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Volume 171: debated on Wednesday 25 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research into further possible earthquakes is taking place, in the light of the earthquake that occurred in England and Wales on 2 April.

It is not possible at this time to assess the likely occurrence and location of future events with any precision because earthquakes are rare in the United Kingdom, and because the forces that cause them are not well known. However, important information can be obtained by monitoring the aftershocks which generally occur after an earthquake. In the week following the "Bishop's Castle" earthquake of 2 April 1990, the Natural Environment Research Council's British geological survey (BGS) installed 10 seismometer stations within 25km of the epicentre to study the aftershocks, in order to learn more about the earthquakes in that area and their implications for seismic risk assessment. Together with the information from the improved national seismic monitoring network, this approach will eventually lead to a better capacity in seismic risk assessment.