Social networks abuzz after minor earthquake along KZN coastline

2016-02-08 10:37
A 3,1 magnitude tremor hit Durban last week.

A 3,1 magnitude tremor hit Durban last week. (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - Since the ground trembled for a few seconds on Saturday, anxious KZN residents have been discussing their experiences and are looking for answers.

At about 11:00 on Saturday a reportedly 3.1-magnitude tremor lasting no more than 10 seconds hit Durban, Pietermaritzburg and towns along the coastline.

Residents immediately took to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to voice their experiences.

Commenting on The Witness Facebook page, Pietermaritzburg resident Patricia Schlosser said she was lying on her bed when she heard a noise that sounded like a helicopter.

“My bed started to rock sideways, cupboard doors rattled,” Schlosser said.

Sasha Pillay posted that she got nervous when her cupboards started to rattle.

“… thought I imagined It … wow what a scary feeling living in a flat,” Pillay said.

Pietermaritzburg local Dani Jensen said he was in Umdloti over the weekend when he felt the tremor.

“We were on a weekend getaway in Umdloti and sitting talking in the holiday flat when the tremor hit.

“The glasses in the kitchen started rattling for a few seconds. At first it was quite scary, but it was also quite an interesting experience as a South African,” he said.

Speaking to The Witness on Sunday, University of KwaZulu-Natal geologist Professor Stephen McCourt said there is no need to worry because geologically, South Africa is not seismically active.

“We have very infrequent tremors of low magnitude. It is just the way the Earth works,” he said.

“The continental crust is stable but there are zones of weakness or ‘faults’ parallel to the KZN coastline that may cause tremors.”

However, McCourt emphasised that the exact cause of the tremor has not yet been identified and no one has a fix on where Saturday’s tremors originated.

This is expected to be determined on Monday.

According to the National Geographic website, an earthquake or tremor might feel as if a large truck is driving by, but there are also cases where the ground starts to shake, bookcases fall, trees are uprooted, cars are crushed, roads ripple, and bridges collapse.

KwaZulu-Natal experienced a mild earth tremor, where certain parts of the province were completely unaffected, but in some areas people felt doors and window frames rattle.

National Geographic said a tremor or earthquake occurs when rocks, within the earth, “suddenly break or shift under stress, sending shock waves rippling”.

“Most quakes are unnoticeable by people on the surface — in fact, thousands of quakes occur every day around the globe, most of them too weak to be felt,” said the article.

“Every year, scientific instruments detect about 500 000 quakes worldwide. People feel only a small fraction of those.

“On average, a magnitude eight quake happens every year somewhere on Earth. But severe earthquakes that cause widespread destruction happen on average once every five years.

According to National Geographic, the deadliest quake occurred in China in 1557, when an estimated 830 000 people were killed. Every year about 10 000 people, on average die as a result of earthquakes.

The MEC for the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KZN, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, assured the public after the tremor that disaster management teams are always on standby to respond swiftly should the need arise.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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