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Small Earthquake Shakes Britain

An earthquake of preliminary magnitude 4.1 struck today in the United Kingdom, according to the British Geological Survey.

The earthquake's epicenter was in the Bristol Channel, a waterway that separates South Wales from the southwest of England. It originated 3 miles (5 km) deep and struck at 1:21 p.m. local time (13:21 UTC), the BGS reports.

Residents in Somerset, Swansea and Devon experienced some shaking, according to the BBC, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

Earthquakes of this size tend to be felt by people in the area but typically do not cause significant damage, other than possibly broken windows and falling dishes or the toppling of unstable objects. But the damage caused by any single event depends on the quake's depth, proximity to populated areas, building standards in the region, as well as the type of earthquake. The USGS frequently updates the magnitude of an event after more data is analyzed.

An earthquake's magnitude is a measure of the energy released at the source. It is just one predictor of the shaking that may ensue, which is affected by local and regional geology. Scientists know in a general sense what causes Earthquakes but are unable to predict specific quakes.

Live Science Staff
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