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On Saturday large parts of the UK were hit by a 4.4-magnitude earthquake which shook buildings across western parts of the country.

Hundred of people shared stories of violent shaking, objects falling off shelves or walls, and furniture moving when the UK's strongest quake in a decade struck just after 2.30pm near in Cwmllynfel near Swansea in South Wales.

The earthquake was felt by as many as 10 million Brits as far away as 200 miles from the epicentre in Cwmllynfell, and it was the strongest in South Wales in more than 100 years.

But how often is the UK hit by earthquakes - and what was the most powerful?

a clock on the wall © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

While todays quake is the most powerful in the area since 1906, it isn't the worst the UK has ever faced.

We aren't as prone as some parts of the world, but they do happen in the UK more often than you might imagine.

This is what you need to know about the history of earthquakes in the UK according to ChronicleLive. 

So what is an earthquake and why do they happen?

It’s a sudden violent shaking of the ground as a result of movements within the earth’s crust.

They are caused by movements within the Earth’s crust which cause stress to build up at points of weakness, and rocks to deform.

Stored energy builds up in the same way as energy builds up in the spring of a watch when it is wound.

When the stress finally exceeds the strength of the rock, the rock fractures along a fault, often at a zone of existing weakness within the rock. The stored energy is suddenly released as an earthquake.

How often do they happen in the UK?

The UK is not generally associated with earthquakes, however, between 20 to 30 earthquakes are felt by people each year, and a few hundred smaller ones are recorded by sensitive instruments.

Where are the likely to hit Britain?

Most earthquakes occur on the western side of the British mainland - particularly around the South West and South Wales.

Earthquakes are almost completely absent from eastern Scotland and and the Eastern half of the country - although they can happen out at sea.

Where and when did the largest earthquake occur in the UK?

It happened in 1931 in the same Dogger Bank area as the latest quake and had a magnitude of 6.1.

Fortunately it was 60 miles offshore but was still powerful enough to cause minor damage to buildings on the east coast of England, with Filey being worst hit.

It was felt as far away as London where, bizarrely, it caused the head of the waxwork of notorious killer Dr Crippen at Madame Tussauds to fall off.

a black and white photo of a man: Credits: Hulton Archive © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Hulton Archive

What other significant earthquakes have hit the UK?

A 4.7 scale quake occurred in Carlisle in 1979.

As was one in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire in 2008 with a magnitude of 5.2.

Meanwhile in Dudley, West Midlands in 2002 there was a 4.7 magnitude quake.

As was one in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire in 1990 which measured 5.1 on the Richter scale.

The largest onshore quake happened in Lleyn, Wales, in 1984 with a magnitude of 5.4 which resulted in hundreds of aftershocks.

The most destructive was the Colchester ‘Great English Earthquake’ of 1884 which had a magnitude of 4.6. Over 1200 buildings were damaged and at least three people were killed.

a close up of a map: Credits: EMSC © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: EMSC

What is the most powerful earthquake ever to be recorded?

That was the 1960 Valdivia earthquake which happened in Chile in May, 1960. Various studies have placed it at 9.4–9.6 on the moment magnitude scale.

It lasted approximately 10 minutes and the resulting tsunami affected southern Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia and the Aleutian Islands.

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How often do earthquakes hit Britain and what is the biggest to ever rock the UK?
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