Scientists monitoring seismic activity following the recent earthquakes in Rutland have found shocking evidence of possible volcanic activity deep beneath the county’s idyllic rolling hills and beauty spots.
Rutland, which has just been named the best rural place to live in the UK this week, has been shaken by five earthquakes in just over a year, far exceeding the normal levels of seismic activity for the United Kingdom.
The most recent quake on January 28 was the biggest yet with a magnitude of 3.8 shaking the houses at its epicentre near Cottesmore.
Since then concerned scientists at the US Geological Survey have been studying the area.
Professor Anna Lin Conner from the organisation’s Mississippi centre said: “We have been monitoring the Rutland area since the most recent quakes and have found evidence of activity which would suggest there is volcanic activity happening deep under Rutland.
“People should not be alarmed it is very rare that underground volcanic activity develops into a full grown volcano. Yellowstone National Park has been showing signs of volcanic activity since monitoring began but has not erupted for more than 700,000 years.
“However these are powerful elements and we can never say for certain when they are going to erupt.” Prosser Conner
Professor Conner said the US Geological Survey has been on heightened alert since the eruption of Mount Ontake, Japan, on September 27 last year when more than 50 people hiking up the popular destination lost their lives when it went off without warning.
Officials at Rutland County Council have said they have been made aware of the issue and if the reports are true hope it will be a massive boost to the county’s tourism.
There are already plans being drawn up to create a lava lake near Empingham to ease the potential pressure underground and other plans include opening up hot water geysers with spar facility and a visitors centre provisionally called Rutland Quake Lake.
Volcanoes occur because the Earth’s rust is broken into 17 major, rigid tectonic plates that float on a hotter, softer layer in its mantle. Volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates are diverging or converging, for example in locations like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where tectonic plates are pulling apart and the Pacific Ring of Fire where tectonic plates are coming together.
However Professor Conner said in rare cases volcanoes can also form where there is stretching and thinning of the crust’s interior plates which could be the case in Rutland.
Anyone living in the Cottesmore area is being asked to look out for steam rising from the ground or unexplained sudden rises in temperature.
The US team of volcanologists are now monitoring the area 24 hours a day and intend to fly over later this month to carry out further testing in the area.
Anyone who witnesses evidence of volcanic activity should go online to report what they have seen at www.itsaprilfoolsday.com