity has been 4 EMS; namely areas such as Bradford and Leeds (about 40 km south of the epicentre) and Leyburn (about 30 km to the north-west).

The most credible distant reports were from the following places: to the south, the earthquake was felt in towns in the Manchester area (80–90 km) and to the north the earthquake was reported as

Earthquake intensity map

Earthquake felt observations


Comments received by BGS described the particular effects people had experienced.

Examples of the comments received were:

'Like a shockwave from an explosion. '

'The most noticeable feature was the aerial noise, rather than the slight reverberations that followed — much more like quarry blasting or possible sonic boom from nearby military airfields. It was explosive rather than rumbling and the slight tremors afterwards were like the effects following a loud explosion.'

'My initial thought was something had crashed into the garden wall.'

'...a loud bang, a gap then the building shook a little.'

'Felt like Lorry driving through the garden.'

'...the sound was like a heavy machine driving past and striking the building.'

'...it sounded like a car had driven into the house. it only lasted a few seconds but you could really feel the impact.'

'...sound was a low rumble, rather like a distant washing machine spin when out of balance.'

Some other past earthquakes in the area

Magnitude UK earthquake frequency
5 1 every 20 years
4 1 every 3–4 years
3 3 each year
2 25 each year
1 100s each year

9 December 1780: 4.8 magnitude Wensleydale

14 November 1900: 3.1 magnitude Skipton

4 June 1970: 2.8 magnitude in the Pennines.


Contact Brian Baptie for further information.