A West Highland Earthquake!

On Friday 4th August, the west Highlands felt the largest earthquake since 1986!

Remarkably, there were in fact three separate tremors in the Moidart area that day. The first two occurred in quick succession about two minutes apart (at 3.43 and 3.45 p.m.). There was then a third tremor just under three hours later in the same area. There had also been a separate tremor much earlier the same day near Kingussie.

The epicentre of these tremors was by Eilean Shona on the coast, some thirty miles west of Fort William. Although the disturbance in Fort William was not as loud as the much closer tremor which occurred in 2005 near Blaich by Loch Eil, the rumble seemed to go on for slightly longer.

The first two Moidart tremors were of magnitude 3.8 and 3.4ML. This is the largest earthquake in the region since a magnitude 4.1 earthquake near Oban on 29/9/1986. (The 2005 Loch Eil tremor was magnitude 3.)

Scotland’s largest earthquake, a magnitude 5.2 ML event in Argyll in 1880 was 75 km to the southeast.

Most of the earthquakes in the Highlands are thought to be related to the crust rebounding after the last major ice sheet melted.


Did you feel it? Please let us know about your experience, or fill in the BGS online Earthquake Questionnaire.

You can keep track of all the British earthquakes on the British Geological Survey’s website.